Kent Care Homes & Covid : The Reality

Today we are publishing a report detailing feedback from 204 Care Homes across Kent. The report shares what it has been like during COVID-19 and what lessons have been learnt.
Care Homes in Kent in Covid

The report highlights many individual stories and presents some clear themes including:

  • Reports of ‘super staff’ with staff moving into Care Homes and not seeing their families to protect residents
  • Staff told us they are now feeling tired and the emotional impact of the pandemic is being widely discussed
  • Residents and families have struggled with social distancing restrictions, but care homes have been innovative in using video calls where possible and window visits.
  • Testing for staff and residents has been an issue
  • We heard about a sense of community, care homes feeling supported by their local community, each other and broadly they felt well supported by Kent County Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Homes told us how they have adapted to keep everyone's spirits up

One of the homes we spoke to was Tralee Rest Home in Whitstable. To keep their residents busy they set themselves a challenge : which resident could find a pen pal from the farthest place.

“We started it as a little idea just to keep everyone busy, we didn’t realise how big it would get!”, Tralee Manager, Karina told us. 

Residents created mini ‘profiles’ which they posted online.  Now over 10 letters arrive every day with every resident now involved. “When the postman arrives, it’s a big event. We’ve had letters from as far as Canada and California. We had no idea it would be so popular!”

“All our residents are now involved and they have loved getting their letters. Writing back has been a challenge for some, but it’s given everyone a focus. We have some residents living with Dementia and they have really enjoyed reminiscing in their letters.”

Care Home Manager, Karina is normally a Volunteer Community Responder with the Ambulance service but she stopped that during Covid as the risks are too high.  “All of our staff have made sacrifices to keep our residents safe. None of us are going to pubs or restaurants and we pick up the staff each day so that they don’t have to use public transport. It’s been tough and stressful at times, but we’re good at making time to laugh.  We sing and dance with our residents every day which is always good fun and keeps us all going.”

Other Homes talked to us about the lengths that care home staff have gone to protect residents. Staff at Tonbridge House Care Home came together in the early days of lockdown for their own Cobra meeting. Right from the beginning they knew that protecting their residents was their top priority and they locked down the home before the official announcement came.  Six staff members put themselves forward to move into the home should the need arise, to ensure residents got the care that they needed.  In the end two members of staff moved in for a two week period each.  One girl, who lived with her Nan moved into the home as she decided it was safer for both her residents and her Nan.  Other staff slept in different rooms to their partners to minimise the risk to everyone too.  The manager Karen said, “I have a brilliant team here and I am very thankful that my staff have put their own needs to one side to keep our residents safe and cared for.”

We spoke to 204 Care Homes over a 2 week period and we heard some real heart-warming stories about the lengths Care Home staff have gone to protect their residents and keep up peoples’ spirits. We also heard about a number of issues which we have shared with Kent County Council and across the NHS to help inform decision makers about how to support our Care Homes if another outbreak was to occur.
— Healthwatch Kent's Robbie Goatham

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To read the report click on the link below. If you need the report in alternative formats, just let us know.

Kent Care Homes in Covid

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