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Covid has taken toll on mental health, dignity and independence, carers tell regulator

Care Quality Commission survey shows only 17 per cent expect situation to improve this year

Published by Professional Social Work magazine, 3 February, 2022

Three quarters of carers (73 per cent) say the mental health of the person they care for has been impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, according to new research from the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

And more than half of carers (56 per cent) said restrictions had impacted the dignity and independence of the person they care for.

In the latest data, just 17 per cent of people in England expect services to improve in the next 12 months, with the health and social care system currently dealing with the joint difficulties of Covid-19, treatment and care backlogs, and annual winter pressures.

Kate Terroni, chief inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC, said: “This important new research from CQC underlines the stark challenges faced by people in health and social care.

“The recent pressures on services, the emergence of the Omicron variant and the impact this is having on the availability of workforce – a workforce that CQC reported to be exhausted and depleted in our State of Care report in October, continue to impact on the availability and quality of care people receive.”

CQC also found that care was most commonly impacted during the pandemic by increased waiting times for appointments and procedures (49 per cent) and a lack of resources and equipment (24 per cent). Only one in five (19 per cent) of care users have shared feedback on a negative experience since the start of the pandemic.

The CQC has conducted 10,000 inspections since the pandemic began to ensure people are receiving high quality care.

The independent care regulator is seeking to build a better picture of patients’ needs and the challenges being faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic through its #BecauseWeAllCare campaign, launched in conjunction with Healthwatch England.

The campaign was launched in July 2020 and more than 50,000 people so far have shared their ideas on how care can be made better.

Data will be used to help inform CQC guidance and intervention. In particular, the CQC is assessing London and is urging people in the capital to share feedback on care.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, added: “The findings in the CQC’s survey echo what we’ve heard from patients about their recent experiences – increased waits to get appointments, poor communication from health service providers and cancellations. The survey also shows patients understand all services are struggling to cope with the pressures the pandemic has caused and accept this is behind much of the current disruption to care.

“What concerns me is that three in five are not confident that feedback they give about their experience of health and social care services is used to help make care services better. We think it’s vital that patients and carers tell services about their experiences, because that’s how services can learn and improve what they do.”

Anyone with concerns about quality of care is encouraged to either speak directly to their care provider or share concerns with the CQC using the online feedback form.

Health and social care providers are also being encouraged to get involved with the #BecauseWeAllCare campaign by downloading and sharing campaign resources from the stakeholder toolkit.