Project IIRP08COV

Understanding the lived experience of infection transmission in care homes

UCAIRE is exploring how residents in older people’s care homes, their family/friends and care-home staff experience coping with preventing the spread and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19). Findings will inform the development of guidelines and support in managing future outbreaks of infectious diseases in care homes & in providing support to all those involved in care homes. 


Usual safety measures in care homes for older people have not fully controlled the spread of the highly infectious virus that causes COVID-19, so care homes added more safety measures.  These include restricting visitors and changing how care is given.  But we do not know how residents, families/ friends of residents and staff have coped with measures to prevent the virus spreading and if these met their needs.

Our study starts with an online survey open to staff in any job role.  It asks about working during COVID-19 and challenges to how staff coped trying to prevent the spread of infection.  Survey results will show us the different ways staff manage infection risk in care homes and how they feel about that.  Next we will interview residents, family/friends and staff to learn how they experienced coping with COVID-19.  We will ask them for details of how infection-control worked for them in daily life.  Their views will help us understand the impact on them of the steps taken to limit the spread of infection.  Interviews for staff and family/friends are online or on the telephone to remove infection risk.  Research Nurses will recruit residents and arrange interviews if UCAIRE researchers cannot enter care homes because of lockdown restrictions.

We will analyse information from the surveys and interviews, combine the results and write a report on what we have learned.  We will share findings with organisations in social care and use social media to raise awareness of the outcomes.  We aim for UCAIRE to add to findings on the best and most relevant steps and support that help residents, families and staff to cope with measures that control the spread of infectious diseases.  UCAIRE will also find out how responses to infection-control measures can support the actual needs of those who live, visit and work in care homes.

Project aims

UCAIRE uses two methods – an online survey; qualitative interviews – to achieve three main objectives:

  1. Carry out an online survey of staff who work in any job role in a care home.  The online survey will find out staff’s general views and specific concerns on the spread of COVID-19 within care homes for older people.
  2. Hold qualitative interviews with care-home residents, family/friends of residents and care-home staff.  Interviews will give us detailed information on how individuals experience infection-control measures and reducing the risk of infection during the pandemic.
  3. Combine the findings from the online survey with those from the interviews to gain full understandings of the experience of infection-control and risk and the needs of those living and working in care homes.  The results will be used to develop guidelines tailored for specific users:  care-home residents; family/friends of residents; care-home staff.

Who is involved?

Principle Investigator

Dr Kathleen Lane, University of East Anglia 

Researchers and institutions

  • Dr Julii Brainard, University of East Anglia 
  • Dr Diane Bunn, University of East Anglia 
  • Ms Julie Houghton, Carer/Patient Public Involvement 
  • Dr Anne Killett, University of East Anglia 
  • Professor Sarah O’Brien, University of Newcastle
  • Ms Suzanne Mumford, Care UK
  • Ms Laura Watts, University of East Anglia 

Contact us

Dr Kathleen Lane,