Dr Tina Bedenik, Research and Policy Officer, Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI), contact: email@example.com
About Home and Community Care Ireland:
Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) is the national representative body for home care providers in Ireland. It includes twenty-three members with over eighty offices around the country, who between them employ over 10,000 frontline care staff and provide medical and non-medical support to more than 20,000 clients. Most of these clients are elderly people, though a significant volume of care is also provided to people with disabilities and those with complex needs. HCCI strongly advocates for a regulated professional home care service in Ireland.
An Inquiry into the Lived Experience of covid-19 in the Home Care Sector in Ireland: The Experiences of Home Care Provider Organisations is part of a three-wave research project that explores the health, social and economic impact of the pandemic on the home care sector in Ireland. This qualitative study sheds light on how those on the forefront of home care coped during one of the largest viral outbreaks in modern history. It explores the main challenges in the home care sector, policy responses to tackle covid-19, changes to workplace relationships, impact of the pandemic on the employees’ health and wellbeing, and implications for the future. The study provides a valuable and timely insight into the multifaceted effects of covid-19 on the sector, including implications for policy and practice, as well as recommendations for optimal functioning into the future.
A questionnaire consisting of ten open-ended questions was developed following a rapid literature review and internal consultations. The questionnaire was emailed to all twenty-three HCCI member brands, and eighteen providers responded. Qualitative thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the data, employing inductive approach and line-by-line coding in order to generate a list of overarching, main and subordinate themes.
- The biggest challenge was employee recruitment and retention prompted by the closure of schools and creches, difficult working conditions and frequent self-isolation of carers.
- Self-isolation of clients generated a 20-30 per cent decrease in home care services, with an estimated 10-40 per cent drop in revenue for the affected providers.
- The providers promptly implemented robust health and safety policies and a range of measures to reduce the traffic in clients’ homes. i.e. smaller staffing pods, ‘one carer’ model, and phone assessment and monitoring.
- The pandemic had a positive impact on the workplace relationships having prompted strong team spirit and enhanced communication internally, and a strengthened partnership with the public health and social care services (HSE) externally.
- The study underscored high levels of stress in the workplace, with very prevalent mental and physical exhaustion. Many organisations provided a range of support to their employees including supervision and counselling, flexible working arrangements, yoga and meditations seminars, and wellbeing calls and packages.
- The main concern about winter 2020/21 is a potential second wave with an immediate effect on the health care workforce. The importance of rapid testing, PPE provision and distribution, and potential further lockdowns with implication for childcare have also been identified as worrying.
- The pandemic also generated positive changes such as increased health and safety standards, and introduction of technology and artificial intelligence in the home care sector. Further, it may have a transformative effect on the societal perception of home care.
Please cite as:
Bedenik, Tina (2020) An Inquiry into the Lived Experience of covid-19 in the Home Care Sector in Ireland: The Experiences of Home Care Provider Organisations. Article in LTCcovid.org, International Long-Term Care Policy Network, CPEC-LSE, October 2020