The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the lives of residents in a care home and their relatives in many ways. Healthwatch Lincolnshire was interested in gathering the views of residents of Lincolnshire’s care homes and their relatives; to see what life in a care home has been like over the past 12 months. To do this we conducted an online survey between November and December 2021. It was fantastic/lovely to hear so many positive experiences of care homes in 2021.
Overall satisfaction with the quality of care saw 76% being very happy or happy with care quality. The quality of care had also for the majority (70%) remained constant over the past 12 months. On the whole, care home staff were praised for their rallying efforts to adapt to the ever-changing situation, provide high quality care and entertainment for residents. However, this was not a universal experience, with 6% reporting the quality of care had worsened over the past 12 months. This was attributed to declining staff levels.
Arguably, the biggest impact of the pandemic was that on care home visiting regulations. The continuously evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic led to new guidance on visiting being shared with care homes on a weekly basis. Overall, 83% were informed about their care home’s visiting policy, with this information being, generally, (81%) easy to find. However, for others communication regarding the visiting regulations was poor and confusing. As part of the road map of easing lockdown restrictions, on the 8th March 2021, the Government introduced the ‘named visitor’ scheme for care homes, this scheme worked well for 94% of respondents. This scheme in combination with other efforts made by care homes such as arranging window visits, phone and videos calls allowed 95% of people to keep in touch with loved ones in a care home during the pandemic. However, despite this, the loss of being able to spontaneously pop in to see a resident, reduction in length of visiting time and face to face visiting did have a negative impact on the mental health of residents and their families. This in some cases led to increased social isolation and loneliness.
2021 was a difficult year for many, not least for care homes, their residents, and relatives. Therefore, it is encouraging that majority of respondents, had such a positive experience of being in a care home during such a difficult year.
Whilst residents were able to stay in contact with relatives, their ability to access external services such as opticians and dentists was not as positive. Access to dentists was the poorest, a problem we know to not just be unique to care home residents, with 30% having no access. Being able to be seen by an optician was virtually equal split between having access and no access. However, on a positive note, 90% could access a GP when needed.
“All the staff have been amazing during the pandemic. When lockdowns were in place, they were fantastic at keeping the residents entertained & safe.”
“All members of staff have been extremely challenged by COVID demands and they have risen to the challenge magnificently. Everything possible has been done and is being done to protect our loved ones.”
“Staff have managed to continue to strive magnificently to provide high quality care for some of the most vulnerable people in society”
“Staffing has deteriorated. Very difficult to talk/get through to relatives in the care home/inconsistency at times regarding covid regulations.”
“Difficult not being able to see my father face to face & his mental health has deteriorated a lot not having visitors.”
“Life is very lonely people have been shut in their rooms”
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