COVID-19 resources

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How has Covid-19 and the associated lockdown measures affected mental health and wellbeing in the UK?

What Works Centre for Wellbeing

This briefing provides insights into how mental health conditions have changed as a result of Covid-19 and what the risk factors are that need to be recognised when supporting people’s mental health. It draws on data of more than 70,000 people as part of the COVID-19 Social Study, which is run by University College London. Key messages include: anxiety and depression increased in the UK as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, with people’s mental health affected by both adverse experiences regarding their health, jobs and finances as well as worries about what might happen in the future – anxiety and depression have fallen since the highs seen at the start of lockdown but remain above pre-pandemic levels; anxiety and depression have been highest among young adults, those living alone, those living in urban areas, and people with lower household income, with children, and with a diagnosed mental illness; outdoor exercise and gardening can improve our mental health, while spending too much time following the news can be harmful.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020

A national Covid-19 resilience programme: improving the health and wellbeing of older people during the pandemic

This report makes the case for a National Covid-19 Resilience Programme to support older people in preparing themselves for the continuation of the pandemic and to keep them healthy over the winter. With the pandemic showing no sign of abating, it is important to ensure that older people are able to feel more control over their lives, and that they receive clearer guidance about how best to protect themselves physiologically. Covid-19 disease severity rises with age and is also associated with comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes and coronary vascular disease, that can accompany chronological age. Home confinement in older people may cause (i) cardiorespiratory and metabolic deconditioning, (ii) insulin resistance, (iii) muscle loss and (iv) increased fat mass. In addition, social isolation may be worsened. In the absence of vaccines and treatments, physical activity (with tailored exercise or physical activity goals) represents the single most impactful way in which older people can reduce the risk of developing severe Covid-19, improve recovery, and limit deconditioning and frailty from home confinement. The report argues that a resilience programme should: encourage appropriate exercise and physical activity; support optimal nutrition; enhance mental health and wellbeing; support behaviour change to embed these behaviours. This programme might be supported by a digital platform and by national broadcasters, e.g. regular televised activity classes.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020

Behind the headlines: time to bring our care workers in from the cold

Age UK

This report highlights the extent to which the Covid-19 crisis has thrown into sharp relief how poorly care workers are supported to do their work. Staff shortages, lack of protective equipment, and poor pay and conditions have left many exhausted mentally and physically, challenging their ability to continue to deliver high quality care. Despite being roughly equivalent in size to the NHS workforce, the 1.65 million strong care workforce has seen limited support put in place. While the NHS has been prioritised for PPE, testing, mental health support, priority access to shops and pay rises, offers to social care have been more limited and have generally only arrived very late in the day. The report calls on the Government to rebuild the care system with properly funded and thoroughgoing reform, to ensure care work become an attractive and properly paid career, its terms and conditions on a par with the same jobs carried out in the NHS.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020

Lockdown. Rundown. Breakdown. The COVID-19 lockdown and the impact of poor-quality housing on occupants in the North of England

Northern Housing Consortium

This report has been produced to document the experiences of households living in poor-quality, ‘non-decent’ accommodation in the UK – with a specific focus on households in the North of England – during the height of the UK lockdown. It draws on rapidly produced primary research undertaken between May and July 2020. It involved semi-structured interviews with 40 residents from privately rented housing, ten residents from owner-occupied housing and eight key actors/professionals. The study also used a short survey to capture the views and experiences of people who preferred not to be interviewed. The findings reveal that: households were living with longstanding repair and quality issues – lockdown had ultimately worsened such conditions and impaired people’s ability to live with those conditions; many longstanding repair and quality issues were described as worsening throughout lockdown because social distancing measures prohibited contractors from entering the home; renters were having to draw on their own incomes, savings and credit to cope with the costs associated with their poor conditions, which further entrenched people in the private rented sector; the vast majority of renters had not considered the possibility of asking landlords for rent reductions when questioned during interviews; private renters were under-reporting the repairs that were needed to their homes; overcrowding was an issue most households were experiencing, with entire households living, working and spending time in the same housing space; conversely, people who lived by themselves discussed feeling isolated and lonely in the weeks when contact with family and friends was restricted to online video call facilities. There is an opportunity to learn from the first few months of the COVID-19 lockdown and take urgent action for the short, medium and long term to ensure that the housing crisis, which has been so frequently identified, does not lead to systemic or personal breakdown.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020

Lockdown. Rundown. Breakdown. The COVID-19 lockdown and the impact of poor-quality housing on occupants in the North of England. Policy briefing

Northern Housing Consortium

This report looks at the impact living in poor-quality accommodation had on Northern households during the pandemic. The study highlights the following five main impacts: existing poor conditions are worsening, leading to longer-periods living in non-decent accommodation; renters are under-reporting repair issues and concerns out of fear of eviction and rent increases; there is likely to be a backlog of major repairs to deal with over the coming months; there is an increase in energy use, due to more people spending more time at home – these costs are causing increased anxiety to a wider range of households; households feel financially insecure and renters feel insecure in their tenancies. The report calls for urgent action this winter and longer-term policy responses to ensure that the condition of and access to existing homes is treated as a priority equal to the importance of the supply of new homes.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020

COVID-19: guidance for the support and wellbeing of adult social workers and social care professionals in a pandemic crisis

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

This guidance is aimed at all social care practitioners and their managers who are responsible for providing services to adults in the community during the pandemic. It draws on and acknowledges approaches to thinking about and working with organisational challenges informed by understanding the impact of emotions and the unconscious on individual and organisational responses to those challenges. It situates the current challenge for health and social care in the context of understanding the centrality of relationships in this work and the operation of individual and organisational defences drawing from psychoanalytic, systems and attachment theories. It therefore addresses some of the emotional, psychological and psycho-social factors bought about by the global pandemic. The impact of this is acknowledged and a range of recommendations for managers and staff are made.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2020

Canadian reflections on the Covid-19 pandemic in social work education: from tsunami to innovation

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

Looking back, the first wave of the pandemic was about to hit us and we could not know the impact then; the pedagogic, the emotional/human/relational, and the collaborative. Immediate modifications required pedagogy and pandemic balancing, prioritizing student safety. These reflections of three academics in leadership roles in the Faculty of Social Work faculty at a large university in western Canada, span from mid-March to early May, 2020 as COVID-19 approached. The reflections consider social work education comprehensively, as an integrated system. This article recounts the human and emotional nature of experience; approaches to interacting and collaborating with colleagues, partners, and stakeholders; ways of innovating on local, provincial, and national levels; and examples of how core social work values guided our work. The article suggests we embraced technology and found energy in innovation through collaboration about pedagogic decisions. It is here among innovation and collaboration, that we discovered our strengths and gained confidence to move forward. This manuscript provided an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which this crisis has forced openness to innovation toward the future of social work education. It also serves as a call to other schools and faculties of social work to share their reflections.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Testing partnership and preparedness in Northern Ireland during COVID-19

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

Northern Ireland has partnership arrangements for qualifying and post-qualifying social work education that joins the regulator, universities and employers in equipping social workers to practice safely to a high-quality standard. Covid-19 highlighted the need for social workers to manage its impact on individuals, families and communities. Government restrictions meant prioritisation of service delivery and early graduation for student social workers with rapid recruitment into frontline practice. This article considers the role of the regulator in governance of education and training whilst working collaboratively with government, employers and academics, supporting students entering the workforce and ensuring professional development for existing workers. In telling the story, this paper explores the dovetailing of functions that tested flexibility and rigor of existing systems and partnerships.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

COVID-19 impact on social work admissions and education in seven international universities

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

Inter-country Social Work admissions and educational comparisons are difficult due to variance in policy and practices between Social Work educational providers, even within the same country. However, this paper aims to provide an examination of different levels of impact that COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ had on ‘admissions to social work’ processes and on education, using examples from universities in Australia, England, Finland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Ireland and Sweden. Already we know that across these examples, admission processes differ significantly. Variances are between selection and entry methodologies with some institutions using academic entry criteria and personal statements and interviews, while others use academic entry criteria and relevant experience or academic entry only. We also know that practicum duration is variable across providers, lasting between 75 and 200 days. Despite all differences, a distinct adjustment to lockdown required a shift to virtual teaching methods for each institution. This paper seeks to explore the range of approaches adopted to lockdown in relation to practice learning placements in each example. This paper considers the underpinning values and principles that guided responses to the change processes in the various institutions and longer-term implications emerging from the required rapid change processes are discussed.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Resilience during uncertainty? Greater social connectedness during COVID‐19 lockdown is associated with reduced distress and fatigue

British Journal of Health Psychology

Background: Social connections are crucial for our health and well‐being. This is especially true during times of high uncertainty and distress, such as during the COVID‐19 lockdown. This period was characterized by unprecedented physical distancing (often communicated as social distancing) measures resulting in significant changes to people’s usual social lives. Given the potential effects of this disruption on people’s well‐being, it is crucial to identify factors which are associated with negative health outcomes, and conversely, those that promote resilience during times of adversity. Aims: This study examined the relationship between individuals’ levels of social connectedness during lockdown and self‐reported stress, worry, and fatigue. Method: Survey data were collected from 981 individuals in a representative sample of Austrian citizens. Data collection occurred during the last week of a six‐week nationwide lockdown due to the COVID‐19 pandemic. The final sample consisted of 902 participants. Participants were asked to complete validated questionnaires to assess levels of social connectedness as well as measures of perceived stress, worry - both general and COVID‐19 specific - and symptoms of fatigue during the previous two weeks. Results: The results demonstrate that greater social connectedness during the lockdown period was associated with lower levels of perceived stress, as well as general and COVID‐19‐specific worries. Furthermore, this study found a negative relationship between fatigue and social connectedness, which was mediated by feelings of stress, general worries, and COVID‐19‐specific worries - respectively, indicating that individuals with smaller network sizes, who were highly distressed during the pandemic, were also likely to report feeling more fatigued. Conclusion: The findings highlight the important role that social connections play in promoting resilience by buffering against negative physical and mental health outcomes, particularly in times of adversity in times of adversity.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020