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Exploring the challenges faced by frontline workers in health and social care amid the COVID-19 pandemic: experiences of frontline workers in the English Midlands region, UK

Nyashanu, Mathew and Pfende, Farai and Ekpenyong, Mandu (2020) Exploring the challenges faced by frontline workers in health and social care amid the COVID-19 pandemic: experiences of frontline workers in the English Midlands region, UK. Journal of Interprofessional Care. pp. 1-7. ISSN 1356-1820

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Abstract

The first cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) were reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Globally millions of people have been diagnosed with the virus whilst thousands have died. As the virus kept spreading health and social care frontline workers (HSCFW) were faced with difficulties when discharging their duties. This paper was set out to explore the challenges faced by different frontline workers in health and social care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research utilized an explorative qualitative approach. A total of forty (N = 40) in-depth one-to-one semi-structured interviews were undertaken with HSCFW who included support workers (n = 15), nurses (n = 15), and managers (N = 10). Health and social care workers were drawn from domiciliary care and care homes (with and without nursing services). All the interviews were done online. The data were thematically analyzed, and the emergent themes were supported by quotes from the interviews held with participants. Following data analysis the research study found that lack of pandemic preparedness, shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), anxiety and fear amongst professionals, challenges in enforcing social distancing, challenges in fulfilling social shielding responsibility, anxiety and fear amongst residents and service users, delay in testing, evolving PPE guidance and shortage of staff were challenges faced by frontline health and social care workers during COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the current study point to a need for adequate pandemic preparedness within the health and social care sector to protect both frontline workers and the individuals they look after.

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