The organisations, which plan and pay for NHS and social care services in our area, say the report highlights the challenges of Covid-19 as well as good practice and where improvements are needed.
The report features the experiences of people living at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough care homes during the pandemic, and their friends and families.
Across England, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on care homes and has been exceptionally stressful and challenging for residents, loved ones and care home staff.
Our report looks at what was happening locally and follows a survey in October to December 2021.
This set out to find people’s experiences of people living in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough care homes during this difficult time. And make recommendations to help care staff better support residents and their families whilst managing Covid-19 safety.
What people told us
Most people were happy with the care and visiting situation in homes and felt homes had good Covid safety measures in place.
The report includes families' thanks and tributes to the care and consideration of care home staff in looking after loved ones.
But it makes tough reading on the significant impact of the separation, isolation and lack of contact for residents and friends and relatives who were forced apart because of strict rules on visiting.
Our findings showed that a combination of isolation caused by Covid-19 safety measures, staff shortages and sometimes overly restrictive visiting policies, have had a significant impact on the quality of life of care home residents.
The feedback we received also:
- Raised some concerns over end of life care
- Highlighted problems for some residents leaving hospital
- Showed how access to healthcare, particularly hearing checks, dental care and footcare, have been affected.
Our Healthwatch report calls for:
- Training for care home teams around end of life care
- Awareness around residents’ mental health and how to support them
- Improvements in communication around hospital discharge.
Alongside Healthwatch England, we are also supporting a call from campaign group Rights for Residents which wants a legal right for people in health and care settings to have a nominated essential care supporter which should be enforced by the regulators.
Local health and care chiefs respond to our findings
Organisations which plan and pay for NHS and social care services in our area have read and welcomed our report.
Charlotte Black, Executive Director (People and Communities) at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said:
"The pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the crucial role that care homes and the staff who work in them play and we are very appreciative of the challenges care homes and their residents have faced throughout the pandemic.
"This reports brings those challenges to life and provides some really valuable insights into what matters and highlights some great practice as well as some areas where we know improvement is needed.
"The report helps to set the agenda for the next few months as hopefully we start to emerge from the worst of the pandemic and work with and support care homes to move forward."
Carol Anderson, Chief Nurse at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Care home staff, residents and their families have faced unprecedented challenges during the past two years.
"This important report highlights the challenges the pandemic has brought to all of those who have spent time in a care home as a resident or team member during this period.
“We continue to work hard to ensure that people receive the right care in the right place at the right time, and we will continue to support people to have more control over their health and wellbeing.
"Part of this process is the support we offer hardworking care home team members to undertake the appropriate training, including around ReSPECT processes to ensure residents and their family or carers are included in decisions about their care.”
New ReSPECT training around end of life care
Our Healthwatch has previously called for improvements to end of life care and for more conversations with local people about what's important to them.
Over the next few months, care home staff and GPs across our area are getting awareness training around emergency care and treatment and respecting people's wishes.
Tammy Ward, from Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridgeshire, is Project Manager of the ReSPECT programme in our area and is rolling out an education programme to health and care professionals.
ReSPECT is a plan for a person’s emergency care and treatment. It looks at a person’s personal preferences in terms of balancing decisions about saving their life against being comfortable.
And Tammy is urging local people to think about and plan what should happen in an emergency if they can't make decisions or express their wishes. This makes sure that things that are important to you and your family are recorded and shared.