AN action plan to protect and support older people living in care homes in Wales is need to ensure the right decisions are made at the right time, says Wales's Older People’s Commissioner.

Helena Herklots wants the Welsh Government to publish such a plan, her call coming on the day a new report - Care Home Voices: A snapshot of life in care homes in Wales during Covid-19 - is published.

The report highlights the issues and challenges that care home residents and staff have faced during the pandemic, based on what some of those residents, staff, managers and families have told her - and it examines too, how the response to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown have affected older people.

Anonymised quotes voice fears that families may not see their loved ones again due to being unable to visit them or on occasion obtain updates from homes as to their wellbeing.

Care home staff speak of their fears of catching coronavirus as a result of the work they do, and of taking it back to their own family homes. They also highlight concerns over availability of personal protective equipment, testing, and time taken to receive results.

Fears over funding and difficulty in accessing financial help through councils are raised by managers.

But staff - who also raise concerns over salary levels - are praised by families and their bosses for their dedication and hard work.


"In recent months we have seen a tragedy unfolding in our care homes, and it has concerned me greatly that the voices of people living and working in our care homes - experts by experiences - have not been sufficiently heard," said Ms Herklots, who last month reported the Welsh Government to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over delays to coronavirus testing in care homes.

“This report provides a snapshot of life in care homes in Wales during the pandemic and highlights the significant impact that Covid-19 has had on residents and staff, and the issues and challenges they have faced.

“It also highlights examples of good practice that has made a positive difference to older people’s lives during the past few months, particularly the dedication and commitment of care home staff.

“I have used the experiences shared with me to identify actions that are needed across a number of key areas to ensure that people living and working in care homes are supported and protected.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond and share their experiences with me.

"I know for some this would have been incredibly difficult - but it’s crucial that their voices are heard and are at the centre of plans and decisions about what happens in our care homes as we navigate the difficult path ahead of us.”

Ms Herklots says an action plan for care homes would allow constructive and responsible scrutiny of the action already underway or planned, and would provide reassurance to people living and working in care homes.

“Without a published action plan, many older people and their families and friends, as well as the staff who care for and support them will not be assured that the right action will be taken at the right time to protect residents and staff," she said.

“Publishing an action plan would also allow greater scrutiny of the decisions being made and the action being taken by the Welsh Government and other public bodies, which is crucial as we move forward.

“Alongside this, it’s also crucial that the voices of people living and working in care homes are heard and I will continue to reach out and engage with them and use their experiences as a powerful evidence base to influence policy and drive change for older people.”