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BMJ Open ; 11(9): e045579, 2021 09 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1406655


OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether National Early Warning Scores (NEWS/NEWS2) could contribute to COVID-19 surveillance in care homes. SETTING: 460 care home units using the same software package to collect data on residents, from 46 local authority areas in England. PARTICIPANTS: 6464 care home residents with at least one NEWS recording. EXPOSURE MEASURE: 29 656 anonymised person-level NEWS from 29 December 2019 to 20 May 2020 with component physiological measures: systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, pulse rate, temperature and oxygen saturation. Baseline values for each measure calculated using 80th and 20th centile scores before March 2020. OUTCOME MEASURE: Cross-correlation comparison of time series with Office for National Statistics weekly reported registered deaths of care home residents where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death, and all other deaths (excluding COVID-19) up to 10 May 2020. RESULTS: Deaths due to COVID-19 were registered from 23 March 2020 in the local authority areas represented in the study. Between 23 March 2020 and 10 May 2020, there were 5753 deaths (1532 involving COVID-19 and 4221 other causes). We observed a rise in the proportion of above-baseline NEWS beginning 16 March 2020, followed 2 weeks later by an increase in registered deaths (cross-correlation of r=0.82, p<0.05 for a 2 week lag) in corresponding local authorities. The proportion of above-baseline oxygen saturation, respiratory rate and temperature measurements also increased approximately 2 weeks before peaks in deaths. CONCLUSIONS: NEWS could contribute to COVID-19 disease surveillance in care homes during the pandemic. Oxygen saturation, respiratory rate and temperature could be prioritised as they appear to signal rise in mortality almost as well as NEWS. This study reinforces the need to collate data from care homes, to monitor and protect residents' health. Further work using individual level outcome data is needed to evaluate the role of NEWS in the early detection of resident illness.

COVID-19 , Early Warning Score , England/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
BMJ Open ; 11(7): e045469, 2021 07 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1329054


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the care home sector, with residents accounting for up to half of all deaths in Europe. The response to acute illness in care homes plays a particularly important role in the care of residents during a pandemic. Digital recording of a National Early Warning Score (NEWS), which involves the measurement of physical observations, started in care homes in one area of England in 2016. Implementation of a NEWS intervention (including equipment, training and support) was accelerated early in the pandemic, despite limited evidence for its use in the care home setting. OBJECTIVES: To understand how a NEWS intervention has been used in care homes in one area of North-East England during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it has influenced resident care, from the perspective of stakeholders involved in care delivery and commissioning. METHODS: A qualitative interview study with care home (n=10) and National Health Service (n=7) staff. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Use of the NEWS intervention in care homes in this area accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stakeholders felt that NEWS, and its associated education and support package, improved the response of care homes and healthcare professionals to deterioration in residents' health during the pandemic. Healthcare professionals valued the ability to remotely monitor resident observations, which facilitated triage and treatment decisions. Care home staff felt empowered by NEWS, providing a common clinical language to communicate concerns with external services, acting as an adjunct to staff intuition of resident deterioration. CONCLUSIONS: The NEWS intervention formed an important part of the care home response to COVID-19 in the study area. Positive staff perceptions now need to be supplemented with data on the impact on resident health and well-being, workload, and service utilisation, during the pandemic and beyond.

COVID-19 , Early Warning Score , England/epidemiology , Europe , Humans , Nursing Homes , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , State Medicine
Age Ageing ; 49(5): 701-705, 2020 08 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-247828


The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected care home residents internationally, with 19-72% of COVID-19 deaths occurring in care homes. COVID-19 presents atypically in care home residents and up to 56% of residents may test positive whilst pre-symptomatic. In this article, we provide a commentary on challenges and dilemmas identified in the response to COVID-19 for care homes and their residents. We highlight the low sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction testing and the difficulties this poses for blanket screening and isolation of residents. We discuss quarantine of residents and the potential harms associated with this. Personal protective equipment supply for care homes during the pandemic has been suboptimal and we suggest that better integration of procurement and supply is required. Advance care planning has been challenged by the pandemic and there is a need to for healthcare staff to provide support to care homes with this. Finally, we discuss measures to implement augmented care in care homes, including treatment with oxygen and subcutaneous fluids, and the frameworks which will be required if these are to be sustainable. All of these challenges must be met by healthcare, social care and government agencies if care home residents and staff are to be physically and psychologically supported during this time of crisis for care homes.

Coronavirus Infections , Delivery of Health Care , Homes for the Aged , Long-Term Care , Nursing Homes , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Quarantine , Aged , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/standards , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Delivery of Health Care/standards , Health Services Needs and Demand , Homes for the Aged/organization & administration , Homes for the Aged/standards , Humans , Long-Term Care/methods , Long-Term Care/standards , Nursing Homes/organization & administration , Nursing Homes/standards , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Quarantine/organization & administration , Quarantine/psychology , SARS-CoV-2