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Nursing in Practice survey: Care homes grappling with extra work and reduced staff



Workloads for staff in care homes across the UK have risen since the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a Nursing in Practice snapshot survey.

All ten respondents from care homes to the survey, run in July and Augustsaid their workload was either ‘higher’ (7 people or 70%) or ‘much higher’ (3 people or 30%) since the pandemic began.

A care home nurse based in Scotland, who did not wish to be named, told Nursing in Practice that work had been ‘more stressful than ever’ since the outbreak began. 

They continued: ‘Work is a lot at the moment and we don’t really have enough staff to manage all the demands, which were really tough particularly at the peak of the pandemic.’  

A third of respondents – which included care home nurses, owners and managers, and care workers – reported their home did not have enough staff during the pandemic.  

Only a third said they either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that staffing had been adequate during the outbreak, and another third responding neutrally.  

Nine in ten respondents said their mental health had been adversely impacted by the pandemic. Nearly half (45%) of those said their mental health had worsened ‘a lot’, while 55% said ‘a little’.  

In addition, just four-fifths of respondents were being tested weekly for Covid-19, despite the Department of Health and Social Care promising this for care home staff in England.  

All respondents agreed that the Government had not done enough to protect care homes from Covid-19.  

One anonymous respondent wrote: ‘At the height of the pandemic, guidance changed every day. Residents were dying with no support from GPs, which continues to be the case. 

‘It feels as if the elderly and those who care for them are expendable.’  

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents care providers in England, said the ‘quality and competence’ of care home staff must be acknowledged. 

He continued: ‘This pandemic has really shown they are professionals who are managing people with very complex needs being paid a low wage.’  

Last month, Nursing in Practice learned that staff in English care homes were not being tested weekly for Covid-19 because of long waits for kit deliveries from the Government

The social care staff death rate from Covid-19 is also twice that of the general population, according to Office for National Statistics data up until 20 April. 

Nursing in Practice will publish more results from its survey next week.