Underfunded and Overstretched

‘It’s like being at home,” was the verdict of one resident at West Hall, the care home in West Byfleet, relayed to inspectors. When you walk through the doors, you can see why. The first thing that strikes a visitor is its immaculate grounds and impressive architecture. This blends a beautifully converted, old manor house with three eco-build residential lodges.

Resident Care

The surroundings are certainly impressive. After talking to the people who live and work in West Hall, the surrounding grandeur finally fades into the background. The warmth and affection that characterise the relationships between staff and residents light up its smart interior. This amiability creates a comfortable, homely atmosphere. Arriving on a Thursday lunchtime, I’m finally introduced to several relatives visiting their parents. Nigel Allen, the home’s manager, stresses that guests are welcomed with open arms. There seems to be a huge range of activities to join in with. The day I was there, they included a sing-along, a lunch outing to the local pub and, finally, a Scrabble group. It may not have been a wild party, but there were plenty of smiling faces.

Not a Typical Care Service

West Hall, run by the not-for-profit Anchor Trust, is not a typical care service. It is one of the few homes to have received an outstanding rating from the regulator, which is something to be proud of in itself. Data provided to the Observer by the Care Quality Commission shows just 91 outstanding care homes in England for the over-65s. This is hardly a surprising statistic considering the well publicised lack of funding in recent times. Less than 1% of those care homes the CQC has inspected under its new regime. Almost one in three have been rated as requiring improvement or as inadequate. The quality of care provided to older people in their own homes is similarly variable.

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