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COVID-19 Care Home Sectors Study

Why the research is needed? 

We are aware that many care home staff are finding it very challenging to respond to the pandemic in many ways. These include following evidenced-based guidelines and managing their fears in their day to day work. We wish to invite a wide range of providers working across the region who provide care towards vulnerable people living in residential settings, their own homes and supported housing to share the ways in which they have responded to the pandemic. We want to understand the different ways in which they have sought up-to-date information, the usefulness of that information and the ways in which they have used this to share their knowledge and expertise with others across the sectors. During the pandemic, we will produce resources where gaps have been identified in knowledge and facilitate practical evidenced-based solutions to the problems facing the care home sectors. We will also determine if longer-term lessons can be learnt about bridging the gaps within and between different health and social care providers.

What is already known about the subject? 

We already know that many care homes and home care providers are struggling to find relevant timely information from official sources. We know that providers and staff can feel isolated and benefit from collective support from other homes as a community of practitioners. Little is known about how expert knowledge held by practitioners within these sectors is shared and the kinds of support necessary to ensure that practitioners receive the most robust information.

Who we are working with? 

We will work closely with My Home Life, NIHR East of England ARC, NIHR Yorkshire and Hull ARC, NICHE Leeds, The Nursing Home Association, The British Geriatrics Society and NHS England in addition to our more local partners; East Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network Patient Safety Collaborative, the Enabling Research in Care Homes Network, the Nottinghamshire Independent Care Sector Community of Practice and the Teaching and Research Care Homes Network.

How are patients and the public involved? 

NHS stakeholders, Donna Nussey and David Ainsworth have engaged in a series of discussions with Julienne Meyer and NHS London. Care home stakeholders have been involved in this rapid response proposal including Anita Astle, Managing Director of Wren Hall Nursing Home, Selston; Gill Heppel, Managing Director of Percurra Domiciliary Care; and a stakeholder group of further two care home managers, and two NHS care home leads.

What we will do? 

In the first phase (A), we will invite the members of the care home sectors to take part in short interviews to prioritise their needs. For example what matters to them may be understanding the best ways to clean crockery whilst adhering to the pandemic guidelines. The research team will explore this topic and develop clear practical guidance geared to care homes. This will be readily available and free to share with other homes regardless of whether they are members of the group or not.

Over time, this resource bank will be built upon and respond to the needs of the group.

In the second phase (B) we will conduct semi-structured interviews and focus groups with care home staff to explore how they (and their care homes) obtained and benefitted from support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What the benefits will be? 

Phase A: This will include producing clear easy read guidance for care homes to follow and include cover topics such as infection control, managing hygiene with residents who wish to walk with purpose, use of technologies during end-of-life care, managing well-being for staff. All these resources will be evidenced-based and updated on a regular basis. They will be drawn up with the collaboration with care home representatives and key national and local experts. These will be free source materials and available on multiple platforms from May 2020 onwards.

This phase will also directly inform policy makers to prepare for a second wave of the pandemic by identifying the lessons learnt from the pandemic by consolidating the information from the participating homes about what worked well and the barriers to effective knowledge sharing.

Phase B: We will analyse the information from the phase A . This will include a comprehensive outcomes framework to include the levers and barriers to the collaborations, decision-making, short-term and long-term changes in improvements and initiatives. This will include examining shifts in distinct professional knowledge, practice, cultural and practice domains in the context of the duration of the pandemic.

From this it is anticipated that the study will describe and explain how the pandemic was experienced by the care home sector members to develop recommendations for improvement in the face of future crisis.

When the findings will be available? 

Phase A knowledge mobilisation materials will be provided to members of the network from May 2020. Findings from Phase B will be available in May 2021.

How we are planning for implementation? 

Implementation will occur throughout the project within the community of participants.  We will share knowledge mobilisation materials more widely through our open access website: and other key sites.


Fiona Marshall,