COVID-19 resources

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Keeping connected and staying well: the role of technology in supporting people with learning disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic

The Open University

Findings of a study exploring the type of support people with learning disabilities have received to enable them to use technology to keep connected and stay well during the pandemic. We received 106 survey responses and interviewed 44 supporters and 20 people with learning disabilities. Our analysis of the results revealed 8 main findings. Finding 1: Supporters are blending technological means of support with nontechnological means. Finding 2: As part of a blended approach to support, supporters are using a wide range of technologies. The exact ‘mix’ of technologies is influenced by a range of factors. Finding 3: The main reasons supporters gave for using technology with people with learning disabilities during the pandemic were to contribute to good mental health and/or well-being; to help combat loneliness and a sense of isolation; to help overcome boredom through lack of activity and to provide information about the coronavirus and staying safe. Finding 4: The practices that remote supporters engage in when using technologies to support people with learning disabilities can be characterised as speedy, evolving, creative and fearless. Finding 5: One of the most significant factors that enables people with learning disabilities to use and benefit from technologies during lockdown is support from someone living with them. Finding 6: The most significant barriers to enabling people with learning disabilities to use and benefit from technologies during lockdown are the digital divide and lack of in-home support finding 7: Using technology to support people with learning disabilities during lockdown has had a positive impact on their mental health, wellbeing, sense of belonging and connectedness. Finding 8: Using technologies to support people with learning disabilities during lockdown has highlighted the technological capabilities of people with learning disabilities and the potential of new support practices.

Last updated on hub: 03 February 2021

Exploring feedback around membership of the Virtual School Head Teacher and Care Experienced Team Network: discussion findings from a facilitated workshop

Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection

Findings from a workshop with the Virtual School Head Teacher (VSHT) and Care Experienced Team (CET) network to explore the extent to which the VSHT/CET network have an impact on supporting VSHTs and CETs in their role during lockdown; and what, if any, impact being part of the network had for the children and young people. Network members have found being part of the network very valuable, particularly during lockdown. There is a strong sense of peer support being available, and offered, by the network alongside a collegiate approach to problem solving and information sharing. This open, sharing approach will have ensured that valuable time is saved on tasks such as producing documents from scratch, gathering information on different approaches and finding evidence of what works. By using this approach, Network members will have been able to free up other time to focus on other priority tasks which impact on children and families. There is also a strong sense that having national bodies as equal participants in the network contributes to a robust feedback loop between policy and practice. There is a strong theme around the robust and trusting relationships which have been built as the network has developed and this is only possible due to the individual contributions from each member which, collectively, allow the principles and values which underpin the work to be experienced by members, and by the children and families with whom they work.

Last updated on hub: 03 February 2021

Exploring the unique role of the Virtual School Head Teacher or Care Experienced Team in relation to supporting children and families during COVID-19: discussion findings from a facilitated workshop

Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection

Findings from a workshop with the Virtual School Head Teacher (VSHT) and Care Experienced Team (CET) network to explore the unique role of VSHTs and CETs within local authorities in relation to supporting care experienced children and young people during lockdown. The meeting had representation from eight local authority areas, and in addition to this, two further areas submitted feedback and reflections on the theme prior to the meeting. Representatives from the Scottish Government Learning Directorate were also in attendance. The role of the VSHT and CET during lockdown has been varied and diverse. The themes discussed in this paper demonstrate the ability of those fulfilling this role to be responsive, proactive and adaptive in both the planning and provision of support to care experienced children, young people and their families during the pandemic. There are strong messages from members about the value of having a key person who is able to have a specific focus, and expert knowledge, around the needs and rights of this group of children and young people. This has ensured that direct support is available to children, young people and families in a way that works for them, when they need it. Those fulfilling this role have also been able to strengthen multi-agency links with both statutory and voluntary agencies and services; advocating for children and young people’s rights, providing leadership to multi-disciplinary teams and sourcing and providing practical support and expertise to staff members. There are several examples of where this focus by VSHTs and CETs has ensured that relationships, and learning, have been maintained during lockdown.

Last updated on hub: 03 February 2021

Overview of feedback from the social care sector: CIW check-in calls with providers of registered services for adults and children

Care Inspectorate Wales

This document provides an overview of the CIW ‘check-in’ calls from 30 March until 26 July where inspectors had 10,045 conversations with registered social care services in Wales about how they were managing the impact of COVID-19. The main themes drawn from responses are: the importance of a rights-based approach, ensuring people receiving social care, and their families or advocates, are involved in decision making; recognising, and minimising as far as possible, the impact not being able to see family and friends has on the mental well-being of many people; the importance of having a co-ordinated communication strategy that minimises duplication and clearly highlights key issues and changes to guidance; ongoing access to infection prevention and control training and support; ensuring easy access to sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), with clarity about its use; ensuring easy access to testing with a timely turnaround of results; the importance of support networks for managers and care workers recognising the isolation of the many small providers in Wales; the importance of continuity of staffing because of increased risk of agency staff transmitting the virus if they are working across different services; and recognising that providers are partners in care especially in relation to hospital discharge, as are family members, for many people.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

Covid-19 Insight: issue 7

Care Quality Commission

This report shares data on the designated settings scheme for adult social care, and looks into more detail on data on deaths from COVID-19. The data shows that between 1 December 2020 and 12 January 2021, the number of acute hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased by around 138% nationally. The average COVID-19 occupancy rate was 27% in the seven days to 12 January, compared with 22% in the previous seven days. Two trusts currently have rates above 50%; more than half of their beds are occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19. The changes have varied considerably across regions. Whereas, for example, the North East and Yorkshire saw a relatively small increase from 1 December 2020 to 12 January 2021, the South East, East of England and London have all seen very large increases. The number of acute beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in London more than quadrupled in the space of six weeks. The report also examines whether there were any differences in the propensity for deaths to be flagged for COVID-19 between people with a learning disability or autism and those without. It finds that: people with a learning disability were slightly more likely to have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 than others in care homes whose death was notified; the data showed no discernible differences based on sufficiently large numbers between the deaths of people from Black and minority ethnic groups, with and without a learning disability or autism, and White people with or without a learning disability or autism; people from Black and minority ethnic groups who died were slightly younger in age than White people who died, reflecting demographic trends in the wider population.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

What helped the UK cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns? Different coping strategies and their effect on wellbeing

What Works Centre for Wellbeing

This briefing explores how people in the UK have used different approaches to help them cope with the stress and changes associated with Covid-19 and the restrictions of the lockdowns. Focusing on volunteering, what we eat, what we drink, arts and crafts, and gambling, the paper also examines the implications for a wellbeing-based Covid-19 recovery. Key messages include: staying connected to friends and family was the most important coping mechanisms identified by people during the UK’s first lockdown; gardening and exercise had the biggest association with supporting people’s wellbeing, while following Coivd-19 related news had the most negative effects on our wellbeing; different people have different coping strategies – some of us prefer to problem solve, while some of us try to avoid our difficulties while others rely on emotional reframing or the social support of their friends and family; it is important to recognise which strategies are more helpful for our mental health and long-term wellbeing; research has clearly shown that physical activity such as exercising or gardening has improved mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic; some people have also used arts and cultural engagement as a way to cope. There may be long-term impacts on our wellbeing from negative changes to eating, drinking alcohol and gambling behaviours. This is especially the case for those who were already at-risk from these issues. A wellbeing-based recovery will depend on helping people access and choose healthier styles of coping.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

COVID-19, inequality and older people: developing community-centred interventions

University of Manchester

The aim of this paper is to examine how community ‘identities and interests’ can be mobilised in response to COVID-19. The argument developed is divided into three main parts: first, an overview of the economic and social context influencing the impact of COVID-19 – with a particular focus on pressures affecting low-income neighbourhoods; second, a review of sociological research examining changes to community life; third, a set of proposals for building a strategy for community engagement and mobilisation around limiting the impact of COVID-19. The paper highlights the pressures on communities weakened by austerity, growing inequalities, and cuts to social infrastructure. It examines how physical distancing measures to combat COVID-19 have been matched by trends indicating greater social distancing within communities, illustrated by reduced contact between neighbours, and pressures on the social networks of groups such as single men. Despite this, there have been significant activities in many localities, the growth of mutual aid being one such example. However, the paper argues against seeing community involvement exclusively in terms of encouraging volunteer, grassroots activity. Instead, such work should also be linked to collaborations which can influence policies and action at national, regional, and local authority levels. To date, the evidence suggests that neighbourhoods and the different groups within them, have been at the receiving end of measures to combat COVID-19, rather than being treated as equal partners. The paper highlights four of what it describes as ‘community-centred approaches’: promoting community participation; recruiting advocates for those who are isolated and/or socially excluded; creating a national initiative for supporting community-centred activity; and developing policies for the long-term. The paper concludes with some questions which society and communities will need to address given the likely continuation nature of measures to promote physical distancing.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

Compassionate communities for extraordinary circumstances: using diaries to capture bereavement support during the Covid-19 pandemic

This project aimed to better understand the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on ExtraCare residents and Cruse bereavement support services in relation to death, grief and the way a community supports bereaved people at a time when our experience of grief may be different and our normal rituals are affected or unavailable. Between May and September 2020 (during and after the first period of ‘lockdown’), eight bereavement support volunteers kept diaries. The diarists were either Cruse Bereavement Volunteers (BVs) offering bereavement support to clients across the UK or volunteer Bereavement Supporters (RBSs) offering peer support to fellow residents within their ExtraCare retirement village communities in England. Presented in this booklet are the themes identified across the lockdown diaries, followed by key learning and recommendations to better support people through loss and bereavement during a pandemic; an extraordinary context that has heightened social isolation for many. The themes are: compassionate listening and peer-support were vital during ‘lockdown’; a shared community feeling of grief arising from many losses, that were not bereavement related; acknowledging and communicating a death in residential communities remains challenging, especially during ‘lockdown’; grief and bereavement during ‘lockdown’ and a pandemic – a complex and very mixed experience; bereaved people and Cruse Bereavement Volunteers have adjusted to telephone-based support and learnt new ways of working to support the community.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

Factors associated with COVID-19 in care homes and domiciliary care, and effectiveness of interventions: a rapid review

Public Health England

The purpose of this rapid review was to identify and assess direct evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic on factors associated with COVID-19 in care homes and domiciliary care, and interventions to minimise the extent of COVID-19. 22 studies were identified, 13 (4 preprints) examining factors associated with the transmission of COVID-19 in care homes and 9 (3 preprints) examining the effectiveness of interventions (search up to 31 August 2020). No studies reported on domiciliary care. The review shows that multiple observational studies have consistently reported the use of temporary staffing and the movement of staff between different care homes, lack of sick pay provision for care home staff, ‘for profit’ ownership (US-based studies), lower quality ratings, and lower levels of trained nurses (amongst other factors) as being associated with increased levels of COVID-19. There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of interventions, and available evidence is weak. Routine testing with early intervention (1 study) and voluntary staff confinement (1 study) were associated with lower COVID-19 and descriptive studies reported the use of multiple consecutive strategies. Further research is needed, and studies that better infer causality.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

The digital divide: the impact on the rights of care leavers in Scotland

Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection

This report shares the findings of a focused piece of research to understand care leavers’ experiences of digital exclusion before and during the COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland in 2020. The report begins with a brief discussion of the context and methodology, before reporting on the findings and discussing the implications of these. The study used mixed methods and included two forms of data collection – an online survey and an online focus group. Twenty four care leavers filled in the substantial part of the survey which address experiences of digital use and access during COVID-19. The views and experiences of care experienced young people show the necessity of Scottish society recognising access to technology and digital spaces as a fundamental right; without which mental health is compromised, educational and employment opportunities are blocked, and access to vital support and basic essentials remain out of reach. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and highlighted many of the structural disadvantages and inequalities which care leavers and care experienced young adults already face. Views shared in this research clearly show that poverty and financial insecurity is a barrier to accessing the necessary devices, software, Wi-Fi, repairs or technological support that are necessary to get online and stay connected. Access to technology was frequently cited as being facilitated via formal and informal social networks and organisational links, including flatmates and friends, voluntary organisations, educational establishments and employers, and at times dependent or beholden to those relationships. In order to be ‘good enough’ corporate parents, Scottish local authorities must recognise their responsibilities and support children and young people in the digital present and prepare them for the digital future.

Last updated on hub: 02 February 2021

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