COVID-19 resources

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How listening to co-produced research could have saved lives – and still may

Bristol University Press

Peter Beresford, author of 'Social Policy First Hand', on why the govenrnment should be paying attention to user-led and co-produced research approaches during he COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 12 June 2020

How mental health charities are responding to Covid-19

Centre for Mental Health

This short report summarises the activities and key concerns of a group of seventeen national mental health organisations that have been working together to respond to the Covid-19 crisis in England since March 2020. Evidence collated by the charities shows that the crisis has put extra pressure on people’s mental health. Surveys and research evidence all point to an increase in mental health problems that is likely to continue for some time. Mental health charities that provide helplines or offer direct support to people and communities all report increasing demand for help. Many have had to adapt their services very quickly and find ways of meeting additional demand with reduced resources. Charities are reporting a range of concerns about the impact of the pandemic on the public’s mental health; on the lives of people living with a mental health problem; and on mental health services. Mental health inequalities that existed prior to the pandemic have been magnified as a result of the virus and the lockdown. These include both the risk factors for poor mental health and the unequal life chances faced by people living with a mental health problem.

Last updated on hub: 08 October 2020

How the COVID-19 pandemic is focusing attention on loneliness and social isolation

Public Health Research and Practice

The effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic upon human health, economic activity and social engagement have been swift and far reaching. Emerging evidence shows that the pandemic has had dramatic mental health impacts, bringing about increased anxiety and greater social isolation due to the physical distancing policies introduced to control the disease. In this context, it is possible to more deeply appreciate the health consequences of loneliness and social isolation, which researchers have argued are enduring experiences for many people and under-recognised contributors to public health. This paper examines the social and psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on what this has revealed about the need to better understand and respond to social isolation and loneliness as public health priorities. Social isolation and loneliness are understood to be distinct conditions, yet each has been found to predict premature mortality, depression, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Estimates of the prevalence and distribution of social isolation and loneliness vary, possibly ranging from one-in-six to one-in-four people, and the lack of knowledge about the extent of these conditions indicates the need for population monitoring using standardised methods and validated measures. Reviews of the evidence relating to social isolation and loneliness interventions have found that befriending schemes, individual and group therapies, various shared activity programs, social prescription by healthcare providers, and diverse strategies using information and communication technologies have been tried. There remains uncertainty about what is effective for different population groups, particularly for prevention and for addressing the more complex condition of loneliness. In Australia, a national coalition – Ending Loneliness Together – has been established to bring together researchers and service providers to facilitate evidence gathering and the mobilisation of knowledge into practice. Research–practice partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaborations of this sort are essential for overcoming the public health problems of loneliness and social isolation that have pre-existed and will endure beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

How to do ‘learning’ in practice

King's Fund

As the government and health and care organisations are starting to reflect on what can be learned from their experiences of dealing with Covid-19, this article draws on insights from the literature on organisational learning to outline the key features of a productive ‘learning’ environment and process. These include: bearing witness to people’s experiences; paying attention to who you should be learning from and with, and how; capitalising on the learning that is already happening in practice; and being seriously curious about the positives.

Last updated on hub: 20 August 2020

How will Brexit affect the UK’s response to coronavirus?

The Nuffield Trust

This briefing looks at how leaving the single market might affect UK health and social care services in the short term as they try to deal with coronavirus while maintaining normal services. It will also look at what difference a deal might make, and the options that the UK and the EU have. The paper makes the following key points: leaving the single market will create new and wide-ranging problems for the majority of NHS medicines and medical devices which come from or via the EU – the coronavirus wave and Brexit stockpiling both created spikes in imported supplies, and filling both requirements at once may be very difficult; export blocks on medically vital supplies by the EU were used during the first wave of coronavirus and could cover the UK after 31 December; the UK will no longer have access to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which collects and shares intelligence on pandemics and other infectious disease outbreaks; based on negotiating documents, draft treaties, and briefing to date, the majority of the crucial issues for health which could have been secured in an agreement are not agreed upon by the two sides, or the outcome is uncertain – these should be given a higher priority in the context of the ongoing pandemic; several important areas for responding to coronavirus depend on cooperative practices and favourable decisions across the EU and UK, beyond simply the presence or absence of a deal; poor funding for public health and social care contributed to limitations in the UK’s capacity to address coronavirus during the first wave – leaving the single market will mean slower growth, making addressing these more difficult though the case to do so remains very strong.

Last updated on hub: 19 October 2020

Human Resources in the time of COVID-19

Skills for Care

The impact of COVID-19 has created an extremely challenging time for the social care workforce. There are a number of HR issues that are causing confusion and complications for both employers and employees, including furlough, sick leave and annual leave. This webinar – co-delivered with ACAS – covers many of the questions that have been raised by managers.

Last updated on hub: 29 June 2020

Impact and mortality of COVID-19 on people living with dementia: cross-country report

International Long-term Care Policy Network

This report brings together international evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living with dementia and an overview of international policy and practice measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 among people living with dementia. It draws on data from nine countries: United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Ireland, Italy, Australia, the United States (US), India, Kenya and Brazil. The analysis indicates that the share of people whose deaths were linked to COVID-19 in care homes who had dementia ranges from 29% to 75% across those countries. Within countries, people with dementia account for 25% of all COVID-19 related deaths in England and Wales, 31% in Scotland and 19% in Italy. In many places, the basic human rights of people with dementia may have been compromised during the pandemic. These rights include access to Intensive Care Units, hospital admissions, health care and palliative care. The controversial ban on visits (including spouses and care partners) to care homes across the world, have kept people with dementia detached from essential affective bonds and provision of family care for many months. The report argues that guidance and tools to support institutions and practitioners to respond better to the needs of people with dementia during the pandemic are needed as a matter of urgency. Confinement, isolation and many of the challenges brought about by the pandemic are detrimental to the cognitive and mental health symptoms in people with dementia across the world, both those living in the community and care homes. This report offers a list of short-term and long-term actions needed to ensure that people with dementia are not being left behind in this pandemic or future ones.

Last updated on hub: 28 September 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

Impact of COVID-19 on care and contact: experiences in the first COVID-19 lockdown on foster carers and young people in their care

Research In Practice: Dartington

This report summarises the findings from three questionnaires, which were designed to explore the impact of lockdown on young people in and leaving care. The three questionnaires were designed for: young people in care or with care experience; carers; and birth parents. Many young people and carers described how lockdown had given them more quality time to spend with families or those they live with; over 90% of those in foster care reported relationships at home had improved or stayed the same during lockdown. There were mixed views on virtual family time. While some felt it was a more flexible and convenient option which gave young people more control over the situation, the lack of physical contact was an issue for some, as was the additional responsibility this placed on foster carers to help manage family time. In respect of virtual contact with social workers / personal advisors, over 80% of young people and 90% of carers felt this was the same or better than their contact prior to lockdown, citing increased availability and convenience. However, some people felt there had been a reduction in the amount of contact, and this was particularly apparent for those who experienced a change of social worker over lockdown and did not have an opportunity to meet them. Experiences of home-schooling were also mixed, with some young people thriving due to the flexibility and one-to-one support from carers, and others struggling with the lack of routine and reduction in social contact. Carers also raised how the individualised attention supported some young people’s learning; however, some foster carers commented on the considerable responsibility and time commitments of home-schooling. The wellbeing of children and young people varied considerably over lockdown, with some enjoying the experience and increased free time, and others missing the structure of school and relationships with friends and family.

Last updated on hub: 08 December 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on care and contact: experiences in the first COVID-19 lockdown on foster carers and young people in their care: research summary

Research In Practice: Dartington

This report summarises the findings from three questionnaires, which were designed to explore the impact of lockdown on young people in and leaving care. The three questionnaires were designed for: young people in care or with care experience; carers; and birth parents. Many young people and carers described how lockdown had given them more quality time to spend with families or those they live with; over 90% of those in foster care reported relationships at home had improved or stayed the same during lockdown. There were mixed views on virtual family time. While some felt it was a more flexible and convenient option which gave young people more control over the situation, the lack of physical contact was an issue for some, as was the additional responsibility this placed on foster carers to help manage family time. In respect of virtual contact with social workers / personal advisors, over 80% of young people and 90% of carers felt this was the same or better than their contact prior to lockdown, citing increased availability and convenience. However, some people felt there had been a reduction in the amount of contact, and this was particularly apparent for those who experienced a change of social worker over lockdown and did not have an opportunity to meet them. Experiences of home-schooling were also mixed, with some young people thriving due to the flexibility and one-to-one support from carers, and others struggling with the lack of routine and reduction in social contact. Carers also raised how the individualised attention supported some young people’s learning; however, some foster carers commented on the considerable responsibility and time commitments of home-schooling. The wellbeing of children and young people varied considerably over lockdown, with some enjoying the experience and increased free time, and others missing the structure of school and relationships with friends and family.

Last updated on hub: 08 December 2020