During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland, 46% of those who died of the virus (a total of 4,482 people) died in care homes. Alongside these, at least 14 care home workers also died of Covid-19.
In the researchers’ interviews, many care workers noted that they felt blamed for care home deaths and that they had been, during the crisis, an ‘afterthought’ to health care workers like doctors and nurses, despite undertaking stressful and high-pressure work.
Out of the seven job quality factors, workers felt that five areas had worsened following the outbreak of Covid-19. A safe work environment was a major cause for concern among those interviewed, with many reporting a lack of access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.
In the view of care workers, the pandemic confirmed long-held beliefs that existing attitudes towards older people – attitudes characterised by ageism – translated directly into a lack of recognition for those who care for them.
The one area which improved was that of purpose and meaning, with the majority of workers saying that a sense of purpose and making a difference is what keeps them in the job.