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England's Top Ten 'Older' Homes

30 January 2020

Queensmount, the Bournemouth-based Bupa home, is the only one of our Top Ten home to be owned by a major national chain.

Its latest report, published in June, said that the 49-bed nursing home is Outstanding in all areas. It was a massive leap forward for the home, which received a ‘Good’ report three years earlier in 2016.

According to the report, there is a person-centred culture, ‘driven by a motivated and committed staff team’:  ‘They constantly looked for ways to improve the service and ensure people received the outstanding care they deserved.’

The inspectors added: ‘There was a very homely and welcoming atmosphere where people were supported by staff who were exceptionally kind and caring. Feedback about the compassionate and caring approach of staff was overwhelmingly positive.’

In many poor homes, the main problem is lack of staff. But, critically, the inspectors noted of Queensmount: ‘There were sufficient staff to meet people's needs. Staff told us there were always plenty of staff. People spoke positively about staffing levels and comments included; "The staff are always available when I need them", "I am never rushed, the staff always have time to deal with me properly", "The staff will come very quickly if I press my call button" and "The staff are always available".’




The Old Hall, Billingborough, near Sleaford received its second 2nd outstanding report earlier this year. The independent care home has been officially ‘Outstanding’ since 2015

Only 20 people were living in the home at the time of the inspection. It specialises in the demanding area of dementia care. The inspectors were bowled over by the kindness shown to residents – and the dog.

According to the inspectors: ‘People were at the very heart of the service and everyone with we spoke with told us of the exceptional kindness they had experienced at The Old Hall, and how good this made them feel.

One person said, “I have been here for four years now and have never regretted it. You feel as though you are not only cared for but really loved. I want to spend the rest of my days here as I couldn’t wish for anything more.”’

In a touching remark, one person told the inspectors: ‘The staff are so interested in me and what is good for me and that makes me so happy.’


They added: ‘During our inspection we identified many examples of the provider's exceptionally caring approach. For example, on their birthday people received a card, a present and a homemade cake of their choice. A relative told us, "The day [my parents] moved in there were flowers and a card from all the staff [in my mother's room] and a card and chocolates [in my father's]. I have ended up in tears [at times] as the care they are giving [my parents] is so fantastic."’



Maplehurst, in Haywards Heath, Sussex, is an independent nursing home and it too – is sitting on its second ‘Outstanding’ report. Registered for 38 people, Maplehurst had just 26 residents at the time of the inspection.

According to the inspectors: ‘The service was inspirational in the approach to ensure that staff put their learning into practice to deliver care that meets people’s individual needs. This was around consistent mind-sets and behaviours.’

They continued: ‘People mattered and the care was exceptionally personalised. Staff paid attention to detail and demonstrated pride, passion and enthusiasm for the people they supported.’

It was this that saw Maplehurst received the highest accolade that the regulator has to give: ‘Without exception, people and their relatives told us the staff were extremely caring, kind, attentive and dedicated in their approach, which was evident throughout the inspection...."Staff are exceptionally kind and caring. It is a lovely atmosphere, very friendly. Anything you need, nothing is too much bother" and "They look after me like their own, it is like a big family. There is a lovely atmosphere here. The staff know me well, we seem like friends, always laughing.”’



Godswell Park, Banbury, resembles a plush hotel. The independent home offers nursing care for up to 45 people in luxury surroundings. It boasts that it was the ‘first standalone general nursing home solely for older achieve a score of outstanding in all five inspection areas’.

According to the inspectors: ‘Godswell Park had high quality premises with a hotel-type atmosphere. The environment was clean, beautifully decorated and had stunning, well-kept and accessible gardens. There was a tranquil, warm and welcoming atmosphere throughout. We saw that people were relaxed and staff demonstrated an exceptionally caring attitude.’


Costing some £1,300 a week, Godswell Park’s charges are very much in line with other similar homes – although it offers a 5-star recommendation.



Arcot House in Sidmouth is one of a small group of three homes, all in Devon and all ‘Outstanding’.

As with most of the Top Ten, Arcot is a small home, just 23 beds with 22 in residence at the time of the latest inspection.

Once more, the staff were key to the quality of the home: ‘Staff developed exceptionally positive caring and compassionate relationships with people. The ethos of the home was that of an extended family. Staff knew each person as an individual and what mattered to them, they treated people with the utmost dignity and respect.’

The inspectors added: ‘People mattered and the care was exceptionally personalised. Staff paid attention to detail and demonstrated pride, passion and enthusiasm for the people they supported.’


And the report said: ‘The service had a strong, person centred culture and the ethos was that of an extended family.

A sign in the main entrance read; "Our residents do not live in our workplace, we work in their home."

Staff comments included; "People are at home, not in a home, there is an enormous difference for me, its personal, that's so important", "We care for them how they want to be cared for….if they are safe and happy, then we are happy."’




Wisteria House in Plymouth is also part of a small group. Its owner of 18-years has two homes – both of which are ‘Outstanding’. Offering dementia care and nursing, the home has just 22 residents.

Although not a new-style luxury homes, the inspectors were impressed: ‘The home had been decorated in a homely and thoughtful way and although not purpose built with some smaller areas, the design and layout was research based on promoting independence for people living with dementia to ensure a homely, non-institutionalised feel.’

As ever, though, the key was in the care: ‘The home was exceptionally caring and care and support was firmly based on the home's caring ethos.’


Despite its outstanding care, Wisteria House proves that money cannot buy you everything. The home accepts Local Authority funding with an additional top up but it has four small rooms which do not need a top up Private rooms cost just £650-£750 per week.



Belsfield House in Blackpool is another small chain home. It is owned by Ryecourt Ltd, ultimately led by Belsfield care. Proving yet again how effective leadership can be, Belsfield’s four homes are all ‘Outstanding’.

Belsfield house also accepts residents under the age of 65 and has been ‘Outstanding’ since 2016. Once more, staffing was key to the inspectors’ findings: ‘ We found Belsfield had exceptionally high levels of staffing and skill mixes, which were deployed in innovative ways.

‘A visiting professional stated what made it exceptional was how often staff came in on their days off to spend time socialising with people.’


Inspectors noted: ‘A staff member told us, "Every day I go home and feel proud that I have made a difference to someone's life. It's about making people happy, which is massive when you think about how poorly they are."’




The Shelley in Worthing is a 32-person independent residential home with a difference. It is sitting on its 2nd ‘Outstanding’ report.

Its latest report in 2018 said: ‘There were ample staff on duty to support people and provision was made for additional staff at busy times of the day, such as when people wanted to go to bed. This meant that staff could be flexible and deployed as needed, to the benefit of people, to give people maximum control over in their day-to-day choices.’

The inspectors added: ‘The home had a culture of providing high quality, person-centred care. A visiting healthcare professional told us, "There is no comparison with other care homes, visually, care wise, support-wise".’


One staff member said, "A big part of outstanding is management, leadership and delegation. [Named provider] will go to any lengths and I've never known anyone like her. Money is not the reason she runs this home. It's genuinely important to her that residents are happy and staff are happy".’




Willersley House in Hull is one of the Methodist group of homes. It is received its first ‘Outstanding’ report in January last year. It offers care and nursing for up to 34 people.

Once again, the inspectors noted the caring atmosphere: ‘Staff were passionately caring and supportive to the people who used the service. People we spoke with consistently confirmed that staff were kind and caring; we heard comments such as, "They are exceptionally caring," "They really put themselves out; there isn't one staff who wouldn't put themselves out. Staff always ask how I am; I feel looked after and cared for. It is a home here; I can ask everyone for help."’


They noted: ‘It was evident that the culture within the service was open and positive and that people came first. People were supported by a motivated staff team who were proud to be part of the service.’

The Byars  in Nottingham, is the latest addition to the Top Ten, receiving its 5 stars.


Another small home, there were just 28 residents at the time of the inspection. The inspectors noted: 'People were at the heart of the service and staff were clearly committed and compassionate, striving to provide excellent care at all times. And, reflecting the importance of continuity and well-staffed homes, the report said: 'Staffing levels were exceptionally good, flexible and responsive to people's individual needs. The turnover of staff was very low, people were therefore cared for by staff who knew them very well.'

In another touching passage, the inspectors said: 'Relatives commented on how friendly and welcoming the staff were. A relative said, "As soon as we walked in we felt it was right. Even if it was an hour away this is the one we would have chosen for [relation]." Another relative said, "I love it when staff come up and are excited to tell me [relation] has done something, you can tell that they are invested, and they really care.'

And, just to prove money isn't everything, the home's website states: 'The Byars is open to private, NHS and Local Authority funded residents.' 


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