By Ashley Young-
Patients with long-term health conditions are most likely to avoid social care services due to risk factors around COVID-19, new research has concluded.
The research, commissioned by the Care Quality Commission and Health watch England was conducted on 2,000 adults in June. It sought to establish how people with underlying issues engaged with social care services during the heights of the pandemic. It found that 32% of people with a long-term health condition got more support from family and friends over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research also revealed that more than half (51% )of people with a long-term condition were “highly likely” to avoid health and care services compared to 29% of the average population.
A high 81% of people with long-term health conditions have reported issues when trying to access health and social care services, such as longer waiting times. The finding has alarmed health care professionals, and suggests that those avoiding social care services due to Covid-19 fears may become vulnerable to actually contracting Covid-19.
A spokesperson from The Care Commission And Health Watch England told The Eye Of Media.Com: ”patients with underlying issues included in our research avoided social care services, including Gps, Care homes and hospitals, as a result of the risks of catching Covid-19.
Most of them said they rather stayed at home or sent a relative to any care services to collect any medication for them”, the spokesperson said.
The CQC and Healthwatch England have called for further feedback from people with existing long-term conditions throughout the COVID crisis, as part of their ‘Because We All Care’ campaign.
The body provides weekly updates of death rates linked to Covid-19 to the Office Of National Statistics (ONS).
Kate Terroni,(pictured) chief inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC said, “We are listening to people with long-term health conditions and their families to help us improve the quality of care. It is only by hearing the voices of people who use services that we can understand what changes need to be made and how to support those services to improve and ensure people receive the care they need at this time.
“By giving feedback on your care you can make a real difference not just to your own care, but to the care of others.”
Healthwatch England National Director Imelda Redmond said: “It is a cruel irony that people with long-term health conditions who need our health services the most avoided seeking treatment during the pandemic, and often encountered problems when they did. By utilising the expertise of local Healthwatch and the relationships they have with their communities, we will be able to better understand the reasons behind these issues and other challenges people have faced.
“We will then use this learning to help health and social care leaders understand which changes and additional support measures may help, both now and through any potential future developments.
Around 15 million people in England are living with a long-term health condition and they are likely to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, according to Healthwatch England.
The Because We All Care campaign, which was launched in July, aims to help services identify and address quality issues and support people by encouraging them to share feedback on their experiences of health and social care services in England.