Summary of report content
Healthwatch Norfolk report on research they have undertaken about experiences during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak during Autumn 2020: experiences during lockdown, feedback from professionals, experiences of care home residents, and experiences of mental health services. They heard from 218 people in total.
People who had not used any services or additional support during the first lockdown most commonly did not need additional support. When asked what kind of additional support they think they might need during the second lockdown, the most common kind of support needed was mental health support.
Over two in five people weren’t confident accessing the support they needed. Concerns around accessing support included feeling like they were “just left to it” and wanting to see a health professional face to face, feeling that services were prioritising COVID patients and offering limited services.
Three main themes emerged from interviews with professionals:
- The impact of COVID on new ways of working including the opportunity for more creativity and that initiatives could be pushed through quicker.
- Discussions around digital services and remote consultations included positives, such as being able to see more people in a day. On the other hand, interviewees also acknowledged that a reliance on digital 4ervices had resulted in service users such as the elderly being excluded.
- Professionals acknowledged the impact of COVID on human connections and how they had found it difficult not seeing both service users and colleagues face-to-face.
Surveys about care homes recognised both positive and negative changes as a result of COVID-19. Positives included better infection control and greater bond among staff. Negatives included decline in resident mental health, reduced or removed visiting opportunities, and difficulty accessing healthcare or health visits.
Communicating with residents whilst wearing PPE was challenging for both staff and friends/relatives when they could visit. Sharing information about COVID-19 with residents in a user-friendly way was a difficulty. Friends/relatives’ experiences of being kept in the loop by their loved one’s care home varied hugely and was not consistent across all providers. Whilst the majority of residents said that care home staff helped them feel safe, friends/relatives’ opinions were mixed as to whether they would have confidence in their loved one’s care home during any future peaks in cases of the virus.
Feedback on mental health services found that changes to services included services ceasing to exist or moving online or via the phone. Those who had received face to face care felt the risks had been well managed.