In September 2020 it was widely reported that people who were living in care homes in Northumberland during lockdowns had struggled to keep in touch with their loved ones, as visiting restrictions were in place to protect the most vulnerable from infection.
We responded by asking for feedback from people whose loved ones were in care homes in Northumberland. We hosted a series of online forums which took place in November 2020, January 2021, March 2021, and June 2021. We had 46 attendees across these four forums consisting of 26 different people, as many attended more than one and in some cases all of the forums.
At different stages of changes in visiting guidance for care homes these forums gathered feedback from relatives around their experience of visiting and other ways they were keeping in touch with loved ones during the pandemic. We also heard from professionals who work with older people including those with dementia, their carers, and other professionals in the health and social care field.
It is important to acknowledge that the Covid-19 pandemic was unprecedented and care home staff had to work under extremely difficult and challenging conditions for a long time. Whilst many relatives who attended the forums generally had less than positive experiences to share, they were also keen to know what good practice was taking place across care homes.
Visiting experiences had also improved by our final forum and survey responses have also shared positive approaches taking place. We ran a survey for relatives of those living in care homes and care home staff from mid-March to early June 2021 to gather additional feedback. The survey had a total of 22 responses.
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