COVID-19 resources

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As if expendable: the UK government’s failure to protect older people in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic

Amnesty International UK

This report examines the impact of decisions, policies, and decision-making processes at the national and local level on the human rights of older people in care homes in England in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is based on interviews with 18 relatives of older people who either died in care homes or are currently living in care homes in different parts of England; nine owners, managers and staff of care homes in different parts of the country; eight staff and volunteers working in non-profit organisations advocating on behalf of care home residents and staff; three members of parliament and local authorities, and four legal and medical professionals. Among the government’ failures, the report highlights discharge of patients from hospitals into care homes; denial of access to hospitals and other medical services; misuse of ‘do not attempt resuscitation’ (DNAR) forms; inadequate access to testing; insufficient PPE and poor PPE guidance; poor, late and contradictory guidance; and failure to respond to gaps in staffing. The report also discusses the suspension of visits and failure of oversight, including the failure to wear PPE, challenges of remote communications and the devastating impact of prolonged isolation. The report argues that the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic violated the human rights of older people in care homes in England and that remedial action must be taken without delay to ensure that mistakes are not repeated. It calls for a full independent public inquiry to consider the overall pandemic preparations and response in adult social care and care homes, including a full investigation into actions taken to ensure a comprehensive and timely cross-government response for social care and a review of the adequacy of the funding made available to support adult social care services and care homes in responding to the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 05 October 2020

Robotics in care: a moment of opportunity: how robotic technology can transform global social care delivery

PA Consulting Group

This report explores how robotic technology offers an opportunity to transform social care in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic has raised the prominence of technology in care, meaning many workers now have direct experience of how it can help them do their jobs better, faster and with reduced risk. The report argues that now is the time to rethink and reset traditional care service delivery and leaders must adopt a bolder, more ambitious approach to trialling and deploying robotic technologies to help meet the social care needs of vulnerable residents beyond the crisis. The range of technologies available to leaders includes: collaborative robots (‘cobots’) – designed to be used in conjunction with human; semi-humanoid robots – smart robots with human-like characteristics to facilitate social interaction with people living with dementia or Asperger’s; robotic animals – which can serve as companions to people living with dementia or learning disabilities; digital assistants – voice-controlled devices and services that support people with care needs at home; medicine robots – automated medicine dispensers; and automated call services – to check on vulnerable people, helping local authorities remain in touch and respond sooner when a need emerges. The report describes three practical steps leaders can take to capitalise on robotic technology in earnest: define your strategy based on human outcomes; trial technologies with the aim of deploying at scale; and collaborate with the wider social care ecosystem.

Last updated on hub: 05 October 2020

International policy responses and early management of threats posed by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to social care

Journal of Long-Term Care

Context: People with prior health conditions are susceptible to severe and sometimes fatal outcomes of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease COVID-19. The protection of the capacity of systems for social care was thus an important consideration for governments in the early stages of the global pandemic. Objectives: This paper reports and discusses the results of a rapid review of international early policy responses for the protection of social care systems after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that SARS-CoV-2 had evolved into a pandemic. Literature was collected in March 2020. Method: Rapid online review of government responses to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic using official government statements and press reports from 13 countries. Findings: The analysis of early responses in and about social care to the pandemic suggested an initial focus on avoiding the outbreak of the virus in care homes, with first steps being to limit visitors in these contexts and considering ways to isolate residents with symptoms or a confirmed infection. Responses to protect people receiving social care in their homes and schemes to support informal or family carers were less prominent. Limitations: Only publications in the public domain and in local languages of the 13 countries were considered for this analysis. It is possible that further strategies and responses were not made available to the public and are therefore not included, which limits this article’s scope for analysis. Implications: The findings of this article can support reflection on the trajectory of policy responses to the threats that SARS-CoV-2 poses to social care. They can thereby potentially inform planning and policy responses for enhanced pandemic preparedness and stronger social care systems in the future.

Last updated on hub: 04 October 2020

Webinar recording: COVID-19, DoLS, and Best Interests

Social Care Institute for Excellence

This webinar was chaired by Baroness Ilora Finlay and the technical host was Prof Wayne Martin and discussed COVID-19, DoLS, and best interests.

Last updated on hub: 01 October 2020

Learning from lockdown: priorities for the future

Centre for Ageing Better

This report brings together research and insight on the impact of COVID-19 on people approaching later life. It gives guidance for central government, local government and other private, public and voluntary sector organisations on how to significantly improve the prospects of those currently in their 50s and 60s, who make up around a quarter of the population in England. It looks specifically at how to build health resilience, including in relation to weight control, physical activity and healthy homes; and how to build economic activity, focusing on tailoring unemployment support, retaining and retraining older workers, and redesigning town centres and the high street. Arguing that these twin and interconnected aims of health resilience and economic growth should be at the heart of recovery, the report suggests ways to ‘lock in’ the positives seen during the pandemic, based on sustaining community participation; and bridging the digital divide. It makes a case for ensuring people approaching later life are part of the recovery success story – in good, flexible work, enjoying better health, in homes that keep them safe, and connected to their communities. Action taken now to support this group will have long-lasting benefits, both for them and for future generations.

Last updated on hub: 01 October 2020

Worst hit: dementia during coronavirus

Alzheimer's Society

This report brings together evidence from a wide range of sources to shine a light on the impact of Covid-19 on people who have dementia and those who care for them. It evidences the disproportionate death toll on people with dementia; the surge in loneliness and isolation; and the current inability of the health and care services to cope with the consequences of the pandemic. The report reveals that the most direct and devastating impact of Covid-19 on people affected by dementia is the high death rate – between 1 March and 30 June there were 50,335 Covid-19 related deaths in England and Wales. Furthermore, the restrictions on social contact put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 had an impact across the population, but were particularly detrimental for people with dementia – for many people with dementia living at home, social distancing guidelines combined with the reduction or cancellation of home care services meant they were left without vital social interaction and support; in residential settings, the cancellation of visits, group activities and communal dining added to the isolation that people experienced. Finally, the rerouting of resources for health and social care towards acute settings and the inability of services to operate as normal due to lockdown measures left people affected by dementia without vital support. The report calls for care (including specialist dementia care) to be universal and free at the point of use and makes specific recommendations to help mitigate against the effects of Covid-19 as winter approaches; and to provide tailored support for people affected by dementia, including recognising the key role that informal carers play in the lives of people living with dementia.

Last updated on hub: 01 October 2020

Crises collide: women and Covid-19: examining gender and other equality issues during the Coronavirus outbreak

Women’s Budget Group

This report outlines issues relating to women and Covid-19 in the UK and makes recommendations for gender-sensitive improvements to the UK Government’s response. It focuses on the implications of the pandemic for women in relation to public health, social care, economic inequalities, social security, housing, violence against women and girls, the justice system and human rights. 73% of Covid-19 critical care cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are men. However, growing evidence shows that due to pre-existing gender and other inequalities, different groups of women in the UK will experience Covid-19 in specific ways in the short, medium and long term. The report finds that women are the majority of health and care workers and are the majority of workers with highest exposure to Covid-19; young women are disproportionately likely to work in the sectors that have been hit hardest by the lock-down; women are more likely to be low paid and in insecure employment and are the majority of people living in poverty and female-headed households are more likely to be poor; pre Covid-19, women were more likely to struggle with debt and bills; on average, women carry out 60% more unpaid work than men; women are more likely to experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse and are the majority (67%) of people living in homelessness.

Last updated on hub: 01 October 2020

Childhood in the time of Covid

Children’s Commissioner for England

Examining the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on children, this report provides a roadmap for what should be done to help them recover from their experiences of the last six months and the ongoing crisis. It focuses on specific aspects and settings that affect children’s experiences, including: education; children with special educational needs and disabilities; social care; looked after children and care leavers; health; early years; youth justice; housing; and family life. Even before the crisis struck, there were 2.2 million vulnerable children living in risky home situations in England, including nearly 800,000 children living with domestic abuse and 1.6 million living with parents with severe mental health conditions. The report warns these numbers are likely to have swelled, fuelled by families locked down in close quarters for weeks and months, and an emerging economic crisis adding pressures on family finances. Some of the most vulnerable children, including children in care, children in custody and children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities have seen their rights actively downgraded at a time when protections should have been increased, not weakened. The report makes a number of recommendations, calling for a comprehensive recovery package for children to mitigate the damage caused by the crisis thus far – through greater investment in early help services, targeting resources to reduce educational disparities between disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers, increasing focus on pastoral care, and pushing back as far as possible next year’s summer exams; and for children to be put at the heart of planning for further lockdowns, local or national – ensuring children’s rights and protections are upheld, ensuring respite services for disabled children and their families continue to operate, and reviewing the rule of six over time with a view to exempting children under 12.

Last updated on hub: 01 October 2020

NHS Reset: a new direction for health and care

NHS Confederation

This report summarises the insights from an engagement exercise with health and care stakeholders, including a survey of more than 250 leaders from across the NHS, as part of NHS Reset, an NHS Confederation campaign to help reset the way the system plans, commissions and delivers health and care in the aftermath of the Covid-19. The report focuses on the key challenges that the health and care system faces, including: health inequalities; the health and care workforce; funding and capacity; integration and system working; letting local leaders lead; and social care. In relation to the latter, the report argues that ensuring the effective functioning of the NHS will require a reform of social care, including stable and adequate funding, a social care long term plan that runs parallel to and supports the NHS Long Term Plan, a well-resourced and trained workforce, and outcomes-based commissioning. The report posits that five factors will be fundamental to achieving a sustainable health and care system. These are: honesty and realism – government investment to support new ways of working that will enable it to fully and safely restore services, as well as the understanding of the public while services adjust and deal with a large backlog of patients needing care; extra funding; a lighter, leaner culture – empowering local leaders and clinicians to adopt more agile ways of working; integrating health and care; and tackling health inequalities – through a radical and conscious shift towards a strategy based on population health.

Last updated on hub: 01 October 2020

A care-led recovery from Coronavirus: the case for investment in care as a better post-pandemic economic stimulus than investment in construction

Women’s Budget Group

This briefing sets out why much-needed investment in care would promote employment, reduce the gender employment gap and would be a first step in building a resilient, sustainable and more equal economy. It argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has catalysed a revaluation of care, health and employment structures, exposing pre-existing problems, creating an opportunity for transformative change and an economic stimulus that focuses on care. The report finds that investment in care has the potential to mitigate the worst employment effects of the Coronavirus recession. Specifically, investing in care would creates 2.7 times as many jobs as the same investment in construction – 6.3 as many for women and 10% more for men; increasing the numbers working in care to 10% of the employed population, as in Sweden and Denmark, and giving all care workers a pay rise to the real living wage would create 2 million jobs, increasing overall employment rates by 5% points and decreasing the gender employment gap by 4% points; 50% more can be recouped by the Treasury in direct and indirect tax revenue from investment in care than in construction; and investment in care is greener than in construction, producing 30% less greenhouse gas emissions – a care-led recovery is a green led recovery.

Last updated on hub: 30 September 2020

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