Housekeeping staff in care homes – cleaners, those working in kitchens, laundries, maintenance – are often forgotten but are the backbone of many care homes. What happened to them during the coronavirus pandemic is the subject of a new research study. Researchers at the NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London (KCL) have received NIHR Policy Research Programme funding to investigate the experiences and challenges of these care home workers during COVID-19.
Housekeeping and catering staff have been crucial during the coronavirus crisis given their role in infection control, food preparation, and help with social distancing. But they tend to be overlooked. What they have done and the challenges they faced during the crisis are often hidden. Many are women with families, work part-time, and on shifts, and often are from migrant or minority ethnic backgrounds. We know they are not well paid. Some sadly died from the virus. We want to find out whether and to what extent these workers were prepared and supported in their roles during the pandemic. This will help meet a gap in knowledge – how to better support this staff group work to prevent coronavirus, help those with it, and with service recovery.
This 10-month study (1st January 2021 to 31st October 2021) has 2 parts. In Part 1, we will talk to 50 housekeeping and catering staff; 15-20 care home managers and Human Resource managers; and about 10 residents of care homes and their relatives. In Part 2, we will develop a good practice model for supporting housekeeping staff in care homes relevant to COVID-19 and beyond.
Anyone who is interested in obtaining more details, or would like to be involved is asked to get in touch with Kritika Samsi who is leading the study (firstname.lastname@example.org). Other members of the research team are Caroline Norrie, Stephen Martineau, Professor Ian Kessler and Professor Jill Manthorpe.