Reimagining UK care homes: can their experience of COVID-19 act as a catalyst for improved education and status for its workforce?

Deidre Wild, Ala Szczepura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In England there are more than twice as many beds in the independent sector's care homes as in National Health Service hospitals, a fact that was recognised by the Government during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with early discharge of elderly hospital patients to care homes to free up NHS beds. This took place without known COVID-19 testing status, and at the same time, with care homes' staff (nursing homes’ nurses and residential homes’ social care workers) having neither the specialist educational background nor on-hand medical support available to those in the NHS. Homes also experienced high staff vacancies in both nursing and social care workforces. Nevertheless, discharges went ahead, as did employment of additional freelance (Bank) staff. This influx of ‘outsiders’ had severe consequences with news of high death rates in care homes highlighting the need for improved education and support for care home staff. This article considers the circumstances that have to date inhibited care home staff's growth of knowledge and care practices, exposed under these unique circumstances. It offers a reasoned case for urgent reform of education and training for all care home staff and a move towards professional status for social care workers in particular, so that they can be better prepared ahead in an uncertain future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalNursing older people
Volume(In-press)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Care homes; older people; COVID-19; workforce; training; professionalisation

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