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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on domiciliary care workers in Wales, UK: a data linkage cohort study using the SAIL Databank

Cannings-John, Rebecca ORCID:, Schoenbuchner, Simon, Jones, Hywel, Lugg-Widger, Fiona V. ORCID:, Akbari, Ashley, Brookes-Howell, Lucy ORCID:, Hood, Kerenza ORCID:, John, Ann, Thomas, Daniel Rh, Prout, Hayley ORCID: and Robling, Michael ORCID: 2023. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on domiciliary care workers in Wales, UK: a data linkage cohort study using the SAIL Databank. BMJ Open 13 (6) , e070637. 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-070637

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Objectives To quantify population health risks for domiciliary care workers (DCWs) in Wales, UK, working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design A population-level retrospective study linking occupational registration data to anonymised electronic health records maintained by the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank in a privacy-protecting trusted research environment. Setting Registered DCW population in Wales. Participants Records for all linked DCWs from 1 March 2020 to 30 November 2021. Primary and secondary outcome measures Our primary outcome was confirmed COVID-19 infection; secondary outcomes included contacts for suspected COVID-19, mental health including self-harm, fit notes, respiratory infections not necessarily recorded as COVID-19, deaths involving COVID-19 and all-cause mortality. Results Confirmed and suspected COVID-19 infection rates increased over the study period to 24% by 30 November 2021. Confirmed COVID-19 varied by sex (males: 19% vs females: 24%) and age (>55 years: 19% vs <35 years: 26%) and were higher for care workers employed by local authority social services departments compared with the private sector (27% and 23%, respectively). 34% of DCWs required support for a mental health condition, with mental health-related prescribing increasing in frequency when compared with the prepandemic period. Events for self-harm increased from 0.2% to 0.4% over the study period as did the issuing of fit notes. There was no evidence to suggest a miscoding of COVID-19 infection with non-COVID-19 respiratory conditions. COVID-19-related and all-cause mortality were no greater than for the general population aged 15–64 years in Wales (0.1% and 0.034%, respectively). A comparable DCW workforce in Scotland and England would result in a comparable rate of COVID-19 infection, while the younger workforce in Northern Ireland may result in a greater infection rate. Conclusions While initial concerns about excess mortality are alleviated, the substantial pre-existing and increased mental health burden for DCWs will require investment to provide long-term support to the sector’s workforce.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Centre for Trials Research (CNTRR)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 2044-6055
Funders: ESRC, UKRI
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 12 May 2023
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 02:05

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