Joint statement on communications during COVID-19

June 1, 2020

The Relatives & Residents Association and the National Care Forum (NCF) have released a joint statement on communications during COVID-19.

The statement has been endorsed by the Care Provider Alliance, the Care Quality Commission and Skills for Care and focuses on the importance of clear, open, transparent and regular communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes examples of good practice and guidance on why communication is so vital at this time.

The Relatives & Residents Association and NCF recognise that this is an exceptionally difficult time for care providers, with staff working under challenging circumstances to ensure residents’ safety and wellbeing, whilst maintaining quality of care. It is also a very difficult time for residents and their families as visits are restricted and family members are anxious about their relatives.

Vic Rayner, the Executive Director of the NCF says, 'The COVID-19 crisis has created huge challenges for the people who live in care homes, their friends and families and care providers. Given all the uncertainty and anxiety that we are all facing, it is more important than ever that there is a culture of clear, open, transparent and regular communications during the COVID-19 crisis between care providers and the families of their residents.

'This joint statement has been developed through collaboration between the National Care Forum and the Relatives and Residents Association. It has been endorsed by the Care Provider Alliance, the Care Quality Commission and Skills for Care. It sets out shared expectations and good practice relating to the importance of clear, open, transparent and regular communications during the COVID-19 crisis between care providers and the families of their residents. Many thanks to the NCF members who shared their good practice examples and to the Relatives and Residents Association for the insights and advice they have been able to offer.

'We know that regular, clear, open communications between care providers and the families of their residents are always immensely important and in the new COVID-19 world, they are even more critical.'

Helen Wildbore, Director of the Relatives & Residents Association says, 'We know from the calls to the Relatives & Residents Association Helpline that this is a distressing and agonising time for older people using care services, for their families and friends, and for staff.

'Our helpline is hearing from callers concerned about the well-being of their relatives in care, and for families who are not receiving information and updates from their relative’s care home, this can compound their anxiety. We know that care staff are working incredibly hard under extremely challenging circumstances, and that the lack of adequate testing is making this rapidly changing situation all the more difficult to manage.

'Keeping residents and their families updated on the situation in the home and steps taken to manage the virus will ensure an information gap doesn’t create unnecessary fear or anxiety. Open and honest flows of communication are central to good care. At a time of such uncertainty for those in care and their family, they are all the more critical.'

The full statement can be read on the Relatives & Residents Association website.


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