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The report, Ambitions for change: Improving healthcare in care homes, describes how healthcare is currently provided in these diverse settings, which range from small privately-owned care homes to large purpose-built homes run by care home chains. The COVID pandemic created extraordinary challenges for care homes, and this report argues that government, commissioners, care home providers and other stakeholders must now ensure that the structures, support and skills are consistently in place to ensure care home residents have access to the same standard of healthcare as other citizens.

To read more click here

“Our small team (Dr Holly Blake, Dr Wendy Jones and myself) within the University of Nottingham’s School of Health Sciences along with an international peer review panel have developed and released the digital training package. 

This training package has been developed for health and care professionals, and healthcare students with the aim of increasing understanding of the COVID-19 vaccine and provide a resource that will help them to explain to patients and clients why COVID-19 vaccine uptake is important for individual and societal health.

 Here is a link to the CoVE Package: COVID-19 Vaccine Education training package hosted on HELM Open Repository:

https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/helmopen/rlos/practice-learning/public-health/CoVE/

Sample training package pages:

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Ageing and Health: Lessons from COVID 19 

Fri, 21 May 2021, 15:00 – 16:30 BST

“The older population has been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. Older adults are at a considerably higher risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19 and of dying from the disease. Several countries have reported that 50% or more of their COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in care and nursing homes, raising questions about how long-term care facilities could have better protected their residents. Many older people also face specific challenges related to the societal response to the pandemic. Lockdowns and social distancing requirements may make it more difficult for older people to get the care that they need. Older people living on their own may be at particularly high risk of social isolation and loneliness and the associated detrimental effects on physical and mental health due to lockdown policies. People living with dementia likely face a higher risk of contracting the disease as well as suffering from social distancing and visitors’ bans, as their cognitive impairments may prevent them from understanding and following infection control guidelines or to understand why they are not seeing their loved ones.

This session is dedicated to examining the different ways in which older people have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the appropriate legal and political avenues for addressing the issues faced by older people.”

For more details please click here

Department of Health and Social Care Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce

Advice for those working in adult social care on managing your mental health and how employers can take care of the wellbeing of their staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

This guidance is for anyone who works in adult social care. It provides advice on how you can manage your personal mental health in the current circumstances.

It also provides adult social care employers with guidance, tools and advice on how to take care of the wellbeing of staff at work.

Read more here

NHS England

Keeping care home residents safe

Mais House is a small care home in coastal Bexhill for residents with a military service connection. This case study explores how the homes nursing team maintained a COVID-safe and COVID-free environment for all staff, residents and visiting family members throughout the first wave of the pandemic – despite community rates of COVID-19 staying high within its local area during this time.

Key learnings from a nurse-led COVID-safe and COVID-free care home environment:

·         Building the capacity of the core nursing and support team has been vital to resident outcomes and staff wellbeing.

·         Training and support to develop skills across the nursing and support teams has underpinned the resilience of care in the home, taking pressure off community services and reducing admissions.

·         Leadership and support for the team to deliver the highest standard of care.

To read more click here

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected older people with 90% of deaths from COVID occurring in those aged over 65. It should therefore come as no surprise that BGS members – geriatricians, GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, care home staff and other healthcare professionals working with older people – have been among those most involved in the treatment of people with COVID, both in hospitals and in the community.

BGS members reflected on the practical elements of managing the pandemic, including variable access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for staff and patients and the confusion caused by constantly changing guidance. Concern about the impact of COVID-19 in care homes was a source of anxiety, and the implication that discharge from hospitals to care homes early in the pandemic without negative COVID tests contributed to outbreaks.

More than three quarters (77%) of respondents stated that they had had a change in their job plan or rota due to the pandemic. This took the form of increased out-of-hours work, cancellation of scheduled clinics and treating all adults as opposed to older adults only. While some volunteered for these changes, others had them imposed and it will be important to ensure that regular rotas are restored as quickly as possible. Concerns about future careers were also expressed with many trainees describing a lack of training opportunities over the past year.”

Read more here

“Many older people in care homes report feeling lonely and socially isolated. Loneliness can have a negative impact on health outcomes and can lead to depression and increased confusion and memory loss (cognitive decline).

The internet, and video technologies such as Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom, can connect people to loved ones, or allow new social ties. But older people in care homes may be unfamiliar with the technology.

Many care homes run quizzes as a form of entertainment and mental stimulation. This research looked at virtual quizzes involving several care homes to improve socialisation. It explored whether the quizzes were feasible and beneficial.

This NIHR study is the first study to trial connecting care homes virtually via quiz sessions. Interviews revealed that residents felt more connected with each other, and with other care homes. They re-gained a sense of self and purpose and felt less lonely. Care home staff were eager to continue with the sessions, but they outlined barriers such as lack of staff support or time.

Unlike previous research into virtual socialising, this study included residents with dementia. It found that they benefited and remembered faces and conversations.

Four themes emerged from interviews with staff and residents:

  1. Residents with moderate-advanced dementia remembered faces and conversations but could not recall having seen the technology before. They expressed happiness when remembering conversations with people ‘outside’ of their care home, and answering questions in a ‘game’. They could recall details such as the gender or clothing of people who had spoken.
  2. Residents felt more connected with others. Within the same care home, residents learnt more about each other’s backgrounds and interests, and spoke fondly about their ‘teammates’. Across care homes, residents enjoyed comparing features of their environments.
  3. Residents re-gained a sense of self by sharing their stories and remembering their pasts with people of a similar age. One resident said the sessions were encouraging her to regain an interest in technology, but two expressed some insecurities, worrying that others may not like their image, and that ‘just anyone’ could see. However, the residents acknowledged that everyone on the calls had been friendly, and that they could move away from the screen if they wished.
  4. The virtual quizzes provided relief from loneliness or boredom. Most residents said the video calls helped them to ‘pass the time’ and gave them ‘something to do’. Residents said the quizzes encouraged them to get to know others within the same home more than passive activities, such as watching TV. Across care homes, residents were surprised that there were so many people with similar interests or professions, or who had grown up in the same area as they had.

Staff were keen to run virtual quizzes following the end of the study but said a lack of available staff and support could be a barrier. They saw positive effects on residents and enjoyed the competitive nature of the quiz themselves. They liked being able to get to know staff from other homes, and felt that the quizzes could help care homes connect with each other.”

For more information this study click here

 

“Most countries have restricted visits to care homes to prevent COVID-19 infections, however, concern is increasing about the negative impact of these restrictions on the health and wellbeing of care home residents and their families.

We carried out a rapid review of evidence to address three questions:

  1. What is the evidence on the impact of visitors in terms of infections in care homes?
    • We found no scientific evidence that visitors to care homes introduced COVID-19 infections, however during the peak of the pandemic most countries did not allow visiting and there are some anecdotal reports attributing infections to visitors before restrictions.
  2. What is the evidence on the impact of closing care homes to visitors on the wellbeing of residents?
    • There is increasing evidence that care home residents experienced greater depression and loneliness and demonstrated more behavioural disturbance during the period that included visitor bans.
  3. What has been the impact of restricting visits on quality of care?
    • There is evidence of substantial care provision by unpaid carers and volunteers in care homes prior to the pandemic, hence visiting restrictions may have resulted in reductions in quality of care or additional tasks for care home staff.

Conclusions:

Given that there were already low rates of social interactions among residents and loneliness before the COVID-19 pandemic, the evidence reviewed suggests that visiting restrictions are likely to have exacerbated this further. While there is no scientific evidence identifying visitors as the source of infections this is likely to reflect that most care homes did not allow visitors during the initial peaks of the pandemic. A pilot re-opening homes to visits under strict guidelines did not result in any infections.

Allowing visitors in facilities where there are no COVID-19 cases is important to support resident wellbeing. Safeguards to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection have been described, including visits through windows/glass, outdoor visits, and well-ventilated indoor spaces, screening of visitors, use of masks and other PPE and hand hygiene and cleaning.

In addition, it is important to recognize and support the provision of unpaid care, particularly for people who pre-COVID had a history of regular visiting to provide care (e.g. feeding, grooming, emotional support). They should be classified as essential workers, provided training and PPE, and be allowed to visit regularly and provide care, interacting as closely with residents as staff.”

 

More more information click here for the LTC Covid website

This webinar produced by LTC Covid explores the experiences on safe visiting in care homes during COVID-19 in Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, the UK and USA, and presents evidence-base recommendations to inform care homes and government policies on visiting in care homes during this and future pandemics, building on a recent international report.

For access to the webinar click here

“This report aims to provide an overview of data and policies in relation to COVID-19 vaccinations for people who use and provide long-term care. It is a “living report” that will be updated regularly, please email s.e.lauter@lse.ac.uk if you would like to contribute or aware of relevant sources of information.

  • The report shows data for populations that either use and provide long-term care or are likely to do so. So far very few countries routinely share data on the characteristics of people who are receiving vaccinations. In all other countries the data has been announced by official sources to the media.
  • On the 11th January we have found data on COVID-19 vaccinations in care homes for 8 countries, and for some regions/nations in Spain and the United Kingdom.
  • 2 countries (Denmark and Israel) and a region in Spain (Asturias) report having completed first doses of vaccination for all care home residents and staff. Over half of all care home residents are reported to have been given a first dose of vaccine in Catalonia (Spain), Northern Ireland and Scotland, and over a quarter in Croatia, Cyprus and Germany, and close to 15% in Italy and the United States.
  • The share of doses of vaccines given to people living in care homes ranges from 6% in Italy to 73% in Croatia.
  • We have not found official data, so far, on the share of care home residents who either refuse the vaccination, cannot consent or are excluded from vaccination due to other reasons.
  • Initial review of prioritization documents shows that all countries prioritise vaccinations for healthcare staff, and, with slight variations in order, care home residents and staff, older people and, less frequently, people who rely on care in the community and unpaid carers.
  • Indonesia is an exception in that the working age population is currently prioritised and not older people.
  • There are few mentions of people living with dementia or people with learning disabilities.”

The full report is available here

Authors: Shoshana Lauter, Klara Lorenz-Dant, Adelina Comas-Herrera (Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, Department of Health Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science) and Eleonora Perobelli (Observatory on Long-Term Care, CERGAS SDA Bocconi)