COVID-19 resources

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Impact of COVID-19 policy responses on live-in care workers in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

Journal of Long-Term Care

Context: The measures taken to counter the COVID-19 pandemic restricted the circular migration of live-in care workers between their countries of origin and the elderly persons’ households. Objective: In this comparative policy analysis, the impact of COVID-19 related policy measures for transnationally organised live-in care in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland is investigated. Method: Policy measures and media debates were analysed and inquiries with care workers, representatives of care agencies, unions, and activist groups were carried out between March and June 2020. Findings: In accordance with their institutionalisation of live-in care, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland responded differently to the challenges the pandemic posed to live-in care arrangements. However, all three countries focused on extending care workers’ rotas and re-establishing transnational mobility. These priorities subordinated the interests of care workers to those of care recipients. Furthermore, the measures remained short-term solutions that failed to acknowledge the fundamental flaws and inequalities of a care model that relies primarily on female migrant workers and wage differentials within Europe. Limitations: This policy comparison is based on an in-depth analysis of COVID-19 related policies, supplemented by inquiries among stakeholders with whom research had been done prior to the pandemic. More in-depth interviews are required to further substantiate the findings concerning their perspectives and gain insight into the longer-term effects of the pandemic. Implications: The pandemic has brought the flaws of the live-in care model to the fore. Countries need to rethink their fragile care policies, which build on social inequality and uninhibited transnational mobility.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

The end of lockdown? The last six months in the lives of families raising disabled children: UK findings

Family Fund

Findings of a study to understand how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting families raising disabled or seriously ill children in the UK and the need and concerns they have as a result of the pandemic. This document draws on three waves of online surveys, as well as in-depth interviews with a sample of families. In total more than 7,000 families raising 9,000 disabled or seriously ill children have participated in the research. The study demonstrates that the increased pressures and ongoing lack of support appear to be having a lasting negative impact on the financial and mental wellbeing of families raising disabled or seriously ill children. More specifically, the findings reveal that: half of families have lost income as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and more than three quarters are experiencing increased household costs; two in five families have seen their savings reduce, leaving seven in 10 families with no money to fall back on and increasing levels of debt; more than three in five families have seen the levels of formal and informal support decrease since the coronavirus outbreak, with many still going without vital forms of support; the mental health and wellbeing of the majority of disabled or seriously ill children, as well as their siblings and parent carers, has been negatively impacted, and showing little signs of recovery. The report concludes by arguing that addressing these health and wellbeing needs, as well as their growing financial and support needs are the most pressing priorities put forward by families.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Changes in older people’s experiences of providing care and of volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic

English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Engagement in socially productive activities, such as care provision and voluntary work, make important contributions to society, and may have been especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. They have also been associated with better health, well-being, and longer survival for older people. The ELSA COVID-19 Substudy provided data to allow for an exploration of how changes in caring and volunteering may have occurred during the pandemic, and to examine this in relation to factors such as sex, age, employment status, wealth, COVID-19 vulnerability and symptoms, and pre-pandemic experiences of health. Overall, there have been important changes in both the level of care provided by older people and the extent of their involvement in volunteering, with, on average, care provision more likely to have increased or stayed the same (65% of older carers reported this), and volunteering more likely to have decreased or stopped (61% of older volunteers reported this). However, a large number of older people took on new caring roles for someone outside the household (12%) and 4% of older people registered to volunteer as part of the NHS scheme. Both economic characteristics (such as paid employment and wealth) and health-related characteristics (such as being vulnerable, self-isolating, having experienced COVID-19 symptoms, and reporting functional limitations) were related to changes the frequency of caring and voluntary work. It is yet unclear how these changes in caring and volunteering have influenced older people’s health and well-being during the coronavirus outbreak. Investigating the impact of the pandemic on broader health and well-being outcomes for older people, the role of changes in care provision and volunteering in this, and how we might respond to this, is a crucial next step.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Cross-departmental actions for vulnerable children and young people during the Covid-19 pandemic period: consultation document

Northern Ireland. Department of Health

This plan has been developed in response to the challenges and risks facing children, young people and their families in Northern Ireland due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is intended to reflect a series of activities that will be, or have been, undertaken across the Executive to meet the needs of vulnerable children, young people and their families during this time and in the recovery period after. The aim of the plan is to promote the safety and well-being of children and young people during the Covid-19 pandemic period within the home environment and within the wider community; and to strengthen system capacity to respond to current challenges and risks; and rebuild services. This consultation seek to ensure to ensure the plan reflects the activities that are being undertaken to support children and vulnerable families during Covid-19; reflects how services have adapted and enhanced provision to continue to support children and families during Covid-19; and includes new actions, which have been undertaken specifically to address some of lockdown's risks and challenges.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

The more you know, the less you fear: reflexive social work practices in times of COVID-19

International Social Work

This article presents the results of a strategy to disseminate best social work practices during periods of social lockdown in Spain, in a climate characterised by post-truth, misinformation and fake news. Social work is challenged with the task of delivering reliable and quality information aimed at building a better society. At the time of writing, Spain was one of the countries most affected by COVID-19, with one of the highest numbers of deaths per million inhabitants in the world. With the population in lockdown, the strategy was to design a series of innovative web seminars on both the subject and the procedures involved in social work, with the aim of sharing information and best practices to counter disinformation campaigns on social media. The results show the growing demand – both by citizens in general and students and professionals in particular – for reliable information in the field of professional practice. One of the priorities of digital social work must be to disseminate its results in the digital environment.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on children’s social care in England

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: As a response to COVID-19 the population of England was asked to stay at home and work from there wherever possible. This included those working in children’s social care (CSC) who have responsibility for child protection and other safeguarding duties. Objective: The study was designed to understand how CSC made the transition from being an office-based agency to one where the majority of social workers were based at home and to understand how CSC perceived the impact on children and their families. Participants and setting Senior members of CSC staff in 15 local authorities took part in the research in June 2020. Methods: Nine interviews were conducted by video call, three by telephone, and three consisted of initial written responses that were then followed by telephone calls. Results: Service delivery had been maintained across all the authorities with most visits being made virtually after assessments of risk had been conducted on all cases. Multiagency working had improved, with greater involvement of general practitioners and paediatricians. Overall activity in CSC had been lower than normal but as lockdown eased this was changing. Concerns were expressed about how to manage the response that would be required to meet the expected level of harm that had occurred but been hidden. Conclusions: Responses to COVID-19 prompted widespread innovation and it will be an imperative to evaluate which initiatives have worked for children and families, as well as practitioners, and which should be discarded, sustained or reshaped.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Comparative optimism about infection and recovery from COVID‐19; Implications for adherence with lockdown advice

Health Expectations

Background: Comparative optimism, the belief that negative events are more likely to happen to others rather than to oneself, is well established in health risk research. It is unknown, however, whether comparative optimism also permeates people’s health expectations and potentially behaviour during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Objectives: Data were collected through an international survey (N = 6485) exploring people’s thoughts and psychosocial behaviours relating to COVID‐19. This paper reports UK data on comparative optimism. In particular, we examine the belief that negative events surrounding risk and recovery from COVID‐19 are perceived as more likely to happen to others rather than to oneself. Methods: Using online snowball sampling through social media, anonymous UK survey data were collected from N = 645 adults during weeks 5‐8 of the UK COVID‐19 lockdown. The sample was normally distributed in terms of age and reflected the UK ethnic and disability profile. Findings: Respondents demonstrated comparative optimism where they believed that as compared to others of the same age and gender, they were unlikely to experience a range of controllable (eg accidentally infect/ be infected) and uncontrollable (eg need hospitalization/ intensive care treatment if infected) COVID‐19‐related risks in the short term (P < .001). They were comparatively pessimistic (ie thinking they were more at risk than others for developing COVID‐19‐related infection or symptoms) when thinking about the next year. Discussion: This is the first ever study to report compelling comparative biases in UK adults’ thinking about COVID‐19 We discuss ways in which such thinking may influence adherence with lockdown regimes as these are being relaxed in the UK.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Reflections on social work 2020 under Covid-19 online magazine

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 was a free online magazine conceived just before the UK’s Covid-19 full lockdown began, in late March 2020. It ran for five editions until 14 July 2020. In this time it published close to 100 articles from academics, people with lived experience, practitioners and students. It contained a far higher proportion of submissions from the last three groups of contributors than traditional journals. This article draws on the six-person editorial collective’s reflections on the magazine: it considers its founding purposes; its role in fostering social work community, utilizing an adaptation of social capital classifications; and its potential as a learning tool. It concludes by arguing that the magazine illustrates the potential for free online publications to be an important emergent vehicle for ‘everyday activism’ within the field of social work.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Impact of COVID-19 related social support service closures on people with dementia and unpaid carers: a qualitative study

Aging and Mental Health

Objectives: Accessing social care and social support services is key to support the well-being of people living with dementia (PLWD) and unpaid carers. COVID-19 has caused sudden closures or radical modifications of these services, and is resulting in prolonged self-isolation. The aim of this study was to explore the effects of COVID-19 related social care and support service changes and closures on the lives of PLWD and unpaid carers. Method: PLWD and unpaid carers were interviewed via telephone in April 2020. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Demographic characteristics including household Index of Multiple Deprivation score and weekly hours of social support service usage before and since the COVID-19 outbreak were also collected. Paired samples t-tests was used to compare the mean of weekly hours of social support service usage before and since the outbreak. Results: 50 semi-structured interviews were conducted with unpaid carers (n = 42) and PLWD (n = 8). There was a significant reduction in social support service usage since the outbreak. Thematic analysis identified three overarching themes: (1) Loss of control; (2) Uncertainty; (3) Adapting and having to adapt to the new normal. Carers and PLWD were greatly affected by the sudden removal of social support services, and concerned about when services would re-open. Carers were worried about whether the person they cared for would still be able to re-join social support services. Conclusions: PLWD and carers need to receive specific practical and psychological support during the pandemic to support their well-being, which is severely affected by public health restrictions.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

What helped people and communities cope during Covid

What Works Centre for Wellbeing

An outline of the key findings from the Collective Psychology Project, which has been researching how people coped and even thrived during the adversity of 2020. The study explored how people discovered the ‘active ingredients’ of mental health, not just through therapy and pills, but also through self-care and mutual aid activities — from poetry to philosophy, from baking to cycling, from online learning to joining a neighbourhood support group. The blog offers some suggestions and reflections, including: doctors and health authorities should be careful not to pathologise the normal and appropriate suffering people feel in hard times; as well as supporting mental health services, we can also emphasise people’s strengths, assets and natural coping skills, including community approaches; building psychological flexibility, rather than happiness, is critical; wellbeing involves all aspects of society, from the economy to the arts to travel and green spaces; community infrastructure is essential for communities to thrive.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

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