COVID-19 resources

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Child protection conference practice during COVID-19: reflections and experiences (rapid consultation September–October 2020): executive summary

Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

Summary of the findings of a rapid consultation to explore how child protection conferences (CPCs) practice has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact this has had on the children, families, and professionals involved. The consultation included an online survey and a series of interviews; 492 professionals responded to the survey and there were respondents from 108 of 151 local authorities in England and 16 of 22 in Wales; 52 of the professionals were also interviewed; 24 parents responded to the survey and 14 of them were interviewed. Survey responses suggested that CPCs were mainly being conducted over video or by phone, while a substantial minority of professionals had attended at least one ‘hybrid’ conference, where some people attended in person, and others joined by phone or video. Overall, according to professionals, the positives and negatives associated with remote CPCs are fairly evenly balanced. The main advantages identified were: better attendance by, and improved engagement of, a wider range of professionals, as well as convenience in terms of time saved; some felt that CPCs were less intimidating for parents. The main disadvantages as far as professionals were concerned were: limitations in terms of the restricted opportunities for discussion and reflection; problems with technology; loss of a sense of seriousness; issues around parental engagement - this includes parents not always being able to understand what was happening and not being prepared or supported to engage fully - particular issues were identified for parents with learning difficulties and language or communication needs; overarching concerns around confidentiality and safety. The small sample of parents who responded to the survey or were interviewed were much less positive than professionals – all parents interviewed said they would have preferred a face-to-face conference.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

Build back fairer: the COVID-19 Marmot review. The pandemic, socioeconomic and health inequalities in England

The aim of this report is three-fold: to examine inequalities in COVID-19 mortality, focusing on mortality among members of BAME groups and among certain occupations, alongside continued attention to the socioeconomic gradient in health; to show the effects that the pandemic, and the societal response to contain the pandemic, have had on social and economic inequalities, their effects on mental and physical health, and their likely effects on health inequalities in the future; and to make recommendations on what needs to be done. The report sets out the proposition that England’s comparatively poor management of the pandemic is of a piece with England’s health improvement falling behind that of other rich countries in the decade since 2010. It offers four likely reasons why: the quality of governance and political culture which did not give priority to the conditions for good health; continuing increases in inequalities in economic and social conditions, including a rise in poverty among families with children; a policy of austerity and consequent cuts to funding of public services; and a poor state of the nation’s health that would increase the lethality of COVID-19. The high mortality rate of members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups can be attributed to living in more deprived areas, working in high-risk occupations, living in overcrowded conditions. Structural racism means that some ethnic groups are more likely to be exposed to adverse social and economic conditions. The report argues that the pandemic must be taken as an opportunity to build a fairer society, acknowledging that economic growth is a limited measure of societal success. It suggests that to build back fairer there needs to be a commitment at two levels. First is the commitment to social justice and putting equity of health and wellbeing at the heart of all policy-making, nationally, regionally and locally. The second level is to take the specific actions needed, as laid out in this report, to create healthier lives for all.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

The Government’s response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights report: the Government’s response to COVID-19: human rights implications

Department of Health and Social Care

The government’s formal response to the 55 recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report ‘The government’s response to COVID-19: human rights implications’. The original recommendations and this response focus on: the lockdown regulations; health and care; detention; contact tracing; children and the right to education; access to justice; procedural obligations to protect the right to life; accountability and scrutiny. The document reiterates that while the Care Act easements were intended as a tool to help local authorities continue to meet the most urgent and acute needs in the face of COVID-19, public safety remains a top priority, including for those who need care and support – Local Authorities remain under a duty to meet needs where failure to do so would breach an individual’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

Build back fairer: the COVID-19 Marmot review. The pandemic, socioeconomic and health inequalities in England. Executive summary

The aim of this report is three-fold: to examine inequalities in COVID-19 mortality, focusing on mortality among members of BAME groups and among certain occupations, alongside continued attention to the socioeconomic gradient in health; to show the effects that the pandemic, and the societal response to contain the pandemic, have had on social and economic inequalities, their effects on mental and physical health, and their likely effects on health inequalities in the future; and to make recommendations on what needs to be done. The report sets out the proposition that England’s comparatively poor management of the pandemic is of a piece with England’s health improvement falling behind that of other rich countries in the decade since 2010. It offers four likely reasons why: the quality of governance and political culture which did not give priority to the conditions for good health; continuing increases in inequalities in economic and social conditions, including a rise in poverty among families with children; a policy of austerity and consequent cuts to funding of public services; and a poor state of the nation’s health that would increase the lethality of COVID-19. The high mortality rate of members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups can be attributed to living in more deprived areas, working in high-risk occupations, living in overcrowded conditions. Structural racism means that some ethnic groups are more likely to be exposed to adverse social and economic conditions. The report argues that the pandemic must be taken as an opportunity to build a fairer society, acknowledging that economic growth is a limited measure of societal success. It suggests that to build back fairer there needs to be a commitment at two levels. First is the commitment to social justice and putting equity of health and wellbeing at the heart of all policy-making, nationally, regionally and locally. The second level is to take the specific actions needed, as laid out in this report, to create healthier lives for all.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

Keeping children and young people safe during a pandemic: testing the robustness of multi-agency child protection and safeguarding arrangements for schools

National Institute for Health Research

This study explored whether the multi-agency arrangements, of which schools are a part, have been sufficiently robust not to place children at increased risk during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK. The study provided the opportunity to explore the role of the school in multi-agency work during this time, not only from the perspective of schools and children's social care, but from that of other agencies including child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), school nurses and the police. Five local authorities took part in the research; in addition to strategic and operational leads for education and children’s social care, interviews were conducted with representatives of the police, strategic managers in health services, schools and colleges, virtual school heads, the school nursing service and child and adult mental health services; and a survey was also undertaken to gain schools’ views on how, if at all, multi-agency working had changed under COVID-19 restrictions. The study identified initiatives which had been introduced before COVID-19 but were accelerated by the prevailing conditions, as well as those that were developed because of these conditions. There were numerous references both to how quickly agencies’ ways of working had adapted and how a reactive response had been followed by a more proactive approach. This had been possible because of conversations that led to improved processes as well as systems that had been rapidly introduced. The report argues that it is now critical to consider how agencies will build on the strengths that have emerged, not least how professionals increase their availability and accessibility to others, and to reflect on those aspects of multi-agency work that did not get done or were carried out less thoroughly than they would have been before the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

Vulnerable children and young people survey: summary of returns waves 1 to 14

Department for Education

Findings of a survey of local authorities in England to help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on children’s social care. Local authorities were asked to report on the following areas: contact with children supported by the local authority children’s social care; children’s social care workforce; and system pressures. Headline figures for Wave 14 of the survey include: the total number of children looked after (CLA) was 7% higher than the same time in 2018 and the total number of children on a child protection plan (CPP) was 1% higher; a large proportion of CLA, children on a CPP and other children in need (CIN) have been in contact with a social worker in the last four weeks (70%, 95% and 63% respectively); the proportion of social workers not working due to coronavirus (COVID-19) has stabilised, with 3% of local authorities reporting over 10% of social workers unavailable due to coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wave 14; almost a quarter of local authorities (23%) reported over 10% of their residential care workers were unavailable due to coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wave 14, compared to 12% of local authorities in Wave 13; the total number of referrals during Wave 14 was 12% lower than the usual number at that time of year; the total number of children who started to be looked after reported in Waves 1 to 14 of the survey was 6,030. This is around 29% lower than the same period over the past three years.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 2020

Care and support workers’ perceptions of health and safety issues in social care during the COVID-19 pandemic: initial findings, 15 April 2020

University of Kent

This paper provides initial findings from legal and survey data about the role of care and support providers in the pandemic as employers with legal responsibilities for preventing harm to staff and people who use their services. The evidence suggests that care and supports workers, care home residents and other users of care and support services are exposed to the risk of SARS-CoV-2 virus without the protections to which they are legally entitled. The research team worked with UNISON in the North West of England to analyse findings from a survey of 2,600 care workers in approximately 1,200 different settings across residential care, home care, and support services for people with learning disabilities. The analysis of results is split into three sections, covering concerns about the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); pay problems; and other COVID-19 related health and safety concerns. The findings reveal that: a large majority of respondents believe too little is being done by employers to keep staff safe from the risks SARS-CoV-2 infection; a large majority of respondents believe too little is being done by employers to keep people using care and support safe; 8 in 10 care workers think that they would not be paid their wages as normal if they had to self-isolate; care workers who are ill with COVID-19 are not all self-isolating; care workers believe that lack of attention to minimising the risk of infection in care and support settings has directly contributed to outbreaks of COVID-19 in social care settings.

Last updated on hub: 14 December 2020

Characteristics and well-being of urban informal home care providers during COVID-19 pandemic: a population-based study

BMJ Open

Objectives Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed many healthcare systems, which has hampered access to routine clinical care during lockdowns. Informal home care, care provided by non-healthcare professionals, increases the community’s healthcare capacity during pandemics. There is, however, limited research about the characteristics of informal home care providers and the challenges they face during such public health emergencies. Design A random, cross-sectional, population-based, RDD, telephone survey study was conducted to examine patterns of home care, characteristics of informal home care providers and the challenges experienced by these care providers during this pandemic. Setting Data were collected from 22 March to 1 April 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Participants A population representative study sample of Chinese-speaking adults (n=765) was interviewed. Primary and secondary outcome measures The study examined the characteristics of informal home care providers and self-reported health requirements of those who needed care. The study also examined providers’ self-perceived knowledge to provide routine home care as well as COVID-19 risk reduction care. Respondents were asked of their mental health status related to COVID-19. Results Of the respondents, 25.1% of 765 provided informal home care during the studied COVID-19 pandemic period. Among the informal home care providers, 18.4% of respondents took leave from school/work during the epidemic to provide care for the sick, fragile elderly and small children. Care providers tended to be younger aged, female and housewives. Approximately half of care providers reported additional mental strain and 37.2% reported of challenges in daily living during epidemic. Although most informal home care providers felt competent to provide routine care, 49.5% felt inadequately prepared to cope with the additional health risks of COVID-19. Conclusion During public health emergencies, heavy reliance on informal home healthcare providers necessitates better understanding of their specific needs and increased government services to support informal home care.

Last updated on hub: 10 December 2020

Building relational research capacity in care homes in the COVID-19 era: applying recognition theory to the research agenda

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

Purpose: Research can be an influential driver in raising care home standards and the well-being and human rights of residents. This paper aims to present a case for how a relational research capacity building programme could advance this agenda. Design/methodology/approach: This study uses Axel Honneth’s Recognition Theory as a lens through which to explore organisational and institutional factors (such as research capacity and investment) that can either enable or limit “recognition” in the context of research in care homes. This paper draws on recent evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and worldwide, to argue that such a relational capacity building agenda is even more pressing in the current context, and that it resonates with evidence from existing relational capacity building initiatives. Findings: A lack of relevant research arguably contributed to the crisis experienced by the care home sector early in the pandemic, and there are only tentative signs that residents, care home providers and staff are now informing the COVID-19 research agenda. Evidence from pre COVID-19 and insights from Honneth’s Recognition Theory suggest that relational approaches to building research capacity within the care home sector can better generate evidence to inform practice. Originality/value: This is a novel application of recognition theory to research in the care home sector. Drawing on theory, as well as evidence, has enabled the authors to provide a rationale as to why relationship-based research capacity building in care homes warrants further investment.

Last updated on hub: 10 December 2020

A green social work perspective on social work during the time of COVID‐19

International Journal of Social Welfare

COVID‐19 has challenged social workers to engage with health pandemics and provide essential services in conditions of uncertainty and high risk. They have safeguarded children, older adults and diverse adults in ‘at risk’ groups under tough conditions mediated by digital technologies, adhered to government injunctions, maintained social and physical distancing under lockdown and worked from home remotely. Social workers and social care workers have risen to the challenges, providing services with inadequate personal protective equipment and limited supervision and support. This article highlights the degraded physical environments, socio‐economic and political contexts that intensify precariousness and constraints that neoliberalism imposed on professional capacity before and during this health pandemic. It provides guidelines to protect practitioners and service users. It concludes that practitioners ought to understand zoonotic diseases, environmental concerns, acquire disaster expertise and training, widen their practice portfolio and value their contributions to this pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 10 December 2020