Home care services in Northumberland

Home care services are a vital way to support people by meeting their health and social care needs in their own homes.

‘Understanding the experiences of people using home care services, then, now and in the future’ was a project designed to find out the experiences of people using services and their family carers in Northumberland. We wanted to find out what is working well for people and also make recommendations for changes or improvements to services, based on what people told us.

This is particularly important at present given the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on those using home care services and their families, and the need to prepare for similar situations in the future.

We also wanted to follow up and extend on our previous work which focused specifically on the Coquet Valley, by gathering the views of people throughout Northumberland. Read Home Care Provision in Coquetdale.

This report is an overview of the findings and draws out key recommendations on the issues raised by those who use services and their carers. We have indicated where the recommendations are for Northumberland County Council Adults Social Care commissioners (ASC) or service providers (SP).

Read our findings and recommendations below:

Home care services in Northumberland

Rothbury home care

New scheme for NHS care in Rothbury

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is developing a new flexible care service for patients in Rothbury that will see community treatment, NHS beds and much needed residential care for people in the area.

The trust has created a new strategic partnership with a third-party care provider People First Care which will allow the NHS to deliver a flexible number of beds to meet the needs of patients in Rothbury, while continuing to provide extra support for people’s health and care needs in their own home.

As part of the scheme Northumbria will commit to taking NHS beds within this facility – with numbers moving up and down flexibly to meet patient needs – which aligns with initial work in other parts of Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Under the plans People First Care will operate a 12-15 bed unit for people needing respite care, rehabilitation services, longer-term recuperation or end of life care. This facility will be supported by a wider team of district nurses, GPs and nurse practitioners.

Northumbria Chief Executive Sir James Mackey said “This is a really exciting development and I’m pleased that we’re able to announce these plans after so much hard work. The last two years have been incredibly challenging for all health and care services but it’s very rewarding to see the end result.

“The trust has been working incredibly hard to develop our ambition for hospital care in Rothbury but like every organisation in the health and care sector our focus for the past two years has been on managing the covid19 pandemic. While much work has already been done this has disrupted some of our planning but also taught us valuable lessons on the flexibility we need to cope with future challenges.

“We believe this model not only delivers the right level of NHS care, but also adds much-needed additional residential care home beds for the community. We’re confident that this unique and innovative approach can be a real success in Rothbury and we are committed to making it work.

“We know that much more NHS care should be delivered to people in their own homes where they are most comfortable and better able to recover. In the covid-era we’re also aware of the benefits of reducing the risks of spreading infections and creating unnecessary contacts for vulnerable, older patients.

“Our priority at all times has been to offer the best care to everyone in the area and it’s increasingly apparent that a flexible approach to beds, staffing and patient care is the best solution.

“Our focus is not on the number of hospital beds but how best to deliver care effectively and safely in community settings. The Trust already has a very strong community team supporting people right across the county.”

Cllr Steven Bridgett, County Councillor for Rothbury says “We have been waiting for a sustainable health and care bed solution for Rothbury for some years and I am pleased that the model outlined to me today is progressing with a view that this will be opened in the Spring.

“I have been in regular contact with the Trust and feel that they have listened to the concerns of the residents of Rothbury & Coquetdale and developed a solution that not only deals with the need for flexible healthcare beds but also adds to this a wider care solution that has been missing from this community for some years. Our focus is now on delivering this.”

Katie Scott, Coordinator of the Save Rothbury Community Hospital Campaign Team, said “Since the closure of the ward, we have fought for an integrated facility with GP surgery, step-up, step-down, end-of-life, and respite beds. In April 2017 we produced our ‘Coquetdale Cares – the Community’s Vision’. We have worked tirelessly to keep the health needs of our community in the minds of the NHS. The proposal that we have seen today looks like it is our vision, but with ‘a cherry on the top’!

“The team are delighted that residential care is at last coming to our community. We welcome the proposal and hope that the new facilities will be available very soon. We would also like to thank the community for the continuing dialogue, which has enabled us to report regularly to the NHS on real suffering and real need. Our only regret is that so many people, including Maurice Cole, a key member of the Campaign Team, did not live to benefit from the proposed new facilities at Rothbury Community Hospital.”

It is hoped the new model will be up and running by spring/summer 2022 and Northumbria will work with Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group to finalise the proposal as soon as possible to ensure there is minimal delay in getting the service up and running.

Home Care in Northumberland

Home care services project

Home care services in Northumberland – help people to share their experience

We are looking for someone to carry out a focused project which will gather the experiences of people who receive paid for home care services in the county. The document below sets out the rationale and application process for those interested in carrying out this work.

The project fee is £5,000 and the deadline for applications is 17 May 2021. The work is to be carried out from mid-June to September 2021.

For an informal pre application discussion please contact Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator Healthwatch Northumberland, email: or call: 07590 880016.

Contract purpose and focus

In 2018/19 Healthwatch Northumberland worked with Carers Northumberland to gather the experiences of people using home care services and that of their family carers. It was led by a group of family carers in the Coquet Valley where, at the time, there were major challenges in providing home care services. Northumberland County Council Adult Social Care managers welcomed the final report and they said they would be interested to hear from people in other areas of the county. This project will gather those experiences.

The pandemic has given further reason to revisit the study. A recent national report by the National Institute for Health Research highlighted that people receiving paid for care and people who were providing unpaid care (carers) were having to make decisions about continuing with paid for care and using other services during the pandemic based on the risks involved in different people entering their homes and
lack of PPE.

Respondents to the Carers Northumberland Annual Survey also reported a reduction in home care and enabling services during the pandemic. Overall we want to know what has worked well and people would like to see happen to services in the future.

Full details: Understanding the experience of people using Home Care Services in Northumberland Project



Home care provision in Coquetdale

Home care provision in Coquetdale

This report is the result of joint work between Carers Northumberland, the Coquetdale Carers and Service Users Group and Healthwatch Northumberland looking at the issues of providing Home Care services in the Coquetdale area.
Based on two surveys carried out in 2018, it shows the key concerns and expectations of people who use services and their carers are communication and continuity of service. It also clearly highlights the challenges faced by agencies providing health and care services in a rural area.
We are pleased that Northumberland County Council’s Adult Social Care commissioner was actively involved throughout the process and responded positively to the process and findings and we welcome the progress reported by Age UK Northumberland.
However, the main thank you is to Cathy Jacobs of the Coquetdale Carers and Service Users Group who organised and analysed the surveys and most importantly set the tone for the work from the beginning of raising concerns but at the same time providing insight and suggestions for making things better.

Home care in Coquetdale report



Healthwatch graphic with two people

Healthwatch Northumberland Quarterly Report July – September 2018

People who live in Northumberland and who use health and social care services tell Healthwatch Northumberland about their experiences throughout the year. This report shares the themes which emerged from 1 July to 30 September 2018. The next report will cover October to December 2018.

We receive feedback and enquiries from:

  • Talking to people at local community events
  • Telephone calls, emails and social media
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups on specific issues

We are open to all feedback about health and social care services but respondents to our Annual Survey identified five priorities for specific focus these are mental health services, dementia care services, home care, GP services and access to services.

Between July and September 2018 we had 59 individual pieces of unsolicited feedback and we spoke to 170 people at 32 engagement events.

Read the Report

Carer with her arm around an older lady

CQC Care Home Campaign: Case Study Recruitment

Would you be happy to share your experience of choosing a care home?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is planning a new campaign aimed at people who are choosing care at home or a care home for themselves or a loved one. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the CQC, its role in inspecting and regulating care homes and the help its inspection reports and ratings can provide to those choosing what is right for them.

How you can help

The CQC is looking for people who would be happy to share their recent experience of care homes, to help support the campaign. Ideally it’s looking for people with a range of experiences, including:

• Those who are in the process of finding home care or a care home for themselves or a loved one who want to share their advice and tips with other people
• People who are happy with the care they or their loved one receive in their care home, and what good care looks/ feels like to you/ your loved one.

Written stories

You will be interviewed and a summary of your experience will be written up. This will be shared with you for approval and once approved, offered to magazines and other consumer media as supporting material. The campaign would launch at the end of February.


Short video clips (approx. one minute) will be flmed, with three case studies, talking about your experiences and advice for other people. These short films would be shared with you for approval, and once approved, feature on the CQC website, shared on social media and with consumer media.

Getting in touch

If you are interested in participating, either with a written story or participating in a filmed interview, please get in touch with the following information:
Name, age, where you are from and a short summary of your experiences, highlighting anything you think would be particularly interesting to other people researching care homes. Please also provide your availability for filming over the next few weeks. It’s possible the filming may take place in your home/relative’s care home if appropriate and if we are granted permission.
If you are interested in participating or would like any further information please email:


Older lady with carer

Carewatch Home Care

Northumberland County Council and Carewatch, a contracted provider of home care services, have agreed that the current contract will transfer to Age UK, by the 18th December 2017.

Northumberland County Council, Age UK Northumberland and Carewatch are working to make this transfer as smooth as possible for people receiving services.

If you experience any problems with your care, or would like to speak to a social worker or care manager about any concerns you have about the transfer, please contact them through Northumberland County Council’s single point of access, telephone: 01670 536400.

If you need an urgent response out of hours please call: 01670 827100. This number is available 24 hours a day/seven days per week.

Elderly man drinking tea

Home care services: what people told Healthwatch

Over the last year, the number of local Healthwatch citing improvements to home care services as a priority for their community has doubled. Our new report explains what people have told Healthwatch about their experience of home care.

Across England there are more than 5,500 home care providers, collectively helping an estimated 673,000 people to continue living independently within their communities. Home care services help people live at home for longer by offering support, such as regular visits from a carer to help with personal care, getting dressed, using the toilet, shopping and preparing meals.

A new Healthwatch England report Home care services: What people told Healthwatch about their experiences, analyses the experiences of 3,415 people, their families and front line staff across 52 local areas between August 2015 and June 2017.

Most people had positive things to say about their home care. These services are invaluable to many people, both for the quality of care provided and the support and company of care workers.

Older people in particular said that one of the most positive things about home care is that it enables them to remain in their own home and to maintain as much independence as possible.

However,  four areas were discovered where people’s experiences could be improved.

Read more


stick figure with crates of fruit

Morpeth Market Drop-in

We will be market stall holders on Wednesday 21 February, when we visit Morpeth Market to talk to local people about their health and social care experiences. Good or not so good, praise or concern, we want to hear your thoughts. You can also complete our annual survey which will help us discover what matters to you about the care you and your family receive from GPs, hospitals, dentists, mental health services, pharmacists, care homes and any other service you may use or need to use in the future. Pick up one of our pens, lip balms or stress balls if you’re quick!