Care Homes and the Impact of COVID-19

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Barnet wanted to gather intelligence about local care homes’ experiences of providing services to residents during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.  They spoke to staff in 43 of the 83 registered care homes in the borough. 

Overall, most care home managers reported that they had managed well during the first wave of the pandemic, although many noted that it had been an exceptionally stressful and challenging time for staff, residents and their loved ones. Many managers reflected that this was to some extent exacerbated by PPE coming four or five weeks too late. Managers also reported frustrations with accessing testing for staff and residents, with some managers stating that they were unable to access testing until as late as April or May. This was again reported as contributing to overall levels of stress amongst staff, residents, and their loved ones.

Many care home managers reported concerns about the financial impact of the pandemic on their care home and on the care sector more widely. The extra costs of PPE, a reduction in new admissions to the care home, and the cost of Covid-19-related staff absences were identified as keys factors in this. Many care homes managers have had to put into place new policies and procedure to ensure that staff do not bring Covid-19 into the home.

Most care homes reported that routine healthcare for residents was predominately being provided digitally, with face-to-face consultations only being carried out if clinically necessary. Many managers welcomed this change as video consultations allowed multiple professionals to be present at once and increased multidisciplinary team working. Some residents (particularly residents in mental health care homes) cannot attend face-to-face medical appointments outside of the care home, and may not always afforded privacy in the care home when discussing medical issues.

Many care home managers raised concerns about the length of time it was taking Barnet Council to carry out Deprivation of Liberty Assessments and to provide assessment reports. In some cases delays in obtaining assessments have been in excess of 6 months.

Healthwatch Barnet found that most care homes had put significant time and effort into supporting residents’ wellbeing during lockdown and have been using a variety of creative ways to ensure residents are stimulated and can maintain contact with their loved ones. However, for many residents, particularly residents with dementia, digital visiting does not provide a substitute for in-person visits, and that a lack of in-person contact may well contribute to distress and a decline in wellbeing.

The report includes five recommendations  about guidance for care homes, support for additional costs; access to face to face healthcare appointments; reducing delays in assessments and improved access for visiting.


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General details

Report title 
Care Homes and the Impact of COVID-19
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Barnet
Date of publication 
Thursday, 26 November, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 25 March, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 30 June, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Health protection
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
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 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
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 
All care professionals
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? 
Not known

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.