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Long term care facilities in England during the COVID-19 pandemic-a scoping review of guidelines, policy and recommendations

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Article number394
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>3/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


BACKGROUND: The disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on long term care facility (LTCF) residents has highlighted the need for clear, consistent guidance on the management of pandemics in such settings. As research exploring the experiences of LTCFs during the pandemic and the implications of mass hospital discharge, restricting staff movement, and limiting visitation from relatives are emerging, an in-depth review of policies, guidance and recommendations issued during this time could facilitate wider understanding in this area.

AIMS: To identify policies, guidance, and recommendations related to LTCF staff and residents, in England issued by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic, developing a timeline of key events and synthesizing the policy aims, recommendations, implementation and intended outcomes.

METHOD: A scoping review of publicly available policy documents, guidance, and recommendations related to COVID-19 in LTCFs in England, identified using systematic searches of UK government websites. The main aims, recommendations, implementation and intended outcomes reported in included documents were extracted. Data was analysed using thematic synthesis following a three-stage approach: coding the text, grouping codes into descriptive themes, and development of analytical themes.

RESULTS: Thirty-three key policy documents were included in the review. Six areas of recommendations were identified: infection prevention and control, hospital discharge, testing and vaccination, staffing, visitation and continuing routine care. Seven areas of implementation were identified: funding, collaborative working, monitoring and data collection, reducing workload, decision making and leadership, training and technology, and communication.

DISCUSSION: LTCFs remain complex settings, and it is imperative that lessons are learned from the experiences during COVID-19 to ensure that future pandemics are managed appropriately. This review has synthesized the policies issued during this time, however, the extent to which such guidance was communicated to LTCFs, and subsequently implemented, in addition to being effective, requires further research. In particular, understanding the secondary effects of such policies and how they can be introduced within the existing challenges inherent to adult social care, need addressing.