Voices from the loved ones of care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic

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Summary of report content

Between November 2020 and the end of February 2021 Healthwatch Oxfordshire spoke to 59 people about their personal experiences of having a family member living in a care home during the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories were powerful, often painful, and intimate.

 It is important to note that leading up to the time of this survey, all agencies involved had worked out some measures to protect all involved: patients, staff and relatives. During the survey period this was “work in progress” however some people we heard from had not been able to visit their relatives at all between April 2020 and February 2021.

Generally, relatives are very positive about the carers who are looking after their loved ones but there is a sense of sadness and envy that their close physical and emotional relationships have transferred from relative to carer. There is little consistency across care homes to support relatives – either with visiting or communication about their loved one. Relatives and residents find visiting often upsetting, challenging, distressing, stressful, very frustrating due to the COVID-19 constraints imposed by Government and applied by care homes. Physical barriers to having a good experience include wearing face masks and gloves, windows, 2 metre rule, poor access to Wi-Fi and associated technology.

The impact on families has led to an intense feeling of loss, fear, and distress. Some relatives believe that the impact of COVID constraint measures on residents has been detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Relatives want the authorities and care home providers to:

1. Listen to them and consider relatives part of the “caring team”.

 2. Be more flexible around the number and frequency of visiting opportunities.

3. Treat Government advice around visiting as just that, and not prescriptive, unless so stated.

4. Establish regular and personal communication between care home and relatives about the wellbeing of the residents.

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General details

Report title 
Voices from the loved ones of care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Oxfordshire
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 5 May, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 November, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 28 February, 2021
Key themes 
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Holistic support
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Primary research method used 
Focus group
Structured interview
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? 
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.