Summary of report content
Healthwatch Havering undertook a survey of friends and relatives of care home residents to find out what they felt about their experience since lockdown began so that lessons can be learned for the future. The survey was launched online in July and closed at the end of September. It was supplemented by three online videoconferences, one in July and two in September.
Most participants found communication with care home staff easy to maintain but many felt more could have been done. Most homes tried to ensure contact was maintained, including visits outdoors, but not always successfully. Homes were not always open to offers of help from relatives and friends of their residents.
Although generally relatives and friends felt that homes achieved a safe environment and made good use of personal protective equipment (PPE), there was concern that staff were not always using PPE and that some residents were being cared for by different members of staff, some of whom were attending more than one home and generally moving about in the community. Most participants were confident that homes were keeping them up to date regarding Covid-19 infection among staff and residents.
There was, however, concern that relatives and friends were not informed about changes in their loved ones’ care plans although there were few general reservations about medical care. Residents were generally able to access health care such as dentistry, chiropody and hospital care when needed.
Generally, homes were able to continue to offer activities to keep residents engaged – although there was criticism of an overreliance on bingo! Most residents appeared to have coped well with the restrictions imposed by lockdown. But there was concern about the mental health consequences of prolonged inability to see visitors. Feelings of being imprisoned and losing liberty were reported, leading to diminished mobility and an inability to recognise visitors. The ability of residents to support one another was welcomed.