English care home staff morale and preparedness during the Covid pandemic: A longitudinal analysis

Am J Infect Control. 2022 Nov 1;S0196-6553(22)00778-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2022.10.009. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Staff actions to prevent infection introduction and transmission in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) were key to reducing morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. Implementing infection control measures (ICMs) requires training, adherence and complex decision making while trying to deliver high quality care. We surveyed LTCF staff in England about their preparedness and morale at three timepoints during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Methods: Online structured survey targeted at LTCF workers (any role) administered at three timepoints (November 2020-January 2021; August-November 2021; March-May 2022). Narrative summary of answers, narrative and statistical summary (proportionality with Pearson's chi-square or Fisher's Exact Test) of possible differences in answers between waves.

Results: Across all three survey waves, 387 responses were received. Morale, attitudes towards working environment and perception about colleague collaboration were mostly positive at all survey points. Infection control training was perceived as adequate. Staff felt mostly positive emotions at work. The working environment remained challenging. Masks were the single form of PPE most consistently used; eye protection the least used. Mask-wearing was linked to poorer communication and resident discomfort as well as mild negative health impacts on many staff, such as dehydration and adverse skin reactions. Hand sanitiser caused skin irritation.

Concusions: Staff morale and working practices were generally good even though the working environment provided many new challenges that did not exist pre-pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Infection control measures; Personal Protective Equipment; long-term care facility.