Voices from the loved ones of care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemicDownload (PDF 1.11MB)
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.