COVID-19 resources

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Older adults and Covid 19: social justice, disparities, and social work practice

Journal of Gerontological Social Work

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought immense challenges to almost every country as it spreads throughout their populations. Foremost among these challenges is the heightened awareness of inequalities in society and the immense toll that the virus has on the most vulnerable. Globally, older people are the most at risk of getting the virus and dying from the it. Yet, although age is a significant contributor, it is its interaction with other factors, chronic conditions, poverty, and race that makes it a strong determinant. These factors reflect disparities and systemic social injustices that interact to increase the vulnerability of older adults. This paper discusses the many roles that social work, with its focus on social change, injustice, and vulnerable groups can intervene at many levels of practice and with specific groups to alleviate these fundamental disparities.

Last updated on hub: 31 August 2020

Older and ‘staying at home’ during lockdown: informal care receipt during the COVID-19 pandemic amongst people aged 70 and over in the UK


On 23 March 2020 the UK went into lockdown in an unprecedented step to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. Government advice at that time was that all older people aged 70 and over should stay at home and avoid any contact with non-household members. This study uses new data from the Understanding Society COVID 19 survey collected in April 2020, linked to Understanding Society Wave 9 data collected in 2018/19,in order to examine the extent of support received by individuals aged 70 and over in the first four weeks of lockdown from family, neighbours or friends not living in the same household, and how that support had changed prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The research distinguishes between different types of households as given with guidance not to leave home and not to let others into the household, those older people living alone or living only with a partner also aged 70 and above are more likely to be particularly vulnerable. The results highlight both positive news alongside causes for concern. The receipt of assistance with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living(IADLs), especially shopping, has increased particularly among those living alone or with an older partner, reflecting the rise of volunteering and community action during this period. However, not all older people reported a rise, and the majority reported ‘no change’, in the support received. Moreover, amongst those older people reporting that they required support with at least one Activity of Daily Living (ADL) task prior to the pandemic, around one-quarter reported receiving no care from outside the household and one-in-ten of those with two or more ADL care needs reported receiving less help than previously. Although formal home care visits have continued during the pandemic to those who have been assessed by the local government to be in need, it is important to acknowledge that some older people risk not having the support they need.

Last updated on hub: 17 November 2020

Older peoples’ sacrifice during COVID-19 pandemic

Working with Older People

Purpose: This paper aims to reflect on the roles that are socially attributed to older people in the COVID-19 pandemic. Design/methodology/approach: A discourse analysis of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for older people and news articles to explore their concepts about this population during COVID-19. Findings: The author’s interpretation suggests that the WHO provides a restrictive model of action for older people in the pandemic. The history of these people is not valued, and their actions are limited to the maintenance of biological life. This restriction can lead to sacrificial behavior models depicted in the news, demanding a reconceptualization of the notion of older people. Originality/value: The public model of older people is dangerous for this population during COVID19. The care for older people in this pandemic demands that we co-construct an active role with them for this crisis.

Last updated on hub: 29 December 2020

Older workers in the time of COVID-19: the senior community service employment program and implications for social work

Journal of Gerontological Social Work

It has long been the goal of many gerontological social work scholars to increase the ability and opportunity for people to be engaged in paid and unpaid work throughout the life course. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing and exacerbating the financial insecurity of many older adults. This paper reviews information related to older workers and how they might be affected by this pandemic and its aftermath, paying particular attention to the most socioeconomically and physically vulnerable older workers. The reserchers also offer first-hand experiences from our careers working with and conducting scholarship on older workers, paying particular attention to recent actions by many in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) network to provide paid sick leave to its low-income, older adult participants. The paper concludes with implications for social work scholarship and teaching, noting the uptick in technology use among older adults and the disparities that remain, as well as teaching that integrates discussions on the lifelong and cumulative effects of inequalities and marginalization and the need for additional researcher, student, and community collaborations.

Last updated on hub: 20 June 2020

One size does not fit all: moving towards delivering culturally competent services

Healthwatch Enfield

Findings of a survey to understand the impact of Coronavirus on local Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across Enfield. A key lesson from this report is that specific community groups used different services in different ways and as a result had different views about the support they need. It is also clear that the existing methods of cascade with a strong reliance on online communication do not work for everybody in BAME groups. A common issue is the lack of trust in the system, based on people’s previous experiences of giving feedback, only to see no action resulting from their efforts. The report finds that: 54% of respondents said that they have not received the help and support they need; a significant proportion of respondents prefer to access information through television or radio in their own language; 1 in 10 people said that accessing services online had stopped them from getting the help they need; 40% said that English is not their first language; 30% said that they need a translator to communicate during health appointments, so using a telephone to do this was a problem for them; 53% of people reported that they would not be having the flu vaccine this year, and their comments provides clear reasons for this decision. The report makes six recommendations to ensure that individuals from BAME communities in Enfield are able to access the care and support they need in the future, including developing and investing in culturally competent research which is informed by communities and address areas of concern to them.

Last updated on hub: 07 December 2020

Only connect: the impact of Covid-19 on older LGBT+ people

Opening Doors London

This report evaluates Opening Doors London’s (ODL) own response to the lockdown and explores the experiences and feelings of its members during this turbulent period. ODL provides information and support services specifically for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT+) people over 50 in the UK. The report is based on a survey of ODL members, with input from the staff and volunteers who swung into action to reconfigure the delivery of vital services in order to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT+ community. The survey has evidenced the extent of loneliness and social isolation experienced by a group of older LGBT+ people living in London, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown and worsened both physical and mental health. It also evidenced that the recalibration of ODL services meant that we were able to continue support for this vulnerable population. Findings include: 50% of respondents reported a negative impact on their psychological wellbeing; 18% felt much more depressed than usual; 23% experienced worsened physical health during lockdown; 37% felt more lonely than usual; 27% hardly ever or never had someone to talk to.

Last updated on hub: 18 November 2020

Opening schools safely in the COVID-19 era: school social workers’ experiences and recommendations: a research brief for policymakers

University of California

This policy brief presents data from a national survey of school social workers (SSWs) exploring the impacts of COVID-19 school disruptions in the United States. It highlights the need to address hunger, housing instability, health, mental health and other challenges that a high proportion of students are experiencing, especially low-income students. From a capacity perspective, SSWs in the study report that sizable proportions of students are suffering from difficulties due to discrimination, family discord, child abuse, language difficulties, and community violence; SSWs are called to perform the same Herculean tasks that face other educators and school staff in this pandemic but there are concerns that this work is being done with few resources, outside supports, or governmental guidance; greater supports, like the personal protective equipment (PPE) given to health care professions, are needed for educational staff and social workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic. The paper argues that given SSWs’ ecological view and historical commitment to under-served communities, their voices should be heard in planning school reopening. Based on the findings from the survey, the brief recommends the following actions: create a rapid-response team of school professionals from multiple fields to develop a systemic, national response to support schools; prioritise the response to the most hard-hit schools and communities; develop three evidence-driven national plans, one for in-person instruction, one for online, and one for a hybrid; provide additional supports and resources, including more trained social workers sent to the most stressed schools and communities.

Last updated on hub: 20 August 2020

Opening schools safely in the COVID-19 era: school social workers’ experiences and recommendations: technical report

University of California

This report summarises initial findings from a national survey of school social workers’ (SSWs) (n=1,275) practising across the United States. Findings highlight serious challenges facing schools, school staff, and students. Some of these challenges are specifically related to educational goals, but many are related to basic needs that are a prerequisite to academic and social emotional learning. Many SSWs reported having limited to no contact with some of their students because they couldn’t establish a connection with them during the shutdown; they expressed significant concerns about the motivation and engagement of the 81% of students with whom they did work; and reported that a majority of their students and families had profound, immediate, and urgent needs related to food insufficiency (62.4%), housing instability (42.8), health issues (61.6%), individualised student tutoring (62.3%), and mental health services (75.7%). While findings speak to the dynamism and creativity of SSWs in this pandemic, findings also revealed many troubling and serious issues that need immediate attention as schools plan how to re-open in the fall. Implications for professional development, district supports, university training, and a national effort to reconnect a potential “lost generation of students” are discussed and outlined. The report makes a series of recommendations, including a call to action for the various school social work organisations to join together to help SSWs and their school communities respond effectively as the pandemic continues to impact on the academic and social experience of children.

Last updated on hub: 20 August 2020

Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

Cabinet Office

This document describes the progress the UK has made to date in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and sets out the plans for moving to the next phase of its response to the virus. The strategy sets out a roadmap to easing existing measures and lift restrictions. It also provides details of the fourteen supporting programmes of work that will be delivered by the Government to achieve this. These include work to support care homes during the pandemic and strengthen the protections against infection of care home residents.

Last updated on hub: 08 June 2020

Our recovery plan for unpaid carers

Carers UK

This document sets out a framework for ensuring the need of carers and the people they care for are fully considered in any recovery plans in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic – whether they are by Government, the NHS, local authorities, organisations providing services to carers, businesses or employers. It focuses on the recognition of carers, equality and diversity; carers and their finances; health, wellbeing and prevention; carer identification; carers assessments as a prevention tool; services, care support and the NHS; food and hunger; investment in digital and tech; employment; and how to better support carers in the medium term.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020