CQC publishes new survey showing the impact of lockdown on mental health and dignity

Published: 19 January 2022 Page last updated: 19 January 2022

New research published today by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carries a stark message on the challenges faced by health and social care services in England and has highlighted the importance of feedback for improving care

CQC’s research uncovered the impact of lockdown measures on the wellbeing of people who use care services. Nearly three quarters of carers (73%) say that the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions have had an impact on the mental health of the person they care for. Over half (56%) of carers say that the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions have had an impact on the dignity and independence of the person they care for.

This is reflected in concerns CQC has received from loved ones, stakeholders and people who use care services about the impact of isolation and restrictions on visiting. CQC recently published a statement and sent a clear message to providers on the importance of visitors for care users and their loved ones, particularly over the festive period. CQC addressed potential blanket visiting bans through inspections, safeguarding alerts and has worked with local authorities as a result of feedback from people who use care services and their loved ones.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC comments:

“This important new research from CQC underlines the stark challenges faced by people in health and social care. The recent pressures on services, the emergence of the Omicron variant and the impact this is having on the availability of workforce – a workforce that CQC reported to be exhausted and depleted in our State of Care report in October, continue to impact on the availability and quality of care people receive.

“Yet our research also shows the power and value that giving feedback on care can have. Over half (55%) of those who have provided positive feedback felt better as a result, and 8 in 10 staff value feedback from people and their carers. We use feedback to inform our regulatory action, conducting 10,000 inspections since the pandemic began to ensure people are receiving high quality care. We could not do this without the concerns people raise, and the positive feedback on services which we are able to use to share good practice.”

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association added:

“The findings in the CQC’s survey echo what we’ve heard from patients about their recent experiences – increased waits to get appointments, poor communication from health service providers and cancellations. The survey also shows patients understand all services are struggling to cope with the pressures the pandemic has caused and accept this is behind much of the current disruption to care.

“What concerns me, is the finding that three in five are not confident that feedback they give about their experience of health and social care services is used to help make care services better. We think it’s vital that patients and carers tell services about their experiences, whether that’s been a fantastic or terrible experience, because that’s how services can learn and improve what they do. If we want patients and carers to share their experiences, then health and care services have to do more to show how they’re using that feedback to improve services for all patients.”

Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England said:

“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, public feedback has played an important part in helping the NHS and social care services spot and respond to issues caused by the virus.

“As we continue to live with the pandemic, the NHS continues to face huge pressures across the whole system. NHS staff are grappling with many difficulties, including increased Covid demands, while trying to tackle the backlog in elective care and diagnostics that the pandemic had made so much worse.

“It is important that this is managed as well as possible, to make sure that the risks and distress to patients are minimised. That’s why it is vital people have the opportunity to share their views and experiences of care whether they have needed treatment for COVID or other illnesses. Their feedback will help services understand both key national and local issues and the steps they can take to serve patients better.”

CQC also found that throughout the pandemic care was most commonly impacted by increased waiting times for appointments and procedures (49%) and a lack of resources and equipment (24%). Despite almost half (42%) of respondents believing that sharing feedback would have a positive impact on their care, just 1 in 5 (19%) care users have shared feedback on a negative experience since the start of the pandemic.

With just 17% of people in England expecting services to improve in the next 12 months, CQC is calling for patients and carers to feedback on services as a crucial way to improve the quality of care services. Only 13% of adults in England say they know a lot about how to share feedback for care they have received themselves.

The latest research follows warnings CQC made in October 2021 that unless action was taken, the country faces a “Tsunami of need” in care without immediate action.

CQC and Healthwatch England launched #BecauseWeAllCare to help improve care services for all by encouraging everyone to feedback on their experiences of health and social care. The public’s views are needed now, more than ever, to help health and social care services respond to patients’ needs - during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond - and improve the quality of care for years to come.

Concerns shared with CQC help the regulator to spot poor care quickly and take action. If you have a concern that a loved one or someone you care for is not getting the care they should, or is being put at risk, do not hesitate to share your concerns using CQC's online feedback form or to speak directly to your care provider.

Because We All Care Campaign

The Because We All Care campaign aims to help services identify and address quality issues and support patients by encouraging people to share feedback on individual experiences of health and social care services in England. The campaign was launched by CQC and Healthwatch England in July 2020 and over 50,000 people so far have shared their ideas and experiences of how care can be made better.

Everyone has different experiences of care, so we want to hear feedback on health and social care from everyone. Tell us about your care to ensure services work better for us all.

People can give feedback on their experiences of care, or those of someone they care for, on the CQC website or if they wish to raise a concern about their care, or about the care received by a loved one or by someone they care for they can let CQC know by filling out our Give feedback on care form, or calling our contact centre on 03000 616161.

For enquiries about this press release please email regional.engagement@cqc.org.uk.

Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here. (Please note: the press office is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters.)

For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

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About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.