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22 December 2022

Essential role of care home staff often overlooked during the pandemic

During the pandemic, care home staff played an essential role in the delivery of high-quality palliative and end-of-life care.

Still of animation film

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people have died in care homes across the UK. Considerable media and policy attention has focused on infection control and higher death rates within care homes. However, little attention has been given to how the pandemic affected the provision of palliative and end-of-life care within care homes.

The CovPall Care Homes study

Care Home Staff are Heroes Too is a short, animated film based on findings from the CovPall Care Homes study, led by Professor Katherine Sleeman and Professor Catherine Evans.

The study examined how care homes responded to meet the rapidly increasing need for palliative and end-of-life care for care home residents during the pandemic. Senior staff in care homes completed an online survey followed by in-depth interviews. These findings were then discussed with care home staff, family carers, academics, and policy experts.

Policy recommendations

These discussions led to ten policy recommendations, across five areas. These five areas are:

  1. Valuing the role of care homes and care home staff.
  2. Support for care home managers.
  3. Workforce development, training, and support in delivering palliative and end-of-life care.
  4. ‘Spirit of partnership’: Integration with primary and specialist palliative care.
  5. Digital inclusivity.

Valuing care homes and care home staff

By 2040 care homes are expected to be the most common place of death. As such, care homes must be positioned as equal and valued partners within the health and social care system.

It is also important to value care homes and care home staff. During the pandemic, staff played an essential role in the delivery of high-quality palliative and end-of-life care. Yet, they felt their role in the wider health and social care system was often ignored and undervalued by the government, public, and media.

In this story

Katherine Sleeman

Laing Galazka Chair in Palliative Care, Honorary Consultant in Palliative Medicine