People with long-term health conditions are most likely to avoid social care services due to risk factors around COVID-19, new research has found.
The research, commissioned by the Care Quality Commission and Healthwatch England, shows that 51% of people with a long-term condition were “highly likely” to avoid health and care services compared to 29% of the average population.
Meanwhile, 81% of people with long-term health conditions have reported issues when trying to access health and social care services, such as longer waiting times. This is 17% higher than the general population.
The research, conducted on 2,000 adults in June, also found that 32% of people with a long-term health condition got more support from family and friends over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CQC and Healthwatch England are now calling for feedback from people with exisiting long-term conditions on their care throughout the COVID crisis, as part of their ‘Because We All Care’ campaign.
Kate Terroni, chief inspector of Adult Social Care at CQC said, “We are listening to people with long-term health conditions and their families to help us improve the quality of care. It is only by hearing the voices of people who use services that we can understand what changes need to be made and how to support those services to improve and ensure people receive the care they need at this time.
“By giving feedback on your care you can make a real difference not just to your own care, but to the care of others.”
Healthwatch England National Director Imelda Redmond said: “It is a cruel irony that people with long-term health conditions who need our health services the most avoided seeking treatment during the pandemic, and often encountered problems when they did. By utilising the expertise of local Healthwatch and the relationships they have with their communities, we will be able to better understand the reasons behind these issues and other challenges people have faced.
“We will then use this learning to help health and social care leaders understand which changes and additional support measures may help, both now and through any potential future developments.
Around 15 million people in England are living with a long-term health condition and they are likely to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, according to Healthwatch England.
The Because We All Care campaign, which was launched in July, aims to help services identify and address quality issues and support people by encouraging them to share feedback on their experiences of health and social care services in England.