What is it like for residents when there is an outbreak of an infection in their care home?

How does life change for them when this happens?

In this study, we hope to answer these questions. Please read on for more information. 

There is an ongoing risk of infectious disease outbreak in care homes such as norovirus, flu and scabies. This is due to close proximity of residents and staff, as well as the vulnerability of residents. Care homes are required to report notifiable infectious outbreak to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), so that appropriate support from the local Health Protection Team scan be put in place.

The occurrence of infectious outbreak and its control can lead to a number of changes to everyday life for residents and staff, as staff and infection control team work together to reduce the impact of the changes and prevent the spread of infections, in order to protect residents, staff and visitors. Implementing these changes may affect resident’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Using a case-study approach, researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Kent have worked with care homes, with recent experience of managing infectious outbreak, to explore the feasibility of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit (ASCOT) to assess the impact of infectious disease outbreaks on residents’ quality of life.

Following preliminary interviews with care homes’ managers, we undertook preliminary analyses and returned to them for a second interview to seek further feedback and validation. 

We also invited health and social care professionals with experience in supporting care homes in managing infectious disease outbreaks, to take part in an interview, so that we could hear about their perspectives.

The project is funded by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The lead for this study is Dr Diane Bunn, Associate Professor of Nursing Research, School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia (UEA);

Tel: 01603 591966; email: d.bunn@uea.ac.uk  

Key research questions

  • Can we use the Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit (ASCOT) to evaluate the impacts of outbreak measures on care home residents’ quality of life (QoL)?

Summary of methods

In the first phase, we met with a small number of care home managers, or their deputies, to talk about an infectious outbreak, what happened, and how life may have changed for residents whilst it was ongoing. In particular, we wanted to see whether the ASCOT Toolkit might be useful in helping to identify changes to any of the following:

  • Personal care
  • Food and drink
  • Resident’s control over their daily life
  • Resident safety
  • Social participation
  • Occupation
  • Accommodation
  • Dignity

In the second phase, we discussed our findings with care home staff, as well as health and care professionals, to see how useful these findings may be to other care homes when experiencing an infectious outbreak.

Our findings are being reported to the UKHSA (funders) and presented at local and national meetings and  will be  published in local and national newsletters and peer-reviewed journals. All the details of these will be available on our web-pages.

Study Findings

Preliminary findings from the study were presented at the British Society of Gerontology Conference, 4th July 2024.

The abstract can be found here.

List of researchers

Project page - University of Kent

Study duration

The project started in December 2023 and ended 31 May 2024.

We will keep this page updated with details of study findings as they are published.