When will families and friends be united with their loved one in care homes?
During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been considerable challenges across Sussex care homes, including how to keep families in touch with their relatives.
Today Healthwatch in Sussex releases our report into the experiences of friends and family seeking to maintain contact with loved ones in Care Homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is largely based on the learning captured at a pan-Sussex webinar held in November.
The report highlights;
· the significant negative impact on care home residents of the restricted face-to-face contact during the lockdown, as well as on their family and friends.
· the deterioration of mental and physical health of care home residents as a result of reduced family interaction and support; and
· responses to the many questions relatives forwarded in advance and posed at the event.
Key questions asked by families included;
· What arrangements will be in place for Christmas? (New guidance issued 1st December 2020 Arrangements for visiting out of the care home: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/arrangements-for-visiting-out-of-the-care-home
· Why relatives wearing PPE can’t interact with residents in the same way the staff wearing PPE can? and
· What support Public Health teams can and are offering to care homes?
The report also proposes a number of recommendations identifying steps that may be taken to maximise the value and benefit relatives / family carers can add to both Local Authorities and the NHS as they manage the ongoing response to the pandemic.
Healthwatch in Sussex proposes to:
· build upon the connections established during the planning and delivery of the webinar and to continue to amplify the voices of families and residents.
· establish an informal ‘discussion group’ to sustain conversations with relatives, take forward recommendations and progress ongoing discussions as new guidelines in relation to Care Homes and visiting are announced.
· encourage providers to adopt best practice examples of staying connected with families during the pandemic, considering the impact on both residents and relatives.
· ensure all health and care partners share this Webinar report widely in order to influence the decision makers in planning for the future of residential care across Sussex; and
· to continue to push for greater clarity on guidance for families around visiting arrangements.
Elizabeth Mackie, Project Lead in Sussex added;
“Our challenge now, having made contact with lots of relatives and family carers, is to keep those discussions going. It is exciting news about a vaccine being just around the corner, most attending were cautiously optimistic and pleased care home residents and staff will be in the first tranche of people to receive the vaccine, however many families still face some very difficult decisions and months of uncertainty ahead.”
Recommendations made in the report remain a high priority for Healthwatch to follow through and already discussions are taking place to maintain contacts with the many families who joined the event.
If you have any questions regarding the ongoing situation or how the latest guidance affects your individual circumstances, please do get in touch with your local Healthwatch.
Healthwatch East Sussex
Tel: 0333 101 4007
Healthwatch West Sussex
Tel: 0300 012 0122
Healthwatch Brighton and Hove
Tel: 01273 23 40 40