The Covid, Closeness & Care Study
The Covid, Closeness and Care study will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed paid caregiving in older people’s private homes and in residential homes for older people.
Research suggests that older people are more likely to be affected by COVID-19 than other age groups. Because of this, the places in which older people receive care – residential care homes for older people and private homes – have been identified as settings where extra measures are needed to stop Covid-19 from spreading between people. These measures have included wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, visors and gloves, and physical distancing, which involves keeping a distance of two metres between people where possible.
Initial research suggests that, during the pandemic, care workers have felt stressed, vulnerable, and overworked, anxious about infection, and that they have faced challenges in keeping older people safe. Some care workers have also said that they have not had access to the right protective equipment and that using masks can impact upon their relationships with older people. For these reasons, among many others, we need to research how the pandemic has changed the care provided to older people in their own homes and in residential homes.
For this research, 25 care workers working in care homes for older people in England, and 25 care workers working for home care agencies in England, to find out how the pandemic has changed their work. The interviews will take place over the telephone. My focus on two different settings will allow for comparisons, so that any similarities and differences between caregiving in residential homes and private homes can be seen.
I will ask care workers how rules and guidelines about controlling infection have changed their daily activities and especially the close physical contact that they have with older people (e.g. helping them with washing, dressing, and using the toilet). I will also ask how they feel about their work and the challenges they face, as well as asking questions about how PPE (like masks and gloves) might change the relationships that they are able to form with older people. I will also ask care workers how their work has changed over time, and what they feel would help them to improve caregiving in the context of COVID19 and future infection outbreaks.
I will share the findings of the project by presenting at conferences and local events, and by writing about the project in different ways (e.g. blog posts, an end-of-project report, academic articles). A key aim of the project is to improve the experience of caregiving for care workers and older people receiving care. I will do this by working with a group of care workers and older people (as part of an advisory group) to turn some of the project’s findings into a web-based learning resource for care workers. This will help care workers to provide the best possible care to older people in the future.
If you are a care worker who is interested in taking part in the study please click the link below.