COVID19 is one of the biggest issues most of us will face in our lifetimes, forcing people worldwide to stay indoors and restricting the ability to socialise or visit loved ones. The care industry in particular has really suffered, with homes full of vulnerable people and staff who have been under significant pressure to prevent the virus spreading to their homes. But as we near the end of the crisis we face what is arguably the most important question of the whole event… How to learn lessons and rebuild.
Although the virus has brought considerable pain and suffering, we believe it’s also presented an opportunity to look at the way care homes behave and consider what we want the future of care to look like.
Rather than returning to the status-quo, let’s use this time to create something better.
A Bad Reputation
Everyone knows that care homes often get a bad reputation. The public’s perception of care includes undertrained poorly paid staff, overcrowded homes, and a lack of funding,or high prices that don’t always feel worth it. Thesehave been issues facing those of us in the industry for a long time.
In this instance, perhaps the Coronavirus was a blessing in disguise as it’s forced us to revaluate our practices to ensure each and every resident is getting the best quality of care. With staff being taken more seriously when they notice changes to the mood, wellness, or health of someone they’re caring for, attention to residents is improving.
Cleanliness has also been highlighted by the current pandemic, with more hand-washing stations available even in supermarkets. While these practices have been introduced in response to the crisis, there’s no denying this hygiene-focused approach will reduce the risk of infection of more than just COVID19 and can improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable.
In addition to improving hygiene, COVID19 has also highlighted the need for more thorough records. As part of the government guidance for care homes dealing with Coronavirus, there’s been a focus on improving the relationship between caregivers and medical practitioners such as GPs. Ensuring medical records are clear, thorough, and accessible to everyone involved in a person’s care has never been so important, and we’re thrilled to see this improve.
Furthermore, many care homes (ourselves included) have been training staff in basic nursing procedures such as measuring heart rates, blood pressure, confusion, and respiratory rates to support external healthcare practitioners in establishing baselines and early signs of infection – whether Coronavirus or something else – to ensure anything out of the ordinary is quickly identified and addressed.
Although this is great, we understand that it’s important not to put too much pressure on staff. Boundaries must exist to ensure regular duties aren’t neglected whilst also allowing staff sufficient down-time for their own mental and physical health. This balance may still need some fine-tuning, but the opportunity to learn, grow, and provide better overall care is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Personal Touch
As caregivers are close to residents almost every day, we have an unparalleled opportunity to get to know residents as people, to build relationships and be the first to spot anything out of the ordinary. By giving workers the training and voice to be heard, the quality of life of residents can only improve.
Perhaps COVID19 has unlocked the door to allow staff and residents to have our say on how care homes should be run, with more attention to detail and openness being the template for a new, improved and properly funded care industry.