COVID-19 resources

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Personalisation and pandemic: an unforeseen collision course?

Disability and Society

The outbreak of a pandemic provokes fear and risk of ill health for all individuals, however, these events pose even more of a threat to people with disability who often have poorer health outcomes because of underlying conditions, have difficulties in accessing health and other services, and typically fare worse once they are in the healthcare system. The growth of personalisation schemes in disability internationally is now exacerbating those risks and could lead to high morbidity and mortality if swift action is not taken.

Last updated on hub: 14 August 2020

COVID-19 social distancing: a snippet view of the autistic social world

Disability and Society

This paper uses the National Health Service guidelines on hand hygiene and social distancing measures (which the UK government introduced in March, 2020, to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus) to give readers an insight into the restricted social life of an autistic person, using auto/biography to explore my personal experience of social isolation and being a 'vulnerable adult'. The author is an Autistic, newly qualified sociologist and will be using my positionality as a vantage point, as the public adjust to my 'normal'. The author acknowledges the element of 'choice' in autistic individuals' self-isolation but focus here on the social restrictions imposed on us from outside (social isolation). The author calls for social change, once the social distancing measures are lifted. These changes might occur at the individual level (e.g. being a friend) but will still broaden our social world.

Last updated on hub: 14 August 2020

Future-proof the roof: the case for sustainable investment to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping post-COVID-19

The Salvation Army

This report considers how greater and more sustained investment can improve the outcomes of England’s homelessness and rough sleeping system. This investment has become even more imperative given the economic shock caused by COVID-19 and to maintain the progress made in response to the pandemic. The report outlines a framework for how policymakers should think about investment in the homelessness and rough sleeping system and the service, human and economic costs of homelessness. It presents new analysis of England’s homeless and rough sleeping population and sets out a policy blueprint to help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in both the short and long term. The report acknowledges that each local area will have different priorities in relation to the types of investment that they need to make to improve outcomes while also identifying types of investment that are needed across the entire homelessness and rough sleeping system. These include introducing measures to increase and sustain housing and accommodation options for homeless households and rough sleepers – through the Next Steps Accommodation Programme, incentivising councils to bring empty homes back into use, making use of new construction techniques to increase housing options, and giving councils first refusal to buy local properties that have been repossessed; addressing the restrictions for those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF); and giving certainty to the funding of employment programmes that help those with experience of homelessness and rough sleeping.

Last updated on hub: 13 August 2020

Mental health services and COVID-19: preparing for the rising tide

NHS Confederation

Examines the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and the long-term implications for mental health services. While during the peak of the crisis there was a 30-40 per cent reduction in mental health referrals, since the lift in lockdown restrictions providers anecdotally report that referrals are rising to above pre-COVID-19 levels. The report argues that in the next phase three drivers of additional demand will be at play: (1) demand from people who would have been referred to services had the pandemic not struck; (2) people requiring more support due to a deterioration of their mental health during the pandemic; and (3) new demand driven by people needing support due to the wider impacts of the pandemic, such as self-isolation and increases in substance abuse and domestic violence. The report indicates that there is a need to better understand expected demand and its impact in different areas and on different groups, including black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, and that funding levels should be adjusted to meet increased levels of demand. In addition, meeting the expected increase in demand for mental health services will require partnership working from across the health and care system, and beyond; supporting staff wellbeing; sustaining innovation, including financially supporting the increased use of digital approaches; and adopting a mental health in all policies approach, reflecting the fact that many of the determinants of mental health are outside of the NHS’s direct control.

Last updated on hub: 13 August 2020

Hear us: the experiences of refugee and asylum-seeking women during the pandemic

Sisters Not Strangers

Findings of a survey of over 100 asylum-seeking women from England and Wales to hear how they are surviving during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was completed by women seeking and refused asylum, as well as those with leave to remain. The responses were supplemented by a survey of 24 staff and volunteers who have been supporting asylum-seeking women since the outbreak. The report reveals that three quarters of the women surveyed went hungry, including mothers who struggled to feed their children. A third of women were at high risk from coronavirus, reporting a serious health condition such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes; yet, self-isolation was impossible for the 21% of women who were forced to sleep in the same room as a non-family member. Frequent handwashing was a serious challenge for the 32% of women who struggled to afford soap and other hygiene products. Barriers to accessing NHS mental healthcare and a lack of IT equipment increased isolation, with a quarter of women saying that their mental health was “much worse than before”. The report argues that the pandemic is exposing deep structural inequalities along existing fault-lines of gender, race, citizenship and class, and calls for a grant of leave to remain to be given to all those with insecure immigration status, to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum, to protect public health, and to enable British society to rebuild more equally.

Last updated on hub: 13 August 2020

The First Wave: perspectives and learning from the COVID-19 pandemic

PPL

These essays offer a range of personal perspectives of those who have worked through the Covid-19 crisis, including in support of key health and care services and the local communities. The Covid-19 outbreak led to a full-scale mobilisation of resources across health, local government, the voluntary sector and local communities in response. These reflections focus on the lessons from the pandemic; the role of people power, including the voluntary sector; and how to build back better, supporting the recovery phase and transforming services. The essays cover an array of topics, including: international lessons, the importance of public engagement, digital transformation, volunteering in the pandemic and the value of kindness in the workplace, supporting system recovery and positive changes, and improving health and care outcomes through greater collaboration.

Last updated on hub: 13 August 2020

Ethical framework for adult social care in COVID-19: extended essay

University of Oxford

Essay published by the Journal of Medical Ethics, authored by Charlotte Bryony Elves and Jonathan Herring, University of Oxford. In March 2020, the Government produced a document entitled “Responding to COVID-19: The Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care” (‘The Ethical Framework’). This article, summarises the key features of the proposed ethical framework and subject it to critical analysis. This article highlights three primary issues. First, the emphasis placed on autonomy as the primary ethical principle. The authors argue if ever there was a context in which autonomy should dominate the ethical analysis, this is not it. Second, the authors examine the interface between ethics and law which is largely overlooked in the document. Finally, the authors explore the surprising lack of attention paid to the concept of responsibility and communal obligations within the framework.

Last updated on hub: 12 August 2020

Data-informed recommendations for services providers working with vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures have led to unprecedented challenges for service providers working with vulnerable children and families around the world. Objective: The goal of the present study was to better understand the impact of the pandemic and associated response measures on vulnerable children and families and provide data-informed recommendations for public and private service providers working with this population. Participants and Setting: Representatives from 87 non-government organizations (NGOs) providing a variety of direct services (i.e. residential care, family preservation, foster care, etc.) to 454,637 vulnerable children and families in 43 countries completed a brief online survey. Methods: Using a mixed methods design, results examined 1) ways in which children and families have been directly impacted by COVID-19, 2) the impact of the pandemic on services provided by NGOs, 3) government responses and gaps in services for this population during the pandemic, and 4) strategies that have been effective in filling these gaps. Results: Data revealed that the pandemic and restrictive measures were associated with increased risk factors for vulnerable children and families, including not having access to vital services. The NGOs experienced government restrictions, decreased financial support, and inability to adequately provide services. Increased communication and supportive activities had a positive impact on both NGO staff and the families they serve. Conclusions: Based on the findings, ten recommendations were made for service providers working with vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 12 August 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: sexual abuse

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from Childline counselling sessions and NSPCC helpline contacts to highlight the impact of child sexual abuse within the family during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes abuse by an adult parent, carer or relative; the partner of a family member; a sibling; or a cousin. The briefing highlights that the restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the risk for some children who were experiencing sexual abuse within their family home. Lockdown provided some perpetrators with more opportunities to sexually abuse children in their family. Being in lockdown also made it harder for children to speak out to trusted adults, ask for help and get the support they needed; conversely, in some cases, the stay-at-home rules increased the urgency for adults to contact the NSPCC helpline and report their concerns. The analysis also finds that spending more time alone and without the usual distractions meant that distressing memories of past abuse began to surface for some young people. The briefing calls on governments to deal with the “hidden harms” of the pandemic and ensure support for children who have experienced sexual abuse is embedded in recovery planning. In England this must include the publication and implementation of a comprehensive, cross-government strategy for tackling child sexual abuse.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Putting children first in future lockdowns

Children’s Commissioner for England

Sets out the key actions needed to ensure children are at the heart of planning for any future coronavirus lockdowns. The briefing focuses on a range of aspects and settings, including education, early years, mental health, play and activity, online harms, housing, children’s social care, and secure settings. It sets out ten principles that should guide any policy and action, arguing that children’s perspectives must be better reflected in scientific and public health advice; education should be prioritised over other sectors; full lockdowns must balance the epidemiological benefit to children against the social and health costs to children of closures to schools, leisure/youth centres and other facilities; any rights extended to adults must also be given to children in ways that work for them (e.g., right to exercise outdoor); communication about the lockdown must make clear that risk of infection should not prevent children and families seeking help they need, such as urgent healthcare which is not related to the virus or refuge from domestic abuse. The briefing also argues that more specific guidance is needed for children’s homes and further guidance should be issued to local authorities to prioritise the safeguarding of vulnerable children during any future lockdown, including those who do not currently have a social worker. Local authorities should also be working with local partners to proactively identify children who become vulnerable during the lockdown, including in families where domestic abuse may have arisen or increased or where parental substance misuse or mental health problems have escalated.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

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