Opinion

Times are changing for UK care homes

Times are changing for UK care homes

COVID-19 has sadly spread through UK care homes at an alarming rate, causing a tragic number of deaths. However, the communal design of standard care homes means this doesn’t come as a surprise.

In normal circumstances, the social layout of care homes is a huge positive, reducing loneliness and creating a sense of community. Unfortunately, it also makes it much easier for COVID-19 to spread quickly throughout the home and as a result, it may be time to re-assess a number of issues for the care industry.

Embracing change - processes may need to be updated

Undeniably, those who work in care homes are doing the very best they can to provide outstanding care to residents. However, as the struggles of care homes show, the operation workings of the industry  may be in need of an update.

Many businesses had already introduced flexible working for people who were not feeling well enough to travel to work, even before the pandemic. By allowing people to work from home when they feel ill, but when feeling well enough to work, the spread of disease throughout the workforce is slowed and sometimes halted. Granted, carers may not be able to work from home in the same way office workers can, but there are similar alternatives. For example, staff could take on non-contact jobs, such as administration, while they are ill to protect their colleagues and the vulnerable residents.

How technology is used also needs to change in care homes. As we have seen with COVID-19, isolation is an essential part of keeping people safe. Therefore, investing in technology, such as tablet computers, to help people who are isolating feel less alone, is vital.

For modern care homes, which often already have some form of tablet in each room, the embracing of technology should be fairly straightforward. However, for older homes, it could be a more challenging task. Improving WiFi speeds and the purchase of inexpensive tablets for resident to use for entertainment and communication would be a step in the right direction.

Consider altering layouts, where possible

COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of being able to social distance, and there are several ways this could be facilitated:

  • One-way-systems in corridors
  • Using fire exits as temporary exits to avoid people passing each other at the entrance
  • Introducing a ‘one at a time’ arrangement where a one-way-system isn’t possible
  • Widening corridors if money or building structure allows
  • Repositioning furniture in communal areas
  • The creation of roof terraces where there is a shortage of communal space

As well as protecting people during COVID-19, these layout changes could also be a potential lifesaver during flu season.

When it comes to the wellbeing of residents, adapting care homes for social distancing and isolation will provide numerous benefits long into the future.

Contact us

For further guidance surrounding COVID-19 and how it may affect UK care homes, speak to a member of our real estate team.

We have launched our guide to recovery and resilience, helping to support businesses and individuals unlock their potential, navigate their way out of lockdown and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.

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