COVID-19 resources

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Iriss on… social isolation and technology

The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services

A brief overview of social isolation, the implications of the COVID-19 crisis, and how technology can support social connectedness, through access to social networks, health and care resources, entertainment or educational content. The document gives a definition of social isolation and explains who is at risk, the causes and consequences of isolation, and the role digital technology. It also highlights and signposts to relevant evidence and literature.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Fair care work: a post Covid-19 agenda for integrated employment relations in health and social care

King's College London

This paper contributes to deliberations on fair care work, presenting policy options designed to address the challenges to employment relations in health and social care highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis. In general, the pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of many workers in modern labour markets adding weight to recent calls for action in dealing with the precarious nature of employment in the ‘Gig Economy’. The paper argues that the organisational difficulties faced in dealing with the virus have exposed a related but distinctive set of challenges for the management of health and social care workforce and maps the way forward along key dimensions of employment: migrant workers; pay determination; learning and development; and the nature and consequences of outsourcing. The paper sets out a model of fair care work based on four essential principles: integration, aligning the treatment of workers in health and social care; parity of esteem for workers employed by different types of service provider and across the occupational hierarchy; compliance to ensure the effective implementation of fair care work; and collective employee voice to guarantee employee interests are meaningfully aggregated and articulated.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Managing through COVID-19: the experiences of children’s social care in 15 English local authorities

King's College London

This study examines the arrangements put in place in children’s social care services during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown and considers what their impact and legacy might be. A modified Delphi methodology was adopted, gathering expert opinion from 15 representatives of English local authorities to through a series of iterative questionnaires, with a goal of coming to a group consensus. Findings cover a whole range of issues, including home and office working; referrals; working with families in a pandemic; foster care; care leavers and unaccompanied young people seeking asylum; residential homes; multi-agency working; recruitment; planning for the end of lockdown; and lessons for the future. The study found that the local authorities have responded to three interrelated imperatives: to keep social workers safe while promoting their health and wellbeing, to work with extremely vulnerable families and to use technology to undertake work with these families who may be technology poor. All authorities were conscious that soon they could be facing additional challenges as they dealt not only with the practicalities of social distancing and technology, but the increased number of referrals that they expected once other services returned to ‘more business as usual’ operations. There was concern about those families who had been exposed to the risks arising within their homes such as domestic abuse, coercive control, alcohol and substance misuse, with consequences for their mental and physical health. COVID-19 has also offered opportunities, leading children’s social care services to think afresh about how things work and speed up changes that would have taken years to introduce. Previous notions of how to conduct an assessment, engage in direct practice and offer student placements are amongst the many activities that have been tested and reshaped, at least temporarily. Similarly, virtual visits to families were reported to be effective in certain circumstances and be less intrusive for some families, although establishing face-to-face contact in the home will continue to be necessary.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Managing through COVID-19: the experiences of children’s social care in 15 English local authorities: briefing paper

King's College London

Summarises the finding of a study examining the arrangements put in place in children’s social care services in 15 local authorities during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown. Findings cover: the social work workforce; referrals to children’s social care; work with families; foster care; care leavers; unaccompanied young people seeking asylum; residential homes; multi-agency working; cross-authority work; students and placements; recruitment; support for local authorities through COVID-19; planning for the end of lockdown; and lessons for the future. Lessons include: the use of technology in contacting parents should be approached with caution, taking account of the family’s ability to access it and their confidence in working in this way, and the service’s capacity to provide support in doing so; a proportion of meetings and other interactions will continue to be conducted virtually but these should be monitored to determine what it is effective and efficient to do and in what particular circumstances; the potential of technology to improve social workers’ engagement with young people has been established, but it is important to recognise that it will not work for everyone and there will be those who do not wish to use it in some circumstances; it will be important to build on positive developments that have emerged such as those in relation to multi-agency working.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Impact of coronavirus in care homes in England: 26 May to 19 June 2020

The Office for National Statistics

Sets out the first results from the Vivaldi study, a large scale survey which looked at coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in 9,081 care homes providing care for dementia patients and the elderly in England. Across the care homes included in the study, 56% are estimated to have reported at least one confirmed case of coronavirus (staff or resident). Across these, an estimated 20% of residents and 7% of staff tested positive for COVID-19, as reported by care home managers, since the start of the pandemic. The emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents. These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents. Findings also include some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infection amongst staff. These include prevalence of infection in residents (although this is weaker than the effect of staff infection on residents), some care home practices (such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and care homes employing staff who work across multiple sites) and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber). However, regional differences may be affected by different patterns of testing in staff and residents over time.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Capturing beneficial change from the COVID-19 pandemic: response from the British Geriatrics Society

British Geriatrics Society

This report provides examples of the beneficial innovations that have been implemented across the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues that they should be consolidated and retained as health care services start to resume business as usual. Some of the innovations take place at the interface between health and social care, giving an indication of how integrated care can move forward. The examples are organised into ten themes, covering: proactive anticipatory care for older people with frailty; urgent primary care response; specialist-led assessment and treatment at home; coordinated multi-agency support for care homes; person-centred advance care planning; age-attuned acute care; safe, effective and timely transfers of care; optimising rehabilitation and recovery; virtual clinics; and digitally-enabled care. For each theme, the report provides a short description of the innovation, one or two examples of this innovation being implemented and a brief outline of the benefits to patients and staff. The document concludes with details of the key enablers that are present throughout the themes and details on how these innovations can be sustained nationally to ensure that the lessons learned in the pandemic are not lost.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Guidance for those under 25 who provide care for someone

Department of Health and Social Care

This guidance is for young carers and young adult carers and will also be helpful for those who provide services to support young people who provide care. It provides information and advice to help young carers understand the changes they need to make during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and signposts the help available. It builds on previously published guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family and is also available as an easy read version. The content covers: definition of young carers and young adult carers; knowing how to help stop coronavirus spreading and caring for others; staying well and keeping safe on the internet; concerns about money, accessing support, food and medication; studying at home, resources to help, contact with school; how to continue to support when not living at home; and where to get further support – helplines and websites.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

The future of care for older people: turning the lessons learned into actions

Age UK

Drawing on the lessons from the pandemic, Caroline Abrahams argues that far-reaching change to adult social care, and funding to match, cannot be put off any longer. The article explores adult social care under-funding, what good care for older people looks like, prioritising care at home, care and dementia, health and nursing support for care homes, parity for care staff with the NHS, and accountability for care and the role of ICSs.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Leading in isolation during Covid-19

King's Fund

Lesley Flatley shares the challenges of leading an independent residential home during the pandemic and the feeling of isolation and loneliness that social care leaders may experience without the support of a large organisation like the NHS. The blog also looks at the actions and strategies they implemented to address and support the emotional and mental wellbeing of staff and residents and reflects on the lessons learned, including the role of technology.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020

Video calls for reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people: a rapid review (Review)

Cochrane

A rapid review to assess the effectiveness of video calls for reducing social isolation and loneliness in older adults. The review also sought to address the effectiveness of video calls on reducing symptoms of depression and improving quality of life. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi‐RCTs (including cluster designs) were eligible for inclusion. Main results: Three cluster quasi-randomised trials, which together included 201 participants were included in this review. The included studies compared video call interventions to usual care in nursing homes. None of these studies were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each study measured loneliness using the UCLA Loneliness Scale. The evidence was very uncertain and suggests that video calls may result in little to no difference in scores on the Geriatric Depression Scale compared to usual care at three months' follow-up. Conclusion: Based on this review there is currently very uncertain evidence on the effectiveness of video call interventions to reduce loneliness in older adults. The review did not include any studies that reported evidence of the effectiveness of video call interventions to address social isolation in older adults. The evidence regarding the effectiveness of video calls for outcomes of symptoms of depression was very uncertain. Future research in this area needs to use more rigorous methods and more diverse and representative participants.

Last updated on hub: 07 July 2020