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Home-based care and support during the pandemic

Care at home during COVID-19

Media attention has focused on the impact of COVID-19 on institutionalised care settings (hospitals and care homes) but has generally overlooked the care and support provided within home settings during the pandemic, and its importance for sustaining people and keeping safe from infection. This study explores the experiences of home-based carers.

Changing care during COVID-19

Bedroom with washing rack and tins of food

COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing effectively reorganised the how the work of supporting, maintaining and sustaining people in everyday life was organised. The closure of schools, day centres, shops and non-essential services, alongside prohibitions on household mixing, have meant that caring work has been much more concentrated within households than in normal times. For reasons of health, age or physical frailty, a large number of adults have come to depend more than usual on others to support and care for them at home.

Despite differences between them, there are some basic similarities between what volunteers, care workers and carers do in looking after people in their own homes during the pandemic. All have been directly engaged in the vitally important work of sustaining people through the crisis, keeping them safe at home by ensuring some of their essential needs (for food, medicines) were met. Many were also providing company and comfort for people isolated at home. They did this in different ways depending on their role – in person, with PPE, over the phone, or at a safe two meters distance from the front door.

What did this project investigate?

Bakewell tart and bacon sandwich on plates

Funded by the British Academy, this qualitative study conducted by Dr Rosie Read (Principal Investigator) and Erica Ferris (research assistant) explores experiences of giving and receiving household-based care during 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic within south-west England (Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch (BCP) and Dorset).

Media attention has focused on the impact of Covid-19 on institutionalised care settings (hospitals and care homes) but has generally overlooked care and support provided within home settings during the pandemic, and its importance for sustaining people and keeping safe from infection.

This study approached care-giving as a form of reproductive work, which generally comprises caring and domestic tasks. The investigation collected the insights and perspectives of unwaged family carers, waged domiciliary care workers and volunteers involved in local state and community responses to supporting vulnerable groups at home during lockdowns. The research hopes to develop new insights on the interdependencies between care and support provided by the state/market, the family and the charity and community sectors.

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