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Establishing the impact of COVID-19 on the health of domiciliary care workers in Wales: developing a model for UK service planning and carer support.

Outcomes for Social Carers: an Analysis using Routine data (OSCAR)

Domiciliary Care Workers (DCWs) are employed in both public and private sectors to support adults at home. The support they provide varies but often includes personal care, which demands close contact between care worker and the person being supported.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people working across the care sectors in England and Wales have experienced higher rates of death involving COVID-19 infection. Social care workers, in both residential and domiciliary care settings, have been particularly affected, with rates of death involving COVID-19 approximately double that for health care workers.

We aim to generate rapid high-quality evidence based on the views of care workers and by data formed from linking care workers' registration data to routine electronic heath record (EHR) data. We can use this information to inform public health interventions for safer working practice and additional support for care workers.

Research approach

OSCAR uses a combination of research methods. We will use existing administrative data involving carer professional registration records as well as health care records. In our analysis, we will describe the socio-demographic characteristics of the group of care workers in the research database, for example, their average age. We will establish the number of care workers with both suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infection. Will explore how infection with COVID-19 has impacted on key health outcomes, including whether workers were admitted to hospital or died. We will also explore the health of care workers before and during COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis of these data will be guided in part by qualitative interviews that we have conducted with domiciliary care workers in Wales.

The interviews explored the experiences of care workers during the course of the pandemic. Through stakeholder engagement we are ensuring the results from our analysis of care workers in Wales can be used to inform what may be happening for workers in other countries in the UK.

Implementation Reference Group

To ensure that our findings will be of most use to those working in social care, we are working with an Implementation Reference Group. The group includes key stakeholders such as representatives from regulators, sector skills and care workers from across the UK. Working with this group, we are providing rapid recommendations to drive public health initiatives for care worker safety.

Our first policy briefing [December 2021] reports on the experiences of carers during the pandemic through our qualitative study and the short-term outcomes reported from the administrative data.