COVID-19 resources

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The future of commissioning for social care

Social Care Institute for Excellence

SCIE's latest commissioning guide that focuses on the immediate future of commissioning in light of COVID-19.

Last updated on hub: 26 August 2020

How Covid-19 has magnified some of social care’s key problems

King's Fund

Examines eight key problems facing social care and the extent to which Covid-19 has exacerbated these challenges. These include: means testing – social care is not free at point of use like the NHS; catastrophic costs – some people end up paying large amounts and even selling their homes to pay for care; unmet need – many people go without the care and support they need; quality of care – a wide spectrum of concerns, from 15-minute care visits to neglect and lack of choice and control; workforce pay and conditions – staff are underpaid, leading to high vacancy rates and turnover; market fragility – care providers go out of business or hand back contracts; disjointed care – health and care is not integrated around the individual and causes issues such as delayed transfers of care from hospital; the ‘postcode lottery’ – there is unwarranted variation between places in access to care and its quality. This piece discusses how the emphasis on them has shifted as a result of the pandemic – while the first two issues have barely been mentioned during the past few months, in the remaining six areas, Covid-19 has brought significant change and, if anything, exacerbated these challenges.

Last updated on hub: 26 August 2020

What enables or hinders people in the community to make or update advance care plans in the context of Covid-19, and how can those working in health and social care best support this process?

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine

An evidence review of the enablers and barriers to advance care planning (ACP) in the context of Covid-19 and best support approaches. The review identified 21 research studies and 10 systematic reviews that met the inclusion criteria and were classed as highly relevant. In addition, it identified 12 guidelines related to ACP in the UK during COVID-19. The analysis shows that in the context of COVID-19 some known barriers to ACP in community settings have worsened, while others have improved. COVID-19 has raised public awareness of ACP, increased the importance of and attention to IT systems, motivated the development of new guidelines and templates, and rapidly shifted ‘business as usual’ processes and protocols. This presents opportunities to improve ACP in the community. However, existing guidelines and resources are to a major extent clinician-focused; there are few video- and web-based ACP resources for the public and those that exist are scattered and piecemeal. This is a concern given good quality evidence that online and video ACP interventions are beneficial, particularly among people with limited English proficiency, poor health literacy and/or from otherwise disadvantaged communities. In the context of COVID-19, and to reduce inequalities in access to ACP, the report recommends national investment in evidence-based, public-facing resources and integrated systems to support ACP, building on existing resources. Alongside this investment, simultaneous, interconnected strategies are needed, underpinned by healthcare policy, including training for those working in health and social care, better coordination of electronic medical record systems, and public education and awareness raising.

Last updated on hub: 25 August 2020

COVID-19 and English council funding: how are budgets being hit in 2020–21?

Institute for Fiscal Studies

This report examines the scale and nature of forecast impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on local authorities spending and income. It explores how impacts may vary across council types, regions and council characteristics; compares the impacts with the financial resources provided to councils by central government and with the resources available to them in the form of reserves; and considers the implications for future funding policy. Councils forecast spending pressures of £4.4 billion and non-tax income pressures of £2.8 billion in 2020–21. Taken together, this equates to a financial hit equal to 13.0% of pre-crisis expenditure. Adult social care accounts for £1.8 billion of the spending pressures, with unspecified unachieved efficiency savings accounting for the next-biggest chunk, at £0.6 billion. Taken together, councils’ forecasts for spending and non-tax income and the baseline scenario for funding imply a funding shortfall of approximately £2 billion this year, although uncertainty about pressures and funding availability means there is scope for the gap to be much bigger or smaller. The report argues that several options are available to the Government. The simplest approach would be to increase the general grant funding it gives councils but targeted support to those councils facing the greatest problems would be more affordable. One option would be to follow the example of Wales, where councils submit claims based on the additional costs they have incurred, subject to some vetting. Temporary powers to borrow to cover day-to-day spending could also be considered, and have been identified by the OECD as a sensible way to give local areas more flexibility and autonomy to respond to the crisis as they see fit.

Last updated on hub: 24 August 2020

Experiences of child and adolescent to parent violence in the Covid-19 pandemic

University of Oxford

This report draws upon the findings of online surveys of 104 parents who have experiences C/APV from their child aged 10-19 years and 47 practitioners who work with families experiencing C/APV. It also draws data provided by all 43 police forces across England and Wales on total numbers of reported C/APV incidents over the one-year period from 1st April 2019 to 31st May 2020. The analysis reveals that 70% of parents reported an increase in violent episodes during lockdown; 69% of practitioners said they had seen an increase in referrals for families experiencing C/APV; 64% of practitioners identified that the severity or incidence of violence had increased; 29% of parents identified a decline in C/APV during the lockdown period which was explained by a reduction in the stresses and triggers for violence in this period. Respondents identified some lockdown-specific reasons for the increase in C/APV, which include spatial confinement and coerced proximity, changes in structure and routine, fear and anxiety and lack of access to formal and informal support. The report makes ten recommendations to services, local authorities, and government in planning a response to C/APV, including ensuring robust safeguarding measures for young people and families experiencing C/APV; planning for a rise in demand for support as lockdown lifts and schools and workplaces reopen; avoiding over-criminalisation of young people using violence; and providing safe spaces for families at crisis point and respite care for young people.

Last updated on hub: 24 August 2020

Homelessness monitor England 2020: COVID-19 crisis response briefing

Crisis

This briefing reflects on the early lessons from the Covid-19 crisis response to some of the most extreme forms of homelessness and looks ahead to the exit strategy. With government financial support and guidance, local authorities have sought to get ‘Everyone In’ as rough sleeping in England has been reframed as an urgent public health issue, and emergency measures have sought to prevent other forms of homelessness as well. Key findings include: levels of infection seem very low amongst homeless people accommodated under the Everyone In initiative, indicating a relatively successful public health strategy with regards to this vulnerable population; the speed and clarity of the early central Government response was widely welcomed, with local authorities and homelessness charities also praised for rapidly rising to an unprecedented challenge; however, subsequent ‘mixed messages’ from central Government on the medium to longer-term response became a matter of acute concern amongst local authorities and their third sector partners. The report argues that a decisive shift away from communal forms of sleeping provision would be a positive outcome, as well as more broadly a direction of travel that encompassed less emphasis on hostels with shared facilities. It notes that the (understandable) emphasis given to immediate crisis response during the pandemic has squeezed out prevention activity at many levels, and that a ‘spike’ in family homelessness in particular is expected as the evictions ban and furlough schemes come to an end.

Last updated on hub: 24 August 2020

Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: June 2020

The Office for National Statistics

This article looks at depressive symptoms in adults in Great Britain before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020) and during the pandemic (June 2020). It looks at the same group of adults over a 12-month period, providing a unique perspective of how depression has changed over time. The analysis shows that almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 before the pandemic. Adults who were aged 16 to 39 years old, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense, or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic. Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their wellbeing was being affected, with 84.9% stating this. Over two in five adults experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic said their relationships were being affected, compared with one in five adults with no or mild depressive symptoms.

Last updated on hub: 24 August 2020

Opening schools safely in the COVID-19 era: school social workers’ experiences and recommendations: a research brief for policymakers

University of California

This policy brief presents data from a national survey of school social workers (SSWs) exploring the impacts of COVID-19 school disruptions in the United States. It highlights the need to address hunger, housing instability, health, mental health and other challenges that a high proportion of students are experiencing, especially low-income students. From a capacity perspective, SSWs in the study report that sizable proportions of students are suffering from difficulties due to discrimination, family discord, child abuse, language difficulties, and community violence; SSWs are called to perform the same Herculean tasks that face other educators and school staff in this pandemic but there are concerns that this work is being done with few resources, outside supports, or governmental guidance; greater supports, like the personal protective equipment (PPE) given to health care professions, are needed for educational staff and social workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic. The paper argues that given SSWs’ ecological view and historical commitment to under-served communities, their voices should be heard in planning school reopening. Based on the findings from the survey, the brief recommends the following actions: create a rapid-response team of school professionals from multiple fields to develop a systemic, national response to support schools; prioritise the response to the most hard-hit schools and communities; develop three evidence-driven national plans, one for in-person instruction, one for online, and one for a hybrid; provide additional supports and resources, including more trained social workers sent to the most stressed schools and communities.

Last updated on hub: 20 August 2020

NRPF: statement and guidance

British Association of Social Workers

This note sets out BASW’s position on No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), the relevant legal and policy context and provides some guidance for social work practice. NRPF is one aspect of a range of immigration law, policy and practice in the UK. Those with NRPF cannot claim income-based benefits which includes (but is not limited to) child benefit, housing benefit, universal credit, income support, free school meals, disability living allowance or tax credits. BASW’s position is that the legislation, policies and practices of NRPF have a profoundly negative impact on the most vulnerable in society and when applied to those who are destitute, or who are faced with destitution, result in breaches of human rights law. The statement calls for a suspension of the NRPF condition so that all vulnerable individuals are entitled to receive financial support during the Covid-19 outbreak; and for a comprehensive independent review of the model of NRPF in relation to those who are destitute, or who face destitution, with a view to the Government replacing the model with a system that is both adequately funded and resourced and is compliant with the UK’s commitments to human rights.

Last updated on hub: 20 August 2020

Opening schools safely in the COVID-19 era: school social workers’ experiences and recommendations: technical report

University of California

This report summarises initial findings from a national survey of school social workers’ (SSWs) (n=1,275) practising across the United States. Findings highlight serious challenges facing schools, school staff, and students. Some of these challenges are specifically related to educational goals, but many are related to basic needs that are a prerequisite to academic and social emotional learning. Many SSWs reported having limited to no contact with some of their students because they couldn’t establish a connection with them during the shutdown; they expressed significant concerns about the motivation and engagement of the 81% of students with whom they did work; and reported that a majority of their students and families had profound, immediate, and urgent needs related to food insufficiency (62.4%), housing instability (42.8), health issues (61.6%), individualised student tutoring (62.3%), and mental health services (75.7%). While findings speak to the dynamism and creativity of SSWs in this pandemic, findings also revealed many troubling and serious issues that need immediate attention as schools plan how to re-open in the fall. Implications for professional development, district supports, university training, and a national effort to reconnect a potential “lost generation of students” are discussed and outlined. The report makes a series of recommendations, including a call to action for the various school social work organisations to join together to help SSWs and their school communities respond effectively as the pandemic continues to impact on the academic and social experience of children.

Last updated on hub: 20 August 2020