The 2023 Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) results have been released, with the Royal Free London (RFL) scoring above the national average in five of the six assessed areas.

PLACE assessments are an annual appraisal of the non-clinical aspects of healthcare settings, rating on important domains such as cleanliness, food and hydration provision and how an organisation meets the needs of people with dementia or a disability.

What makes the assessment unique is the inclusion of lay assessors, generically know as ‘patient assessors’. All assessment teams must include a minimum of two patient assessors who make up at least 50% of the team. On the day of the assessment, they visit various areas of the hospital and complete scorecards based on what they observe.

The RFL scored above the national average for cleanliness, receiving a score of 99.86%. This covers items found in premises such baths, toilets, furniture, floor fixtures and fittings.

Our trust was also ahead of the national average in the combined food domain, receiving 94.33%. This area assesses choice of food, 24-hour availability, meal times and access to menus, while at ward level, teams consider taste, texture and appropriateness of serving temperature.

The national average score for condition, appearance and maintenance was 95.9%, with the RFL scoring 98.85%. This includes various aspects of an environment such as décor, condition of fixtures and fittings, tidiness, signage, lighting and linen, among others.

The assessment also found that the RFL meets the needs of people with dementia and disabilities, with the dementia domain receiving 92.44% and the disability domain receiving 84.3%. These assessments share many considerations such as the availability of handrails, appropriate seating, flooring and accessibility.

The RFL scored slightly below the national average of 87.5% in the area of privacy, dignity and wellbeing, achieving 86.69%.

“It’s really great to see such positive scores,” said RFL group chief nurse Julie Hamilton. “We are well above the national average in a number of areas, which is particularly important given the inclusion of patient assessors. I am happy that they recognised the great care and facilities which I see on a daily basis.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our patient care, and will aim to further increase our ratings across all domains in the next assessment.

“Thank you to all our staff who go above and beyond to make the Royal Free London one of the best places to receive care.”