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Exploring the longer-term implications of the Covid pandemic on the future of domiciliary care

I think it’s fair to say that 2020 certainly didn’t play out the way most would have envisaged. The Covid-19 pandemic hit hard and affected every single one of us in one way or another. There has been a huge burden on the NHS, and other healthcare providers over the last thirteen months. Adult social care in the UK has seen some drastic changes. These changes may shape the future of those requiring care.

One of the common issues widely reported throughout the early stages of the pandemic; was the rate care homes were being affected by positive Covid cases. Whether this was down to the virus spreading too quickly initially, or homes not being properly equipped to deal with the virus. Occupancy levels have dropped and it has resulted in a shift in mentality for a number of people, leading to an increase in demand for domiciliary care.

Reduced hours and furlough

The majority of Registered Domiciliary Managers I have spoken with over the last year, have outlined how the number of hours they were providing prior to the pandemic decreased. In some cases quite drastically, as a result of lockdown. Many people were being placed on furlough. Or, they were out of work as a result of the initial lockdown. More people began providing unpaid care for their family members, friends and neighbours. This was to help reduce contact with those outside of the household. Figures released in June 2020 stated this to be as high as 4.5 million people across the UK. The figures also showed that 2.8 million took on care responsibilities whilst juggling paid work.

We begin to see and end in sight regarding the restrictions for social interactions. Some managers I have spoken with recently, are now experiencing an increased demand. They are providing care to more service users than was the case before the pandemic.

An Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) survey suggested that people are less likely to seek residential care than was the case prior to the pandemic and there is anecdotal evidence that Domiciliary Care Agencies have received a greater number of enquiries and demand for their services.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, I am sure the occupancy levels of care homes will increase as things improve. For those who want to keep their independence and remain in their own homes; I think the upward trajectory of popularity for domiciliary care will definitely continue.

Whilst it may not be feasible for everyone to receive care within their own home. Some may prefer the environment of a residential setting. It will be interesting to see over the next 12 months how things develop. For both residential homes and domiciliary services. And even five years from now to see if 2020 was a turning point for how social care is delivered.

Read more Adult Social Care Insights

Last month, we shared an article from John. John is the divisional manager at Menlo Park Adult Social Care. In the article, John looks at the question, are providers assisting managers in dealing with the added stresses that have arisen during the pandemic?

Read the article in full here.

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