Living in a care home during the Covid-19 pandemic

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Bucks undertook a survey about care homes to find out how lockdown measures, government guidance and the decisions made by the care homes themselves impacted on residents and their loved ones.  They ran a survey from 16 March to 31 May 2020. They received 292 responses to the survey.

Relatives of loved ones living with dementia felt less informed than other relatives about certain aspects of the resident’s life, including about their physical health.  Some relatives were concerned about the lack of choice residents had over their lives  and many were worried about impact of spending more time alone in bedrooms and receiving less stimulation from activities or people would have on residents’ mental health.

Most relatives were not  permitted to visit/receive visitors, although most people at end of life could have visitors by May. Video calls for most replaced face to face visits. This method of communication did not suit all residents and some people did not talk to loved ones for months

Information Technology suddenly became very important when care homes closed to family and professionals. The adoption of new IT, such as iPads, helped to keep some families in touch, but not all homes had a robust IT infrastructure to support the increased use of IT at this time, and not all staff understood how to use the IT available or what support residents needed. Keeping in touch using IT tools is often confusing and does not work well for some residents, particularly those living with dementia, or a hearing/sight loss.

Many care homes have faced the challenge of staff self-isolating, shielding or being absent due to fear. Some have staff who are all permanent whilst others have more agency staff. People were grateful for the care and kindness shown by staff when the latter were working in pressured and uncertain times.  

The report contains a number of recommendations aimed at Buckinghamshire County Council and care homes to better support care homes, residents and relatives during the pandemic.

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General details

Report title 
Living in a care home during the Covid-19 pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Buckinghamshire
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 11 November, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 16 March, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 31 May, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Digitalisation of services
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Staff levels
Other information of note about this report 
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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 
All people 18 and over
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? 
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.