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Survey shows mixed feelings about post-pandemic recovery

2 July, 2020

A survey of key decision makers in the health and social care sector suggests there are mixed feelings about the post-Covid recovery, but there is some optimism that the impact of the pandemic on providers will start to improve over the coming months.

The study from health and social care technology provider The Access Group found that just over half (51%) of decision makers predicted the effects of Covid-19 on their business would return to normal, slightly improve or greatly improve over the next two months. Other respondents were divided, with responses ranging from no or little change (24%), get worse (23%), and get much worse (5%).

Despite this, while much of the country starts to return to a level of normality, the Access Group reports that many care providers will not want to simply return to the pre-Covid normal when the sector faced inadequate funding, endemic staffing issues and outdated operational processes.

Other key findings of the research found:

? Less than half (48&) of decision makers felt they received adequate and up-to-date information from the government to help keep services running safely. 37% did not feel they had received sufficient support.

? Sourcing PPE (78%) and coping with staff absences (59%) were the biggest challenges facing social care leaders over the course of the pandemic.

? Faster and more effective onboarding of staff (34%), improved training for carers (31%), reducing paperwork (32%), and introducing better systems (27%) were the major required improvements uncovered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey shows how the pandemic impacted different services in the sector. None of the providers who identified their main service as domiciliary care thought that the situation would get worse over the next two months and 60% gave a positive response.

Care home and nursing home operators, on the other hand, had more negative expectations. 37% thought the situation would worsen, with 8% thinking it would get much worse. Of the 43% of residential or nursing care providers that felt the situation would improve, only 14% predicted a strong improvement or a return to normal. Most predicted only a slight improvement.

Steve Sawyer, managing director of Access Group’s health and social care division, said the findings demonstrated that the additional pressures and strains of recent months had shown just how vulnerable many care services were.

“Whatever the precise cause it is clear care providers have an added impetus to improve their services, increase their resilience and their future potential,” said Mr Sawyer.

“The difference in outlook between community and residential services could be attributed to the particular challenges residential services face in preventing the spread of the virus. For residential services this is caused by proximity, as well as the widely reported cases of people being discharged from hospital to care homes or nursing homes, either without being tested or with symptoms of Covid-19.

“Interestingly, providers that felt the least support from government and local authorities all had more negative outlooks than the providers that felt they had been well supported by their local authority and had received good information from the government.

“Above all, this study reveals the range of feelings across the sector which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is testament to the resilience of everyone involved in keeping these essential services operating, from carers themselves to managers and owners, that so many are looking to the coming weeks and months with some optimism that things will start to improve.

“With staff stretched to the extreme during the pandemic, the role technology has played in helping to reduce the amount of paperwork and administration, as well as getting new staff up to speed, has delivered benefits for providers and I expect to see the digital transformation of the sector continue.”

Steve Sawyer

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