COVID-19 resources

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Ensuring equity for people living with disabilities in the age of COVID-19

Disability and Society

People with disabilities are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. They may also suffer from lack of accessible emergency preparedness plans, communication and healthcare. Protective measures for people with disabilities should be endorsed and prioritized at a community level to adjust for social distancing. Repositories of local resources for emergency outreach in this time are also crucial. Telemedicine offers an innovative and safe way for health providers to care for people with disabilities to access many critical services without placing themselves or their caregivers at increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Communication strategies for critical information about resources for people with disabilities should be accessible. United States hospitals and government agencies should make allocation guideline proposals accessible to people with disabilities and incorporate bias training.

Last updated on hub: 16 November 2020

Can integrated care help in meeting the challenges posed on our health care systems by COVID-19? Some preliminary lessons learned from the European VIGOUR project

International Journal of Integrated Care

The COVID-19 pandemic puts health and care systems under pressure globally. This current paper highlights challenges arising in the care for older and vulnerable populations in this context and reflects upon possible perspectives for different systems making use of nested integrated care approaches adapted during the work of the EU-funded project VIGOUR (“Evidence based Guidance to Scale-up Integrated Care in Europe”, funded by the European Union’s Health Programme 2014–2020 under Grant Agreement Number 826640).

Last updated on hub: 16 November 2020

Dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes: a protocol for room moving and cohorting

Article published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology by Kain, D. et al, October 2020. A letter to the editor that sets out some principals of room movements in long-term care homes during the COVID-19 in the context of Canadian care homes.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Evolution and effects of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: a population analysis in 189 care homes in one geographical region of the UK

Citation: Burton, J. K. et al. (2020). Evolution and effects of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: a population analysis in 189 care homes in one geographical region of the UK. The Lancet Healthy Longevity, 1(1), e21-e31.Background: COVID-19 has affected care home residents internationally, but detailed information on outbreaks is scarce. This study aimed to describe the evolution of outbreaks of COVID-19 in all care homes in one large health region in Scotland. Methods: The researchers did a population analysis of testing, cases, and deaths in care homes in the National Health Service (NHS) Lothian health region of the UK. This study obtained data for COVID-19 testing (PCR testing of nasopharyngeal swabs for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2]) and deaths (COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related), and the researchers analysed data by several variables including type of care home, number of beds, and locality. Outcome measures were timing of outbreaks, number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in care home residents, care home characteristics associated with the presence of an outbreak, and deaths of residents in both care homes and hospitals. This study calculated excess deaths (both COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related), defined as the sum of deaths over and above the historical average in the same period over the past 5 years. Findings: Between March 10 and Aug 2, 2020, residents at 189 care homes (5843 beds) were tested for COVID-19 when symptomatic. A COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed at 69 (37%) care homes, of which 66 (96%) were care homes for older people. The size of care homes for older people was strongly associated with a COVID-19 outbreak (odds ratio per 20-bed increase 3·35, 95% CI 1·99–5·63). 907 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were recorded during the study period, and 432 COVID-19-related deaths. 229 (25%) COVID-19-related cases and 99 (24%) COVID-related deaths occurred in five (3%) of 189 care homes, and 441 (49%) cases and 207 (50%) deaths were in 13 (7%) care homes. 411 (95%) COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the 69 care homes with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, 19 (4%) deaths were in hospital, and two (<1%) were in one of the 120 care homes without a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. At the 69 care homes with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, 74 excess non-COVID-19-related deaths were reported, whereas ten non-COVID-19-related excess deaths were observed in the 120 care homes without a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. 32 fewer non-COVID-19-related deaths than expected were reported among care home residents in hospital. Interpretation: The effect of COVID-19 on care homes has been substantial but concentrated in care homes with known outbreaks. A key implication from the findings is that, if community incidence of COVID-19 increases again, many care home residents will be susceptible. Shielding care home residents from potential sources of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and ensuring rapid action to minimise outbreak size if infection is introduced, will be important for any second wave.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Caught off guard by covid-19: Now what?

Article published by the journal Geriatric Nursing by Gray-Miceli D. et al, October 2020. Human beings are social in nature and maintaining social interactions, relationships and intimacy are fundamental needs of older adults (OAs) living in assisted living (AL) communities. Yet, these very basic human needs have been impeded by quarantine mandates imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The socialization aspect offered in AL, allows for an integration of the whole person: body, mind, and spirit and is beneficial in mitigating the development of co-morbidities and negative patient outcomes. Additionally, the authenticity of home comes from the caring interactions provided by an interprofessional health care staff. Utilizing the 4 M Framework, created by The John A. Hartford Foundation and Institute of Healthcare Improvement, the authors describe simple direct bedside interventions of low cost, and high patient-centered value which front-line nursing and caregiver staff can employ to maintain social connections, interactions, mentation, function and mobility among residents they care for, and care about, in AL communities.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Maintaining resident social connections during COVID-19: considerations for long-term care

Citation: Ickert, C. et al. Maintaining Resident Social Connections During COVID-19: Considerations for Long-Term Care. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 6. Worldwide, long-term care (LTC) homes have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The significant risk of COVID-19 to LTC residents has resulted in major public health restrictions placed on LTC visitation. This article describes the important considerations for the facilitation of social connections between LTC residents and their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the experiences of 10 continuing care homes in Alberta, Canada. Important considerations include: technology, physical space, human resource requirements, scheduling and organization, and infection prevention and control. This paper describes some of the challenges encountered when implementing alternative visit approaches such as video and phone visits, window visits and outdoor in-person visits, and share several strategies and approaches to managing this new process within LTC.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Preventing COVID-19 spread in closed facilities by regular testing of employees – an efficient intervention in long-term care facilities and prisons

medRxiv

This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed. Background Draconic control measures were introduced to contain the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of which have been controversial, particularly the comprehensive use of diagnostic tests. Regular testing of high-risk individuals (pre-existing conditions, older than 60 years of age) has been suggested by public health authorities. The WHO suggested the use of routine screening of residents, employees, and visitors of long-term care facilities (LTCF) to protect the resident risk group. Similar suggestions have been made by the WHO for other closed facilities including incarceration facilities (e.g., prisons or jails), where in parts of the US, accelerated release of approved inmates is taken as a measure to mitigate COVID-19. Methods and findings Here, the simulation model underlying the pandemic preparedness tool CovidSim 1.1 (http://covidsim.eu/) is extended to investigate the effect of regularly testing of employees in order to protect immobile resident risk groups in closed facilities. The reduction in the number of infections and deaths within the risk group are investigated as well as the potential economic gain resulting from savings in COVID-19 related treatment costs in comparison to costs resulting from the testing interventions. Our simulations are adjusted to reflect the situation of LTCFs in the Federal Republic of Germany. The probability is nearly one that COVID-19 spreads into closed facilities due to contact with infected employees even under strict confinement of visitors in a pandemic scenario without targeted protective measures. Regular screening of all employees by PCR tests provides a significant reduction of COVID-19 cases and related deaths in LTCFs. While the frequency of testing (testing rate) and the quality of tests have noticeable effects, the waiting time for obtaining test results (ranging from 12 up to 96 hours) hardly impacts the outcome. The results suggest that testing every two weeks with low-quality tests and a processing time of up to 96 hours yields a strong reduction in the number of cases. Rough estimates suggest a significant economic gain. Conclusions The introduction of COVID-19 in closed facilities is unavoidable without thorough screening of persons that can introduce the disease into the facility. These measures provide an economically meaningful way to protect vulnerable risk groups characterized by an elevated risk of severe infections in closed facilities, in which contact-reducing measures are difficult to implement due to imminent unavoidable close human-to-human contacts.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and outbreaks in long term care facilities in England: a national survey

medRxiv

This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed. This study aimed to identify risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection and outbreaks in Long Term Care Facilities (LTCFs). It was a cross-sectional survey of all LTCFs providing dementia care or care to adults >65 years in England with linkage to SARS-CoV-2 test results. Findings: 5126/9081 (56%) LTCFs participated in the survey, with 160,033 residents and 248,594 staff. The weighted period prevalence of infection in residents and staff respectively was 10.5% (95% CI: 9.9-11.1%) and 3.8% (95%: 3.4-4.2%) and 2724 LTCFs (53.1%) had ≥1 infection. Odds of infection and/or outbreaks were reduced in LTCFs that paid sickness pay, cohorted staff, did not employ agency staff and had higher staff to resident ratios. Higher odds of infection and outbreaks were identified in facilities with more admissions, lower cleaning frequency, poor compliance with isolation and “for profit” status. Interpretation: Half of LTCFs had no cases suggesting they remain vulnerable to outbreaks. Reducing transmission from staff requires adequate sick pay, minimal use of temporary staff, improved staffing ratios and staff cohorting. Transmission from residents is associated with the number of admissions to the facility and poor compliance with isolation.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Contact tracing: an opportunity for social work to lead

Citation: Ross A. M. et al. (2020). Contact Tracing: An Opportunity for Social Work to Lead. Social work in public health, 35(7), 533-545. Since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first emerged in December 2019, there have been unprecedented efforts worldwide to contain and mitigate the rapid spread of the virus through evidence-based public health measures. As a component of pandemic response in the United States, efforts to develop, launch, and scale-up contact tracing initiatives are rapidly expanding, yet the presence of social work is noticeably absent. This paper identifies the specialized skill set necessary for high quality contact tracing in the COVID-19 era and explore its alignment with social work competencies and skills. Described are current examples of contact tracing efforts, and an argument for greater social work leadership, based on the profession’s ethics, competencies and person-in-environment orientation is offered. In light of the dire need for widespread high-quality contact tracing, social work is well-positioned to participate in interprofessional efforts to design, oversee and manage highly effective front-line contact tracing efforts.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

How the COVID-19 pandemic is focusing attention on loneliness and social isolation

Public Health Research and Practice

The effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic upon human health, economic activity and social engagement have been swift and far reaching. Emerging evidence shows that the pandemic has had dramatic mental health impacts, bringing about increased anxiety and greater social isolation due to the physical distancing policies introduced to control the disease. In this context, it is possible to more deeply appreciate the health consequences of loneliness and social isolation, which researchers have argued are enduring experiences for many people and under-recognised contributors to public health. This paper examines the social and psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on what this has revealed about the need to better understand and respond to social isolation and loneliness as public health priorities. Social isolation and loneliness are understood to be distinct conditions, yet each has been found to predict premature mortality, depression, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Estimates of the prevalence and distribution of social isolation and loneliness vary, possibly ranging from one-in-six to one-in-four people, and the lack of knowledge about the extent of these conditions indicates the need for population monitoring using standardised methods and validated measures. Reviews of the evidence relating to social isolation and loneliness interventions have found that befriending schemes, individual and group therapies, various shared activity programs, social prescription by healthcare providers, and diverse strategies using information and communication technologies have been tried. There remains uncertainty about what is effective for different population groups, particularly for prevention and for addressing the more complex condition of loneliness. In Australia, a national coalition – Ending Loneliness Together – has been established to bring together researchers and service providers to facilitate evidence gathering and the mobilisation of knowledge into practice. Research–practice partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaborations of this sort are essential for overcoming the public health problems of loneliness and social isolation that have pre-existed and will endure beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020