COVID, communication and care homes: a staffs' perspective of supporting the emotional needs of families

Jo Hockley, Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Sarah Noone, Bruce Mason, Lynn Jamieson, Rikke Iversholt, Kerry Musslebrook, George Palattiyil, Dina Sidvha, Neil Quinn, Sumeet Jain, Linda McKie, Debbie Tolson

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Abstract

An important part of care home life is the support given to older residents by their families/friends through regular visiting. Social visits to residents by their families ceased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and residents were confined to their rooms. This paper reports on how care home staff improvised to address this situation during the first wave of the pandemic. It focuses on steps taken to maintain communication between residents and families to support emotional well-being. We undertook in-depth café-style interviews with twenty-one staff to explore creative practices that they introduced. It was part of a wider Scottish study examining the effect of lockdown on families whose relative was living/dying in a care home (May–October, 2020). Findings reveal the enormous effort by care staff to maintain family connections and the rapid acclimatisation involved working with a number of different on-line platforms, the pulling together of staff from across the care home, and, the attention to emotional well-being of residents living and dying in the care home. Findings highlight the professionalism and commitment of the leadership and staff involved. Whilst some of the staff accounts need no further comment, we draw on some themes from the care home research literature to make sense of the findings in terms of what we might learn going forward. This in-depth qualitative study emphasises the importance of recognising, fostering and nurturing relational compassionate care within long-term care. There is however little evidence whether health and social care policies recognise the importance of this on-going relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Long-Term Care
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • care homes
  • COVID-19
  • communication
  • care home staff
  • families
  • social distancing

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