Using Online Consultations to Facilitate Health and Social Care Delivery During COVID-19: An Interview Study of Care Home Staff

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Abstract

Context: During the COVID-19 pandemic, UK care homes rapidly adopted videoconferencing to communicate with health and social care colleagues. Studies show that health and social care professionals adapted well to online consultations. Less well known are the views of care home staff on using online consultations and how it impacted their workload and responsibilities. Objective: To explore the experience of using videoconferencing for consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of care home staff. Method: Online interviews with care home staff [n = 13] who had facilitated videoconferencing between residents and health and social care professionals. Data were collected from June to October 2021 and analysed thematically. Findings: Experiences varied but key facilitators were having the infrastructure, training, and support for staff. Barriers were concerns about the benefits and suitability for use with older people living with dementia and/or frailty. Care home staff discussed new ways of working and undertaking new tasks. Consequently, staff developed new skills and confidence in using the technology. However, considerable time was needed to schedule, prepare, and facilitate consultations. Videoconferencing had the potential to support staff and strengthen working relationships with external professionals. Limitations: This is a small study with 13 participants from 11 care homes. It complements professional accounts of videoconferencing privileging the care home view. Implications: Fewer face-to-face meetings are anticipated to discuss residents’ care with visiting professionals. We need to address care home IT infrastructure and implicit expectations that care home staff can assimilate these changes amidst staffing shortages. A better understanding is needed about how to support care home staff in these roles, how this changes interdisciplinary working, and effects on residents’ care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Long-Term Care
Volume2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • care homes
  • long-term care
  • online consultations
  • residential care
  • videoconferencing

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