Care Homes and COVID: The reality

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Kent undertook 204 phone interviews with care homes across all client groups (older persons, people with a learning disability, people with a physical disability and people with mental health issues) during June 2020. The aim of this was to collect information about the impact of COVID-19 on these groups. 

The report found that the main concerns for care homes were around infections alongside testing and PPE provision. For those who reported no concerns, this was linked to not having any positive cases of COVID within the home. It was found that 80% of care homes reported that they felt they did get the help, support and information they needed to respond to the pandemic. There was reference to good methods of communication such as forums, workplace huddles and group phone calls which helped staff and Kent County Council to navigate the information. However, there was clear sense that in the first 2 or 3 weeks, supply chains and dissemination of information had not worked smoothly but that this improved vastly in later weeks. The majority of care homes reported that they would not have liked the response to the pandemic to have been different, although some commented that they needed clear guidance, coordination and available tests. Many care homes had experienced
staff unable to work either because of self isolation or shielding, but that many care homes found they had been able to accommodate this often with people cancelling leave and working extra shifts. A significant cluster of responses identified that what staff needed at the moment was emotional support. The overriding issue raised was about change and innovation around maintaining contact with resident’s family and friends. There were positive experiences of using video calls between health professionals. Although, care homes raised concerns about GPs not doing visits and
the difficulties this presented in undertaking blood tests / urine tests. We also heard that care home staff had been asked to complete death certificates.

No recommendations were made in this report. 

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General details

Report title 
Care Homes and COVID: The reality
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Kent
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 21 July, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Digitalisation of services
Health and safety
Holistic support
Information providing
Integration of services
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff levels
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Social care services 
Nursing care home
Residential care home

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Service manager
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.