COVID-19 resources

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Rapid report: how mental health social workers are responding to the coronavirus pandemic

Think Ahead

This report looks at how mental health services, and the social workers within these teams, are responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Based on a series of interviews with mental health social workers, the report explains the challenges services and professionals are facing and how mental health teams are transforming their work. Key findings show how services are reconfiguring roles to prepare for increased pressures, the challenges of digital contact with service users, the introduction of new forms of support for service users and the need to support staff welfare. The report also highlights examples of good practice from across the country.

Last updated on hub: 23 April 2020

Rapid research COVID-19: how will communities respond to and recover from this crisis?

Local Trust

This research briefing connects communities currently responding to COVID-19 to others who have faced major disasters such as epidemics, floods and wars. It reflects on the literature and describes how communities forge new bonds and find common purpose, and identifies factors that may shape how well they fare during the urgent period of crisis in recovery. It highlights the importance of existing social networks and shared social identity which can lead to the quick formation of new groups. It identifies key questions, including how new COVID-19 support networks might be strengthened and sustained. The briefing is the first in a series to share insights from research to explore how local communities are responding as the coronavirus crisis. The research is led by a team of researchers coordinated by the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham.

Last updated on hub: 05 May 2020

Rapid response guidance note: vaccination and mental capacity (first update)

39 Essex Chambers

A general discussion examining to the legal position in relation to testing for COVID-19, especially as testing (a) starts to be more generally available; and (b) is increasingly been rolled out as mandatory in certain settings. It primarily relates to the position in England in relation to those aged 18 and above; specific advice should be sought in respect of Wales and those under 18.

Last updated on hub: 12 January 2021

Rapid return of children in residential care to family as a result of COVID-19: Scope, challenges, and recommendations

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some governments have mandated that residential care providers rapidly return children and youth to family. Objective: The goal of the present study was to better understand the scope and characteristics of rapid return, and to provide data-informed recommendations for service providers working with this population. Participants and setting: Representatives from 67 non-government organizations (NGOs) providing residential care that were government-mandated to rapidly return children and youth to family completed a brief online survey. They collectively serve 12,494 children in 14 nations. Methods: Using a mixed methods design, results examined 1) characteristics of the rapid return mandate, 2) preparation received by children and families, 3) support services provided since the return, and 4) primary concerns for children and families. Results: Data revealed that rapid return was characterized by compressed timelines that did not allow for adequate child and family assessment and preparation. However, all respondents indicated they believed at least some families would be able to remain intact safely with appropriate support. Primary concerns for children and families related to unresolved antecedents to separation, lack of economic capacity, limited monitoring, and lack of access to education. Conclusions: Based on the findings, 9 recommendations were made for service providers working with children and families that have been rapidly reunified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 13 November 2020

Rapid review for care homes in relation to Covid-19 in Wales

Welsh Government

This rapid review aimed to ensure that the lessons from best practice are learned and shared by Local Authorities and Health Boards who were involved in working with care homes during the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020. The work for the review has included reading some research studies, reading many submitted reports by Health and Social Care leaders from Wales and a series of interviews with stakeholders including a number of Care Home managers and owners. The report includes sections summarising the context for care homes, the initial impact of the virus and the response, and the best practices that were found in helping care homes to address the pandemic. The final section draws together a set of considerations that health and social care partners could use to assist them in completing their action plans for the winter. The review highlights the importance for health and care to work in partnership with care home managers to ensure that: every care home has an effective Infection Control Plan that is put into place; every care home has an effective plan for business continuity that includes ensuring that there are staff available to meet residents’ needs; every care home should be supported to ensure there are meaningful and helpful day to day activities for residents and that the wellbeing of both staff and residents are taken into account in all the decisions that are made; every care home has the right protective equipment; every care home has access to tests for residents and staff to know who may have the virus; and every care home has good access to primary health services including GPs.

Last updated on hub: 27 October 2020

Rapid review of the evidence on impacts of visiting policies in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic

International Long-term Care Policy Network

This is a pre-print article (not yet peer-reviewed). The researchers carried out a rapid review of evidence to address three questions: What is the evidence on the impact of visitors in terms of infections in care homes? What is the evidence on the impact of closing care homes to visitors on the wellbeing of residents? and What has been the impact of restricting visits on quality of care? Findings: the review found no scientific evidence that visitors to care homes introduced COVID-19 infections, however during the peak of the pandemic most countries did not allow visiting and there are some anecdotal reports attributing infections to visitors before restrictions. The review also found that there is increasing evidence that care home residents experienced greater depression and loneliness and demonstrated more behavioural disturbance during the period that included visitor bans. In addition, there is evidence of substantial care provision by unpaid carers and volunteers in care homes prior to the pandemic, hence visiting restrictions may have resulted in reductions in quality of care or additional tasks for care home staff. Conclusions: Given that there were already low rates of social interactions among residents and loneliness before the COVID-19 pandemic, the evidence reviewed suggests that visiting restrictions are likely to have exacerbated this further. While there is no scientific evidence identifying visitors as the source of infections this is likely to reflect that most care homes did not allow visitors during the initial peaks of the pandemic. A pilot re-opening homes to visits under strict guidelines did not result in any infections. Allowing visitors in facilities where there are no COVID-19 cases is important to support resident wellbeing. Safeguards to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection have been described, including visits through windows/glass, outdoor visits, and well-ventilated indoor spaces, screening of visitors, use of masks and other PPE and hand hygiene and cleaning. In addition, it is important to recognize and support the provision of unpaid care, particularly for people who pre-COVID had a history of regular visiting to provide care (e.g. feeding, grooming, emotional support). They should be classified as essential workers, provided training and PPE, and be allowed to visit regularly and provide care, interacting as closely with residents as staff.

Last updated on hub: 02 November 2020

Rapid review update 1: what risk factors are associated with COVID-19 outbreaks and mortality in long-term care facilities and what strategies mitigate risk?

McMaster University

This rapid review was produced to support public health decision makers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It seeks to identify, appraise, and summarise emerging research evidence to support evidence-informed decision making. The review is based on the most recent research evidence available at the time of release. A previous version was completed on October 16, 2020. This updated version includes evidence available up to November 30, 2020 to answer the question: What risk factors are associated with COVID-19 outbreaks and mortality in LTC facilities and what strategies mitigate risk? Across studies, incidence in the surrounding community was found to have the strongest association with COVID-19 infections and/or outbreaks in LTC settings. Several resident-level factors including, racial/ethnic minority status, older age, male sex, receipt of Medicaid or Medicare were associated with risk of COVID-19 infections, outbreaks and mortality; severity of impairment was associated with infections and outbreaks, but not mortality. At the organisational level, increased staffing, particularly Registered Nurse (RN) staffing was consistently associated with reduced risk of COVID-19 infections, outbreaks and mortality while for-profit status, facility size/density and movement of staff between facilities was consistently associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infections, outbreaks and mortality. Most guideline recommendations include surveillance, monitoring and evaluation of staff and resident symptoms, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Other interventions demonstrating some effect on decreased infection rates within syntheses and a small number of single studies include promotion of hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning measures, social distancing, and cohorting. Technological platforms and tools (e.g., digital contact tracing, apps, heat maps) are being developed and show potential for decreased transmission through efficient case and/or contact identification that further informs infection control planning strategies.

Last updated on hub: 22 December 2020

Rapid review: contact

What Works Centre for Children's Social Care

Examines the evidence on how contact can be managed virtually and the implications for foster carers, adoptive parents, family members and children. In the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is a desire by local authorities to ensure that contact between family members is maintained, but that, wherever possible, it does not pose an increased infection risk. The findings suggest that increased contact between children and relatives could be beneficial or detrimental – more clear evidence is needed on this and social workers should assess on a case-by-case basis; contact via technology between service users and social workers may be two-way, whereby service users may also reach out at times that are convenient for them – however, the social worker should also establish boundaries to avoid burnout and maintain professionalism; there may need to be more thought given around enabling families to facilitate video-calling during these times, particularly to people who are at risk of being technology-constrained; children placed in residential or foster care may be more likely to be separated from siblings, and therefore facilitating contact for these groups of children and young people should be prioritised.

Last updated on hub: 08 July 2020

Rapid review: home visits and remote social work

What Works Centre for Children's Social Care

Summarises the evidence on how children’s social workers can safely conduct necessary home visits during the COVID-19 epidemic. While there is a limited body of research on home visiting in social work, the findings of this rapid review indicate that: therapeutic work can be conducted effectively remotely, but this is skilled work requiring training; relationship quality is an important determinant of the success of online work, and so should be considered alongside other risk/protective factors; video communication is likely to be more successful where possible than telephone conversations, as fewer non-verbal cues are lost; where home visits occur, they will be improved by clear decision making and the empowerment of social workers; professional boundaries and standards may be challenged by remote working with families, and supervision by managers should consider this.

Last updated on hub: 08 July 2020

Rapid review: supervision

What Works Centre for Children's Social Care

A review of the literature on how supervision in child and family social work can be managed virtually and on the resulting implications for social workers, managers, children and families. Virtual supervision in social work is a relatively new and unfamiliar concept but the current COVID-19 pandemic has meant that it is now increasingly used as social work teams adapt. Behavioural science literature on virtual communications offers key insights, some of which are applicable to the context of virtual supervision, which include: management style matters (transformational leadership that motivates the workforce and generate new ideas); paying attention to building trust in a virtual setting; there may be gains to creative brainstorming – ideas and creative responses are generated more frequently in a virtual team setting, perhaps due to the less personal context; confirmation bias – the tendency to favour information that confirms one’s own values and beliefs – can be greater in virtual settings. The evidence appears to identify a number of approaches, actions and leadership styles that can promote effectiveness in virtual supervision. These include: encouraging the inclusion of preference-challenging information and structured conflict in decision-making; holding case discussions separate from the action-orientated, decision-making part of supervision to help find consensus on solutions; promoting employees’ competence, autonomy and relatedness; exploring opportunities for maintaining informal forms of supervision and ‘weak ties’ that could be lost in a virtual setting; and promoting trust.

Last updated on hub: 17 June 2020