According to the first major review of residential care in Wales carried out by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, “too many older people living in care homes have an unacceptable quality of life”, with care homes being criticised for accepting an “overall level of care that is simply not good enough” and which falls “below the standard that older people have a right to expect”.

Entitled ‘A Place to Call Home’, the review looked at a number of areas including the care home environment, social participation, diet, staff capacity, training and access to healthcare services, as well as service commissioning, regulation and inspection.  Unannounced visits to 100 care homes across Wales were carried out by health and social care experts and residents and families completed over 2000 questionnaires. 

The review drew some highly critical conclusions on the standard of care provided to older people in residential care homes. These included a general neglect for residents’ emotional needs and an institutional regime which leads to residents losing meaningful choice and control over their lives.

Not only are standards poor but review evidence also shows that “too many older people are unable to access specialist services and support that would help them to have the best quality of life”. This is leading to “some of the most basic health care needs of older people living in care homes” being “not properly recognised”.  Too many older people do not have “access to basic functional screening and primary healthcare that would have been available to them while living in their own home, such as regular access to GP services, eye health, sight and hearing tests, podiatry services, oral health advice, medication reviews and specialist nursing care”.  These failings are resulting in older people being prevented from “maintaining their health, wellbeing and independence for as long as possible”.

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said: “While the review found excellent examples of truly person-centred care, enabling and empowering care that delivers the very best outcome for older people … there are too many older people living in care homes having an unacceptable quality of life.”    She  concluded that quality of life must sit at “the heart of the delivery of residential and nursing care across Wales”.   The Welsh Government said it was already taking action on issues raised in the review.