Best Practice Representative
Covid-19 and social care: "Devastating", but there have been positive changes
In an exclusive interview with The Parliamentary Review, Anita Lewis of Half Acre House Rochdale, discussed how her care home had coped throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We spoke with her about not only the impact of the coronavirus on staff and residents alike, but also the possible lessons there were for the social care sector to learn going forward.
It's no secret that the adult social care sector has borne the brunt of Covid-19 in the UK, if not across the world. ONS data released in May showed that deaths in UK care homes had exceeded estimates by 50 per cent, and the picture across Europe and the rest of the world was similarly bleak.
Lewis opened the interview with a remark that echoes what these statistics tell us: "The Covid-19 outbreak was a devastating blow for everyone, not least the elderly and the social care sector."
She explained that things had been particularly difficult with regards to PPE; just weeks ago, it was reported that a lot of hospitals and care homes were struggling to get the appropriate equipment to help stem the virus' spread and keep staff members safe.
"Firstly, I believe that many care organisations, particularly care homes, should not have been taken by surprise when it came to PPE equipment.
"It seems many homes, particularly in the private sector, need to keep PPE stock going forward. An outbreak or infection can realistically occur at anytime, just as this pandemic has shown us. Many private homes were not appropriately prepared for Covid-19.
"It's also important that local authority homes are prepared too, of course, and have immediate access to equipment for emergencies. Sadly, however, this is not the case throughout the country. Maybe the CQC should include this in their inspection criteria for homes going forward.
"Thankfully, we were well-prepared with emergency equipment, and the Rochdale local authority quickly organised PPE sources for all local homes."
Lewis also explained that the testing situation had left something to be desired for a lot of organisations in the adult social care sector.
"Although we did have a handful of positive Covid-19 cases, thankfully none manifested symptoms or illness, and all cases were picked up from the temperature changes alone.
"Testing availability for this type of situation would have been welcomed at this stage, but it simply was not rolled out quickly enough.
"Recent tests showed that all residents and staff are now thankfully negative."
And what of the lessons learned from the pandemic, the positive change that these terrible events effected?
"Across the sector, some managers, including ours, say staff have developed well. They have become more positive, more supportive, worked better in teams, become more focused and largely just exhibited greater strength of character.
"Some homes have invested in new equipment. Everyone has started to adapt to think of different ways to create new and exciting lifestyles for residents. Technology has thankfully meant that families have kept in touch, namely through the use of the iPad.
"Residents have become more computer skilled, even at over 90 years of age! And finally, new one-to-one games emerged and we saw some DIY enthusiasts create items like bird tables and bird boxes.
"We are still being vigilant, but all the same are determined to learn from these difficult situations, be creative, and try not to blame others, instead trying our hardest to get back to business as usual."
For more information on Half Acre and Anita Lewis, you can view the organisation's best practice article here.