Learning Disabilities Care Home Report

Research into the experience of service users with a learning disability in County Durham.

Healthwatch County Durham was approached by Durham County Council to consider whether they were able to assist in the review of the care home provision for service users with a learning disability. After discussions with commissioners it was agreed that the team would carry out some service user consultation. Currently there are 44 homes in the County providing care and support to 132 service users with a learning disability. The Healthwatch County Durham team agreed to carry out consultation in eight care homes in the county. Ultimately the team spoke with 34 service users which represents a 26% sample of people accessing support in the county. Therefore this data has to be taken in the context that it does not necessarily represent the views of the whole client group and the responses are restricted to the questionnaire and in most cases were not further expanded upon.

What did people tell us?

The service users we interviewed in County Durham appeared to be happy with the support they are receiving in the care homes we visited:

  • They told us they like their environment, the staff, the catering and the support provided.
  • There was a wide variance in activities available for service users. Some were certainly accessing more activities than others- it might be useful for providers to share best practice on the activities they undertake.
  • The use of mainstream services and leisure opportunities was a very positive experience for some service users and we also witnessed some providers negotiating with local leisure outlets for discount for their service users.
  • Service users accessing day services seemed to value this and some stated it was an opportunity to meet up with friends.
  • Accessibility to outside space was also valued by service users and wherever possible providers should try to give opportunities for their service users to have access to an outside area for recreation.
  • Where service users were accessing “befriending” support they told us they really enjoyed the one to one support this provided.
  • We were told that most of the homes we visited enabled service users to personalise their own rooms and the rooms service users invited us to see were decorated to their individual taste.
  • No one interviewed identified any problems receiving visitors in their home.


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