Nearly three quarters of carers say that the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have had an impact on the mental health of the person they care for, according to a new survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

It also found that over half (56%) of carers say that the restrictions have had an impact on the dignity and independence of the person they care for.

The Because We All Care survey looked at the impact of lockdown measures on people who use health and social care services. It 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.

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.”

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.

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.”