CARE homes in Worcestershire have a new set of inspectors - a team of 15 pensioners charged with checking facilities are up to scratch.

The innovative Peer Visitors scheme, where elderly people travel to homes to assess the standards of residential care on offer, is the first of its kind anywhere in the UK.

Although homes are currently subject to a range of inspections, the Social Services' User Involvement Team wanted input from older residents about their quality of life.

The organisation asked University College Worcester (UCW) and Worcestershire Association of Service Users (WASU) to devise a training course for the inspectors.

Having successfully completed an intensive three-day programme, the 15-strong group is now ready to examine standards, service and staff attitudes in homes across the Midlands.

The qualified Peer Visitors will also assess whether residents are positively involved in the everyday life of a home and can award a "Kitemark" to those that meet the criteria.


Care-home resident Bill Beech-Lawrence, aged 90, from St John's, Worcester, has successfully completed the training and is looking forward his role as a Peer Visitor.

"We've been asked to comment on the standards of care and kindness among other things, so it's a very important role," said the pensioner.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed the training and I'm looking forward to visiting these places."

Enid Dallard, 77, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Evesham, has also completed the course and said it was a "wonderful idea".

"It will be great to have input into the future of care homes, to pass on our thoughts and to give ideas to care homes also," she said.

The team is now preparing to assess 20 Heart of England Residential Care Homes. The scheme is being run by UCW, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Age Concern, Worcester Citizen Advocacy and Social Services.