“Dedicated and resourceful” care home staff across Nottinghamshire have been praised for overcoming barriers to assisting people during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eighteen managers of registered care homes across the region were interviewed by lead researcher Dr Fiona Marshall via video to find out about their experiences of the crisis.
Central government was criticised and local support was identified as key in providing care to all residents during a frightening and unprecedented experience.
The aim of the COVID-19 Care Home Sectors Study was to gather information to inform more effective responses to the ongoing pandemic, and to improve understanding of how to work with care home staff and organisations post-pandemic.
Many of the managers paid tribute to local communities, including businesses, third-sector organisations and individuals, who they say were key in helping care homes overcome the challenges they faced in delivering care to its residents.

Dr Fiona Marshall, a Research Fellow, from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands and the University of Nottingham, said: “English care homes rapidly adapted their practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff were forced to adjust overnight to new guidelines and policies and we wanted to find out how frontline staff felt they coped.
“Care home staff had to deliver care in innovative ways, making high-stake decisions and very often putting their residents first before themselves. It was the resilience, dedication and resourcefulness of staff which helped overcome the barriers to care, of which this country should be very grateful.”


Professor Adam Gordon, who is the NIHR ARC East Midlands Theme lead for Building Community Resilience and Enabling Independence and Professor of Care of Older People at the University of Nottingham, said: “We discovered there was a remarkable approach among care homes, which showed them working together to provide mutual support, rather than competing against one another.
“Sadly, this was not the case when it came to organisational responses by central government which resulted in resource constraints and additional work for care home staff. In some cases, the decisions made centrally actually impaired the staff and managers’ ability to make decisions.”

The information gathered has contributed towards advising the UK government and will help form new guidelines which will be used in the future to assist care homes after the pandemic, and should another global emergency occur again.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “This study is an important contribution to the evidence and knowledge base in this field and will play a part in the national response to the global pandemic. It is another example of how ARC East Midlands has reacted swiftly to the significant challenges posed by COVID-19.”

NIHR ARC East Midlands funds vital work to tackle the region’s health and care priorities by speeding up the adoption of research onto the frontline of health and social care. The organisation puts in place evidence-based innovations which seek to drive up standards of care and save time and money.
NIHR ARC East Midlands is hosted by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and works in collaboration with the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network. It has bases at University of Leicester and University of Nottingham.
To access the study, click here: https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-021-02053-9.

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