CARE in the time of the COVID-19 Corona Epidemic

The Community Ageing Research 75+ Study, better known as CARE75+, is a national longitudinal cohort study of older people. Fortunately for the CARE75+ study we are able to continue with some limited data collection during these challenging times, although all new recruitment is suspended.

CARE75+ has always offered alternative data collection methods to the usual face-to-face format. We offer ‘over the phone’ and web-submission data collection at 6 months and 24 months. For the duration of the COVID-19 restrictions we are extending this to all time-points, apart from baseline.

Farhat, a researcher on CARE75+, has been undertaking phone assessments this month and reports that participants are happy and reassured to hear from her (some were worried that they might have been forgotten about), enjoy the engagement and are still willing to give their time to the study. A number of CARE75+ participants are isolated and and a friendly voice on the end of the phone appears to be very welcome. As such, we are confident that we have made the right decision to continue to collect data where we are able to.

However, over the phone date collection is not without challenges. Many CARE75+ participants are hearing impaired and conducting assessments over the phone can be tiring for participants; where necessary, the researchers ‘split’ assessments over a couple of calls to ease the burden.

We also provide the option of online-web submission. Take-up for this is quite low, however, increasingly older people are ‘tech savvy’ and we anticipate more people will utilise this option in our next iteration of CARE75+.

So the plan is to continue collecting data where we can. This will not be possible for everyone as we estimate about 10-15% of participants require face to face data collection.

Additionally, we have ‘acquired’ the follow-ups for our West Midlands sites as staff move into clinical roles for a while. So the team in Bradford will be kept busy. Finally, we are making progress with our next iteration of CARE75+ which will include new sites and substantial changes to our outcome measures. Watch this space for more details.

This blog was written by Lesley Brown, CARE75+ Project Manager, Theme Manager, Older People with Frailty theme, Y&H ARC.

23 April 2020