COVID-19 resources

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Helping out: taking an inclusive approach to engaging older volunteers

Centre for Ageing Better

This guide is designed as a practical tool to support organisations working with volunteers to engage over 50s and widen participation among different types of people. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an outpouring of community spirit and volunteering, which has been critical to the local response. Many older people have made significant contributions to their communities during lockdown, with 30% of people aged 50 to 70 volunteering informally and 87% saying they wanted to continue. However, others have been prevented from helping during this time and may now require support. The guide sets out five actions to support organisations to re-engage volunteers and widen participation among those aged 50 and over in future. They include: connect and listen; focus on what matters to people; play to people’s strengths; remove barriers; and be flexible.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

An inquiry into the lived experience of Covid-19 in the home care sector in Ireland: the experiences of home care provider organisations

Home and Community Care Ireland

This exploratory research into the health, social and economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the eighteen home care provider organisations who responded to a survey sheds light on how those on the forefront of home care coped during one of the largest viral outbreaks in modern history. A questionnaire consisting of ten open-ended questions was developed following a rapid literature review and internal consultations. These questions were categorised under five subheadings: management, service provision, relationships, health and wellbeing, and the future. Key findings include: The most significant problem was workforce shortage – specifically, two thirds of organisations indicated low staffing levels due to a lack of childcare brought about by the closure of schools and creches; almost every third organisation noted a decrease in home care services, ranging from 20-30 per cent, mostly due to clients cocooning and self-isolating; another issue that featured strongly across all responses was related to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic – stress, fear, worry and even panic; almost every other organisation identified Protective Personal Equipment (PPS) to be a significant cause for concern – supply and distribution was a considerably more prevalent issue than the actual cost of PPE; to ensure the smooth running of business at a very chaotic time, all the providers implemented a range of novel policies and procedures – this rapid development of new ways of delivering service safely took place on several interrelated levels; the crisis exposed any structural shortcomings within the home care sector, but equally it brought about a sense of togetherness, cooperation and mutual support within the sector – and beyond it.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Promising approaches revisited: supplementary case studies

Campaign to End Loneliness

This supplement is a companion piece to the report Promising Approaches Revisited: Effective action on loneliness in later life. That report sets out the different elements needed for effective action to reduce loneliness. These case studies show the framework in action, illustrating how each element may work in practice. They cover: connectors services, including social prescribing; direct solution including group-based interventions and one-to-one approaches; gateway infrastructure such as digital technology and the built environment; and neighbourhood approaches.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Home comforts: how the design of our homes and neighbourhoods effected our experience of the Covid-19 lockdown and what we can learn for the future

Place Alliance

This report summarises findings of a national survey of 2,500 households (representing 7,200 people) aimed at understanding how well or how poorly the design of their homes and their immediate neighbourhoods supported them during the period of coronavirus lockdown. The findings offer insights into how we should be designing or adapting them in the future in order that they are more resilient and better able to support happy and healthy lifestyles. Findings are grouped according to the following themes: about you during lockdown; your home during lockdown; your neighbourhood during lockdown; your community during lockdown. The findings show that two thirds of people felt comfortable or very comfortable during lockdown, but a sixth were either uncomfortable or very uncomfortable. Extrapolated across the UK this would represent 10.7 million uncomfortable people – social renters suffered the most and key workers were least comfortable. Access to private open space from the home was the strongest design-based predictor of comfort. A minority suffer poorly designed neighbourhoods and newer neighbourhoods come out worse. All categories of dwelling and neighbourhood saw an increase in community feeling and support during lockdown, but those with the strongest pre-exiting sense of community saw it reinforced most. Respondents reflected on a period in which people seemed friendlier (despite social distancing), in which the environment seemed to recover and even thrive, and in which they had more time for things that matter, the family, exercise, the garden, neighbours and the community.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Key workers: creative ageing in lockdown and after

The Baring Foundation

This report focuses on creative ageing during the pandemic, drawing on a small survey of 62 arts organisations as well as short case studies describing their experience of offering activities during lockdown. During lockdown there were many artists skilled in working with older people and with established relationships including with care homes and housing associations, as well as with charities for older people. Lockdown meant that these arts organisations needed to develop new ways of working with older people which had until then almost always been in person. Most organisations swiftly developed online offers of activities, usually from scratch. These were either interactive, for instance using Zoom, or performances or ‘how to’ sessions that might be on YouTube or similar platforms. Keenly aware of the digital divide, these were almost always accompanied by non-digital methods such as telephone contact and activity packs through the post and often extended to other services such as befriending or delivering food. The report argues that towards the end of 2020 the future for creative ageing looks uncertain, with the nation depending on social distancing and many older people and care homes being extremely cautious about interacting with other people. For the foreseeable future this is likely to be a blended approach of remote working methods that are both digital and non-digital. More needs to delivered by care home staff though they are already overstretched. Crucially, arts organisations will be reliant on the support of funders, especially in the arts and health sectors.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

COVID-19 and disruptions to the health and social care of older people in England

Institute for Fiscal Studies

This report uses newly available survey data to examine how health and social care has been disrupted among the older population in England in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides evidence of how widespread were the disruptions to the use of hospitals, GPs and community and social care services, and access to prescription medication, from February 2020 to May 2020. The analysis reveals that disruptions to hospital care were widespread during the early stages of the pandemic – a sixth of the over-50 population in England had hospital treatment or an operation cancelled. Older people, those living in more deprived areas and those with worse self-reported health were most likely to experience a disruption to their hospital care. Disruptions to the use of GP and community health and social care services were also widespread. Almost a quarter of those reporting that they needed to speak to a GP did not, while almost three-quarters of those reporting that they needed community health and social care services did not use these. 12.8% of those who reported ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ health failed to see a GP when attempting to do so, compared with just 5.8% among those with ‘excellent’ health. Those living in the most deprived areas were most affected by disruptions to community services. 37% of those living in the least deprived areas did not access these services even after attempting to do so, increasing to 46% among those living in the most deprived areas. Care-seeking behaviour changed radically in the early stages of the pandemic, with a significant proportion of patients with care needs not actively seeking help. 14% of those requiring GP care, and more than a third of those reporting that they needed community care services, did not contact these services.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Promising approaches revisited: effective action on loneliness in later life

Campaign to End Loneliness

Drawing on the expertise and experience of leading figures in the field, academic literature and other evidence, this report presents an update to an earlier framework for loneliness interventions published in 2015. The framework helps to make sense of the different ways we can address loneliness, and explains how these approaches fit together to create an effective community response. The guide offers examples of these approaches in action so that organisations can find inspiration from others. The new guide learns the lessons of the last five years – as well as the impact of the pandemic and how organisations tackling loneliness have adapted. Its key message is that to tackle loneliness, different types of support need to be in place. People need to have the infrastructure to engage in social life, whether that is about digital, transport or a built environment that supports social life. Finally, there are direct ways of reducing loneliness whether that is one-to-one or in groups, or psychological support. A key change to the framework is the addition of the built environment as part of the ‘gateway infrastructure’ that helps tackle loneliness, recognising the role shops, cafes and pubs play as places to meet.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Supporting working carers in COVID-19: response and reflections: employer survey report

Carers UK

Findings of a research survey of 114 members of the Employers for Carers (EfC) business forum to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working carers and how employers have supported them. The analysis shows that: 9 out of 10 employers (90%) said they had put in additional arrangements to support carers’ health and wellbeing during the pandemic; three quarters of employers said they had offered additional flexible working arrangements for carers; around 6 out of 10 employers (61%) offered different arrangements for staff who were caring for someone in the shielded category; half of employers said their organisation offered carers leave or special leave to carers within their workforce, and 34% said that they offered furloughing; there was a relatively even split between organisations who said they had a carers network or support group (44%) and those who did not (42%); a relatively high number (72%) said they had key workers in frontline roles that may place them at greater risk; around a half of respondents said their organisation had developed, or had plans to develop, new additional organisational/HR/other policies or procedures as a result of the pandemic; over a third of respondents felt their organisations had learned new practical lessons that would help them in supporting carer employees. Implementing better remote working and flexibility were key issues identified. The report highlights key areas of carer support which EfC member organisations have been providing during COVID-19 and makes a number of recommendations, calling on national and local government to optimise their communications around carers so that they are clear about what caring can continue in different areas during the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Advice and guidance on discharging COVID-19 positive patients to care homes

Royal College of Physicians

A brief summary of current advice and guidance about discharging patients to care homes. The main points are that: patients should be discharged as soon as they are fit, whether they are COVID-19 positive or not; COVID-19 positive patients being discharged into a care home setting can only be discharged into care homes that have been designated safe by the CQC – if their own care home is not COVID-19 safe, they need to be discharged into alternative accommodation; it is the responsibility of the local authority to find alternative accommodation.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Interventions to support the resilience and mental health of frontline health and social care professionals during and after a disease outbreak, epidemic or pandemic: a mixed methods systematic review (Review)

Cochrane

Objectives: to assess the effects of interventions aimed at supporting the resilience and mental health of frontline health and social care professionals during and after a disease outbreak, epidemic or pandemic. And to identify barriers and facilitators that may impact on the implementation of interventions aimed at supporting the resilience and mental health of frontline health and social care professionals during and after a disease outbreak, epidemic or pandemic. Methods: the researchers searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Global Index Medicus databases and WHO Institutional Repository for Information Sharing. They also searched ongoing trials registers and Google Scholar. They ran all searches from the year 2002 onwards, with no language restrictions. Selection criteria: this review included studies in which participants were health and social care professionals working at the front line during infectious disease outbreaks, categorised as epidemics or pandemics by WHO, from 2002 onwards. Outcomes critical to this review were general mental health and resilience. Additional outcomes included psychological symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress; burnout; other mental health disorders; workplace staffing; and adverse events arising from interventions. Data collection and analysis: Pairs of review authors independently applied selection criteria to abstracts and full papers, with disagreements resolved through discussion. One review author systematically extracted data, cross-checked by a second review author. Results: 16 studies were included that reported implementation of an intervention aimed at supporting the resilience or mental health of frontline workers during disease outbreaks (severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS): 2; Ebola: 9; Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS): 1; COVID‐19: 4). Interventions studied included workplace interventions, such as training, structure and communication (6 studies); psychological support interventions, such as counselling and psychology services (8 studies); and multifaceted interventions (2 studies). Objective 1: a mixed‐methods study that incorporated a cluster‐randomised trial, investigating the effect of a work‐based intervention, provided very low‐certainty evidence about the effect of training frontline healthcare workers to deliver psychological first aid on a measure of burnout. Objective 2: all 16 studies were included in the qualitative evidence synthesis, where 17 key findings from multiple barriers and facilitators reported in studies were identified. The reviewers did not have high confidence in any of the findings. The reviewers were moderately confident that the following two factors were barriers to intervention implementation: frontline workers, or the organisations in which they worked, not being fully aware of what they needed to support their mental well‐being; and a lack of equipment, staff time or skills needed for an intervention. The reviewers were moderately confident that the following three factors were facilitators of intervention implementation: interventions that could be adapted for local needs; having effective communication, both formally and socially; and having positive, safe and supportive learning environments for frontline workers. The reviewers were moderately confident that the knowledge or beliefs, or both, that people have about an intervention can act as either barriers or facilitators to implementation of the intervention. Conclusions: There is a lack of both quantitative and qualitative evidence from studies carried out during or after disease epidemics and pandemics that can inform the selection of interventions that are beneficial to the resilience and mental health of frontline workers. Alternative sources of evidence (e.g. from other healthcare crises, and general evidence about interventions that support mental well‐being) could therefore be used to inform decision making. When selecting interventions aimed at supporting frontline workers' mental health, organisational, social, personal, and psychological factors may all be important. Research to determine the effectiveness of interventions is a high priority. The COVID‐19 pandemic provides unique opportunities for robust evaluation of interventions. Future studies must be developed with appropriately rigorous planning, including development, peer review and transparent reporting of research protocols, following guidance and standards for best practice, and with appropriate length of follow‐up. Factors that may act as barriers and facilitators to implementation of interventions should be considered during the planning of future research and when selecting interventions to deliver within local settings.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020