COVID-19 resources

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"Don't ever call us unskilled again!'': learning from the experience of support workers during Covid-19

Paradigm

This report is based on responses from the Gr8 Support Covid-19 snapshot survey which invited support workers across the country to capture their experiences, thoughts, ideas and learning during the pandemic and share these with the nation. The report captures how support workers responded during the pandemic with thoughtfulness, creativity and dedication; some key messages and 'must haves' for moving forward beyond the pandemic; the plea of support workers to be valued and recognised as essential and highly skilled members of the social care workforce, not just now but as society moves forward. Key messages in responding to the pandemic emerging from this study include: supported living settings need clear, timely guidance; coronavirus tests must be available in supported living settings; support each person out of lockdown in the way that is right for them; recognise and support the essential role of support workers at this time; recognise and support the role of families and unpaid carers; society needs to act responsibly as lockdown eases; keep building on the community spirit; and get ready for a possible second wave. More broadly, the report calls for valuing and investing in social care; supporting people to regain and experience flourishing lives; increase the pay of support workers to reflect their highly skilled, complex and diverse roles; and ensure the profile of support workers is understood and valued.

Last updated on hub: 23 September 2020

"Oh, this is actually okay": understanding how one state child welfare training system adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: Training for new and existing child protection system (CPS) caseworkers is critical to developing and maintaining a competent workforce that effectively works towards safety, permanency, and wellbeing outcomes for children in the system. The COVID-19 pandemic required a shift to virtual training to continue training CPS professionals safely. Objective: The purpose of our project was to determine if there were differences in learning outcomes between learners who completed training in the usual delivery methods (Pre-COVID) and the fully virtual delivery methods (Post-COVID). We also sought to understand any factors that facilitated or impeded successful virtual training during the pandemic. Participants and setting: Caseworkers-in-training completed learning and satisfaction assessments through standard continuing quality improvement efforts. Training facilitators, course developers, and leadership completed qualitative interviews. Methods: We assessed quantitative differences in one US state in learner knowledge, satisfaction, and behaviors before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted a qualitative thematic analysis of interviews with training system employees. Results: Overall, there were limited differences in learner outcomes before and after the transition to virtual training delivery. Across the employee interviews, three main themes emerged: organizational culture facilitated the transition, external constraints caused challenges during the transition, and there were opportunities to evolve training practices positively. Conclusions: The shift to a virtual learning environment had little impact on learner knowledge or satisfaction. Employee perspectives indicated that the pre-COVID investment in organizational culture has substantial dividends for performance during the crisis.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

"There is something very personal about seeing someone’s face”: provider perceptions of video visits in home-based primary care during COVID-19

Journal of Applied Gerontology

The rapid deployment of video visits during COVID-19 may have posed unique challenges for home-based primary care (HBPC) practices due to their hands-on model of care and older adult population. This qualitative study examined provider perceptions of video visits during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis in New York City (NYC) through interviews with HBPC clinical/medical directors, program managers, nurse practitioners/nurse managers, and social work managers (n = 13) at six NYC-area practices. Providers reported a combination of commercial (health system-supported) and consumer (e.g., FaceTime) technological platforms was essential. Video visit benefits included triaging patient needs, collecting patient information, and increasing scheduling capacity. Barriers included cognitive and sensory abilities, technology access, reliance on caregivers and aides, addressing sensitive topics, and incomplete exams. Effectively integrating video visits requires considering how technology can be proactively integrated into practice. A policy that promotes platform flexibility will be crucial in fostering video integration.

Last updated on hub: 18 August 2021

#LeftInLockdown – parent carers’ experiences of lockdown

Disabled Children’s Partnership

Findings from an online survey to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown on families with disabled children across the UK. The survey was promoted between 1 -17 May 2020 via social channels, direct emails to supporters of DCP charities, parent carer groups and networks. The survey covers the following areas: caring in lockdown, information and support, health and social care, education and learning; money and work; and what the government could do to help now and with the transition from lockdown. Parents report an increased caring load, both for themselves and for their disabled children's siblings; they feel exhausted, stressed, anxious and abandoned by society – in many cases, the support families previously received has now stopped. Many families are seeing declines in both mental and physical health – parents are particularly concerned about the pressure of children's behaviour and mental wellbeing; managing home-schooling; and what will happen to their children if they contract Covid-19. The little support that had previously been provided for families has often stopped altogether. Children's friendships, learning and communications, mental and physical health, and emotions and behaviour have all been negatively impacted. In addition, the lockdown is increasing financial pressures on families. Parents call for action now, including: acknowledgement and respect for their situation and the challenges they face; increased support – both financial and services; information and guidance more specifically at families with disabled children; flexibility – including from employers, schools, and around lockdown rules to enable family and friends to provide support.

Last updated on hub: 09 December 2020

#Morethanavisitor: families as “essential” care partners during COVID-19

Gerontologist

The public health response to the current Coronavirus pandemic in long-term care communities, including assisted living, encompasses prohibiting visitors. This ban, which includes family members, has been criticized for being unfair, unhealthy, and unsafe. Against this backdrop, the author examines the roles family play in residents’ daily lives and care routines. This paper argues that classifying family as “visitors” rather than essential care partners overlooks their critical contributions and stems from taken-for-granted assumption about gender, families, and care work, and this paper demonstrates why families are more than visitors. Policies that ban family visits also reflect a narrow understanding of health that focuses on mitigating infection risk, but neglects overall health and well-being. This policy further stems from a limited comprehension of care relations. Research shows that banning family visits has negative consequences for residents, but also families themselves, and direct care workers. This paper argues that identifying ways to better understand and support family involvement is essential and demonstrate the utility of the Convoys of Care model for guiding the reconceptualization of family in long-term care research, policy, and practice during and beyond the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 25 February 2021

‘A lot of small things make a difference’. Mental health and strategies of coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

Health Expectations

Introduction: The social and economic consequences of COVID-19 have the potential to affect individuals and populations through different pathways (e.g., bereavement, loss of social interaction). Objective: This study adopted a solicited diary method to understand how mental health was affected during England's first lockdown. We also considered the experiences of diary keeping during a pandemic from the perspective of public participants. Methods: Fifteen adults older than 18 years of age were recruited from northwest England. Diarists completed semistructured online diaries for 8 weeks, which was combined with weekly calls. A focus group captured participants' experiences of diary keeping. Findings: Four key factors influenced mental health, which fluctuated over time and in relation to diarists' situations. These concerned navigating virus risk, loss of social connections and control and constrictions of the domestic space. Diarists also enacted a range of strategies to cope with the pandemic. This included support from social networks, engagement with natural environments, establishing normality, finding meaning and taking affirmative action. Conclusion: Use of diary methods provided insights into the lived experiences of the early months of a global pandemic. As well as contributing evidence on its mental health effects, diarists' accounts illuminated considerable resourcefulness and strategies of coping with positive effects for well-being. While diary keeping can also have therapeutic benefits during adversity, ethical and practical issues need to be considered, which include the emotional nature of diary keeping. Public Contribution: Members of the public were involved in interpretation of data as well as critiquing the overall diary method used in the study.

Last updated on hub: 08 May 2022

‘A silent epidemic of grief’: a survey of bereavement care provision in the UK and Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMJ Open

Objectives To investigate the experiences and views of practitioners in the UK and Ireland concerning changes in bereavement care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design Online survey using a snowball sampling approach. Setting Practitioners working in hospitals, hospices, care homes and community settings across the UK and Ireland. Participants Health and social care professionals involved in bereavement support. Interventions Brief online survey distributed widely across health and social care organisations. Results 805 respondents working in hospice, community, and hospital settings across the UK and Ireland completed the survey between 3 August and 4 September 2020. Changes to bereavement care practice were reported in: the use of telephone, video and other forms of remote support (90%); supporting people bereaved from non-COVID conditions (76%), from COVID-19 (65%) and people bereaved before the pandemic (61%); funeral arrangements (61%); identifying bereaved people who might need support (56%); managing complex forms of grief (48%) and access to specialist services (41%). Free-text responses demonstrated the complexities and scale of the impact on health and social care services, practitioners and their relationships with bereaved families, and on bereaved people. Conclusions: The pandemic has created major challenges for the support of bereaved people: increased needs for bereavement care, transition to remote forms of support and the stresses experienced by practitioners, among others. The extent to which services are able to adapt, meet the escalating level of need and help to prevent a ‘tsunami of grief’ remains to be seen. The pandemic has highlighted the need for bereavement care to be considered an integral part of health and social care provision.

Last updated on hub: 31 March 2021

‘All in this together?’ A commentary on the impact of COVID-19 on disability day services in Ireland

Disability and Society

Disability services in Ireland faced a financial crisis which was exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resumption of day services for people with disabilities placed the bulk of the financial burden on these disability services following initial non-committal governmental support. Disability day services closed in March 2020 with services operating at a much-reduced capacity since this date. This reduction of services has negatively impacted people with disabilities who were already experiencing inequalities in Irish society pre-COVID-19. Will the commitment of financial provision to support resumption of services positively impact on people with disabilities, or are historic inequalities faced by disabled people likely to continue in Ireland?

Last updated on hub: 16 June 2021

‘All in this together?’ A commentary on the impact of COVID-19 on disability day services in Ireland

Disability and Society

Disability services in Ireland faced a financial crisis which was exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resumption of day services for people with disabilities placed the bulk of the financial burden on these disability services following initial non-committal governmental support. Disability day services closed in March 2020 with services operating at a much-reduced capacity since this date. This reduction of services has negatively impacted people with disabilities who were already experiencing inequalities in Irish society pre-COVID-19. Will the commitment of financial provision to support resumption of services positively impact on people with disabilities, or are historic inequalities faced by disabled people likely to continue in Ireland?

Last updated on hub: 29 November 2021

‘Fix the issues at the coalface and mental wellbeing will be improved’: a framework analysis of frontline NHS staff experiences and use of health and wellbeing resources in a Scottish health board area during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMC Health Services Research

Background: Frontline healthcare staff working in pandemics have been reported to experience mental health issues during the early and post-peak stages. To alleviate these problems, healthcare organisations have been providing support for their staff, including organisational, cognitive behavioural and physical and mental relaxation interventions. This paper reports the findings of a study commissioned by a Scottish NHS health board area during the initial outbreak of COVID-19. The study aimed to understand the experience of NHS staff relating to the provision of wellbeing interventions between March and August 2020. Methods: Data were gathered from free-text comments of eight surveys completed by a wide range of staff across sites within one NHS health board in Scotland. We conducted a framework analysis of the data. Results: The findings show that despite the provision of relaxational and cognitive behavioural interventions to support staff wellbeing during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were barriers to access, including heavy workload, understaffing, inconvenient locations and the stigma of being judged. Organisational factors were the most frequently reported support need amongst frontline staff across sites. Conclusions: While relaxational and cognitive behavioural interventions were well received by staff, barriers to accessing them still existed. Staff support in the context of organisational factors, such as engagement with managers was deemed as the most important for staff wellbeing. Managers play a key role in everyday organisational processes and therefore are in the right position to meet increasing frontline staff demands due to the pandemic and removing barriers to accessing wellbeing support. Healthcare managers should be aware of organisational factors that might increase job demands and protect organisational resources that can promote wellbeing for frontline staff.

Last updated on hub: 29 October 2021

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