Phoenix House – My Views Matter report – April 2023

Part of Healthwatch Norfolk’s work programme is to carry out Enter and View visits to health and social care services, to see and hear how people experience care. The visits are carried out by our authorised representatives. We can make recommendations or suggest ideas where we see areas for improvement.

The Health and Social Care Act allows local Healthwatch authorised representatives to observe service delivery and talk to service users, their families and carers on premises such as hospitals, residential homes, GP practices, dental surgeries, optometrists and pharmacies.

Enter and View visits can happen if people tell us there is a problem with a service. Equally they can occur when services have a good reputation, so we can learn about and share examples of what they do well from the perspective of people who experience the service first hand.

My Views Matter
From September 2022 – March 2023, our Enter and View visits will be part of a project called ‘My Views Matter’. This project is specifically focused on residential and in-patientcare for people with learning disabilities and autistic people in Norfolk. We are implementing this project in response to the tragic events at Cawston Park, in which three residents with learning disabilities died between 2018 and 2020. One of the key findings from the Safeguarding Adults Review was that residents and their families were not being listened to.

My Views Matter will involve visiting around 20 residential homes across Norfolk to find out what people with learning disabilities and autistic people, and their families, want from their residential care. It will also investigate whether residents’ and their families’ views are being taken into account in how care is delivered.

Alongside the Enter and View visits to homes, we are also interviewing family members and professionals in the sector and organizing focus groups with care home residents outside their homes. The project is being implemented with the assistance of About with Friends, NANSA (Norfolk and Norwich SEND Association) and Opening Doors.

A final report from this project, which will report on data from across the county, will be published in May 2023.

Summary of findings

During this Enter and View visit we focused on what residents thought about their care, and the degree to which they were being listened to by the home staff. We considered the following themes, with the following findings:

Voice,choice and personalisation: Care seemed to be well personalised at Phoenix House, through the good relations between staff and residents, which were often of very long standing. There was good ongoing consultation between staff and residents, who sought to operate in the manner of a family home wherever possible. The family member we spoke to was very happy with the care their relative was receiving at the home, and with their communications.

Premises: Phoenix House is an older property, which is very clean and well organised. Efforts have been made to keep the premises as homely as possible, and they do not seem at all institutional. People had opportunities to personalise their bedrooms and moved freely around the home.

Activities: People went on regular outings and seemed to all be as active as they chose to be. A range of activities were available to residents, and all of the people we spoke to told us that they were happy with the choices they were offered.

Relationships and community: The strong feeling of togetherness was very striking at Phoenix House, which seems to have successfully maintained its family-like relationships, first developed when it was established as a Shared Lives placement, before later becoming a residential care home. People were also encouraged to make outings in the local community and to maintain regular contacts with their families.

Food and health: People were consulted on a daily basis about what they would like to eat, and people said they were happy with the choices they were offered. Everyone was active and a healthy weight, and were receiving regular medical check-ups.

Relations with the broader health and social care system: These relations have been mixed. The West Norfolk Community Learning Disabilities Team have been very helpful for the home, and NCC’s Integrated Quality Service have helped the manager to make important improvements. There have been some problems in the services provided by the local GP surgery, and some issues with the care provided for someone at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, although the latter were quickly resolved.

Overall, all of the people we spoke to at Phoenix House told us they were very happy living there. We observed a close, happy and lively community in the house, with the focus on having a family atmosphere really seeming to contribute to people’s happiness.

Recommendations

The visit team was impressed by the homely, family atmosphere staff had created at Phoenix House, which appeared to be central to the wellbeing of the people who live there. The residents all told us that they were happy, and seemed to lead active and fulfilling lives over which they had a good degree of control. We hope that the service will continue to put residents at the centre of their work.

I can't praise them highly enough. My relative is really happy. They really like it there.

Related Reports

In the past it was very good but now we find it nearly impossible to see a clinician....