Fifth of care homes took on COVID patients, survey reveals

By Heather Jameson | 24 August 2020

One in five care homes had to accept patients discharged from hospital who had tested positive for COVID-19 during the early part of the pandemic, a survey has found.

According to the latest poll for the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI)’s Care Home Nurses Network 42% of respondents said they had taken patients from hospital without knowing their COVID status.

The survey, conducted in May and June shows, paints a picture of fear among care home workers.

A lack of PPE, accepting patients with unknown or positive COVID-19 status and poor access to pay if they became ill were all major concerns for care home nursing staff.

QNI chief executive, Dr Crystal Oldman said the survey showed ‘an extremely stressful and anxious period’ for care staff, but she said there are ‘numerous testaments to the skill, dedication, professionalism and teamwork that Care Home Nurses have displayed in 2020’.

She added: ‘Urgent attention must be paid to the sector if the workforce is to withstand the additional demands of the pandemic, particularly in planning, guidance and employment practices.’

The survey found:

  • Two-thirds of respondents reported always having appropriate PPE, but 1% said they never had access to appropriate protective equipment in the first three months of the pandemic
  • 21% reported receiving residents from hospitals who had tested positive for COVID-19
  • 42% received residents from hospital with unknown COVID status
  • More than half said it was easy to access hospital care during March-May, with two-thirds finding it easy to access GPs
  • 71% found it easy to access end of life services
  • 80% reported negative feelings about working through COVID
  • 56% felt worse or much worse in terms of their physical and mental wellbeing, while 36% reported no change
  • Less than half said they could take time off with full pay, while some felt pressure not to take time off at all.
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