The impact of Covid continues to have severe consequences for care homes. According to a new report from care introductory agency, Elder, reveals that despite a decline in hospitalisations and the end of government restrictions, UK care homes remain “blighted by damaged reputations”, as families opt for looking after elderly relatives themselves or paying for home care.
The survey was conducted on 2,000 adults and 500 carers in the second week of March.
What is driving the movement from care homes to care at home.
The recent ruling that care home admissions during COVID were unlawful, and reports of ongoing staffing issues have added to challenges brought about by the pandemic. The majority of UK adults (58%) agree that reports of conditions in 2020 and 2021 have deterred them from moving a close relative into a care home.
The report found that 55% believe that elderly people deteriorate more quickly when moved into a home, while 70% perceive care home admissions to have an adverse effect on a resident’s mental health.
This is backed up by working carers, who report that care delivery has suffered as a result of staff shortages accelerated by COVID and Brexit.
Close to one in 20 current residents will be removed from care homes to receive alternative forms of care in the next year. And the pipeline looks set to decline further, with three quarters (74%) of adults saying they wouldn’t go into a home if they needed care, given the choice.
Preferences of elderly relatives
Pete Dowds, CEO at Elder commented: “The pandemic has undoubtedly changed demands and expectations of families arranging care for a loved one. The current care home model increasingly feels inappropriate, as ready access to elderly relatives is now an essential for family members, who need peace of mind that wellbeing and high standards of delivery are being upheld.”
Nearly a quarter (24%) of those who receive care do so at home already and over the next year, demand for live-in care will almost double that for care home placements. Preferences of elderly relatives are the biggest barrier to using care homes, with concerns around contracting COVID, and desire for greater control over management of their care also playing a role. One in 20 (6%) have also been influenced by reports of abuse and mistreatment.
The role of care homes
Although many recent surveys have found there is a preference of the elderly to receive care at home, care homes may still be able to separate themselves from home-based care by the specialist care they are able to provide.
Specialised nursing, rehabilitative, cognitive care and equipment could be more easily be provided in a care home, and care homes can offer more interaction with others and a wider range of interests and activities.
In addition, twenty-four seven live in care at home is costly and out of the reach of most families or local authorities.
Care homes have suffered more than most from the pandemic. The report from the care introductory agency, Elder, has confirmed that families rather than choosing a care home for their elderly relative are opting for looking after elderly relatives themselves or paying for home care.
Many surveys have found that the elderly themselves would wish to remain in their own home and the pandemic has brought about change in the expectations of families arranging care for a loved one. At a time of restricted visiting and a perception that care home admissions have an adverse effect on a resident’s mental health is not helping the need of families for peace of mind.
Care homes do have a continuing role to play. They can offer specialised staff, resources, and quality of life activities that an elderly person may not have at home. However, if they are to buck the trend, they will have to convince families seeking care for their loved ones that they are addressing the perceptions they have of life in a care home. Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy