Agerholm J, Burström B, Schön P, Liljas A
BMC Health Serv Res 23 (1) 1173 [2023-10-27; online 2023-10-27]
In the spring of 2020, the Covid-19 outbreak sent a shock wave through the Swedish society and placed an extraordinary pressure on the health and social care system for older people. In the initial phase there were few guidelines for care providers to follow and staff in home care organisations often had to tackle challenges posed by the pandemic as they appeared. The aim of this study was to understand how the spread of Covid-19 was managed in organisations providing home care to older adults in different municipalities in Region Stockholm, and what actions were taken to minimise the spread of the disease among clients and staff. A descriptive qualitative study was performed based on eight interviews with managers of home care providers for older adults in three different municipalities in Region Stockholm.Three of the eight providers operate within an integrated care system. Data were analysed using conventional content analysis. Three themes were identified covering actions taken to handle the spread of the virus, feelings of insecurity and anxiety, and internal and external factors influencing how the pandemic was tackled. There was no single strategy followed by all municipalities or organisations, however, there were similarities between the organisations. One such example was the introduction of cohort care and the experience of lacking personal protective equipment. Providers in the integrated care system emphasized some advantages with their system that was seen as facilitators for minimising the risk of spreading the virus, like the joint meetings with managers from both health and social care and the close contact with healthcare professionals in relation to dissemination of hygiene instructions. Social care workers providing home care to older persons are an important group in preventing dissemination of infectious diseases like Covid-19. For better readiness and preparedness for future pandemics, municipal home care services would need larger stocks of personal protective equipment, clear guidelines and more training on how to reduce dissemination of disease. Ways to achieve closer communication between health and social care providers should also be investigated.