During August and September 2020, Healthwatch Enfield engaged with local care and nursing home staff, residents, and relatives to listen to their experiences of the first wave of the Coronavirus outbreak.
It is clear that care and nursing home staff are working hard, often beyond their call of duty, to keep their residents and colleagues safe. Staff took personal action such as not using public transport, doing online shopping and not covering shifts in other homes in an effort to protect home residents and their colleagues.
Just under one quarter of the homes we spoke to had an outbreak of Coronavirus during the first wave of the virus and most received support from a wide variety of organisations. Enfield Council had put in place regular communication and support with Care Homes (including support for staff) to ensure that the homes and residents were appropriately supported during the pandemic.
Most of the residents and relatives were positive about the care they were receiving, and although many found the visiting restrictions in place difficult, they understood the importance of these measures in helping to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Many told us that they had been supported by their home to keep in touch with their loved ones (via video calling and/or telephone calls) but it was clear that this was not appropriate for all, especially for those with a hearing impairment.
Although care and nursing home staff were grateful for the support they have received so far, they explained they would benefit from this support continuing, especially in the event of a second wave.
Specifically, staff highlighted six areas of support they would need moving forward, to help manage future waves of the virus:
- Continued provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), clear government guidance and reliable access to testing
- Regular phone calls from Enfield Council (The Council is continuing phone calls on a weekly basis and has never stopped them)
- Guidance and support to reassure the home they are ‘doing the right things’
- More recognition for care staff, including access to priority shopping hours, priority access to online supermarket delivery slots and access to NHS discounts
- Improved communications within homes to ensure all staff are kept informed
- Clear guidance on access to GP support and the proposed new IT links to healthcare systems
Residents highlighted two further areas of support they would need:
- There needs to be good and regular communication with residents and relatives. Whilst, some good practice was reported to us, this should be consistent across homes
- Residents and relatives should be consulted about decisions in relation to restrictions so that there is an opportunity to understand their wider impact
Thank you to all the residents, relatives and staff who took their time to share their experiences with us to enable us to gain an insight into the impact of Coronavirus on care and nursing homes in Enfield.