The Welcome Values project recruits, trains and supports people who use services, family carers and staff from care providers to visit other people who use a service and assess the quality of the care and support they receive. To date, projects have been run with learning disability services and older people’s services. Our Welcome Values project with PossAbilities was highlighted as best practice in a recent Big Lottery paper Living Well with Dementia.
We will be looking for evidence from provider organisations that they and their staff actively seek to welcome people’s friends and extended families into their environment, and where people have no friends and family, that effort is made to support people develop such relationships. We will be looking for the kind of evidence that we value as humans – how it felt, how it smelt, whether people looked happy and contented, whether people were bored and not well supported etc.
These are the kind of standards that all of us would want for ourselves and the people we love – do staff think about supporting someone to get changed if their top is dirty or they have food round their mouth etc.? This kind of gentle support makes the most difference and, if it is in place, people are at less risk of being dehumanised to the point where abuse becomes more likely to happen.
Who would not prefer to use a provider that welcomes and acts upon comments such as this? The Welcome Standards could become a major ‘selling point’ for providers. Who would commission support from an organisation who was not interested in signing up to these kinds of standards and be willing to be regularly reviewed against them by anyone who visited? The ‘kite mark’ is not a statement of the quality of provision but a notification to ‘customers’ that the provider is part of a group that welcomes unannounced reviews and is open to visitors and building relationships with local communities.
There have been a number of quality review processes, including Expert by Experience, the Quality Network, PASS and the Health Care Commission Inspections, which have utilised the skills, knowledge and experience of people who use services and family members. This project will take the process a step further by involving people who use services and family members to a greater extent; and evaluate and publish the results of reviews in order to inform the decision-making of others when choosing services.