COVID-19 resources

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"Don't ever call us unskilled again!'': learning from the experience of support workers during Covid-19


This report is based on responses from the Gr8 Support Covid-19 snapshot survey which invited support workers across the country to capture their experiences, thoughts, ideas and learning during the pandemic and share these with the nation. The report captures how support workers responded during the pandemic with thoughtfulness, creativity and dedication; some key messages and 'must haves' for moving forward beyond the pandemic; the plea of support workers to be valued and recognised as essential and highly skilled members of the social care workforce, not just now but as society moves forward. Key messages in responding to the pandemic emerging from this study include: supported living settings need clear, timely guidance; coronavirus tests must be available in supported living settings; support each person out of lockdown in the way that is right for them; recognise and support the essential role of support workers at this time; recognise and support the role of families and unpaid carers; society needs to act responsibly as lockdown eases; keep building on the community spirit; and get ready for a possible second wave. More broadly, the report calls for valuing and investing in social care; supporting people to regain and experience flourishing lives; increase the pay of support workers to reflect their highly skilled, complex and diverse roles; and ensure the profile of support workers is understood and valued.

Last updated on hub: 23 September 2020

"Oh, this is actually okay": understanding how one state child welfare training system adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: Training for new and existing child protection system (CPS) caseworkers is critical to developing and maintaining a competent workforce that effectively works towards safety, permanency, and wellbeing outcomes for children in the system. The COVID-19 pandemic required a shift to virtual training to continue training CPS professionals safely. Objective: The purpose of our project was to determine if there were differences in learning outcomes between learners who completed training in the usual delivery methods (Pre-COVID) and the fully virtual delivery methods (Post-COVID). We also sought to understand any factors that facilitated or impeded successful virtual training during the pandemic. Participants and setting: Caseworkers-in-training completed learning and satisfaction assessments through standard continuing quality improvement efforts. Training facilitators, course developers, and leadership completed qualitative interviews. Methods: We assessed quantitative differences in one US state in learner knowledge, satisfaction, and behaviors before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted a qualitative thematic analysis of interviews with training system employees. Results: Overall, there were limited differences in learner outcomes before and after the transition to virtual training delivery. Across the employee interviews, three main themes emerged: organizational culture facilitated the transition, external constraints caused challenges during the transition, and there were opportunities to evolve training practices positively. Conclusions: The shift to a virtual learning environment had little impact on learner knowledge or satisfaction. Employee perspectives indicated that the pre-COVID investment in organizational culture has substantial dividends for performance during the crisis.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

#LeftInLockdown – parent carers’ experiences of lockdown

Disabled Children’s Partnership

Findings from an online survey to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown on families with disabled children across the UK. The survey was promoted between 1 -17 May 2020 via social channels, direct emails to supporters of DCP charities, parent carer groups and networks. The survey covers the following areas: caring in lockdown, information and support, health and social care, education and learning; money and work; and what the government could do to help now and with the transition from lockdown. Parents report an increased caring load, both for themselves and for their disabled children's siblings; they feel exhausted, stressed, anxious and abandoned by society – in many cases, the support families previously received has now stopped. Many families are seeing declines in both mental and physical health – parents are particularly concerned about the pressure of children's behaviour and mental wellbeing; managing home-schooling; and what will happen to their children if they contract Covid-19. The little support that had previously been provided for families has often stopped altogether. Children's friendships, learning and communications, mental and physical health, and emotions and behaviour have all been negatively impacted. In addition, the lockdown is increasing financial pressures on families. Parents call for action now, including: acknowledgement and respect for their situation and the challenges they face; increased support – both financial and services; information and guidance more specifically at families with disabled children; flexibility – including from employers, schools, and around lockdown rules to enable family and friends to provide support.

Last updated on hub: 09 December 2020

#Morethanavisitor: families as “essential” care partners during COVID-19


The public health response to the current Coronavirus pandemic in long-term care communities, including assisted living, encompasses prohibiting visitors. This ban, which includes family members, has been criticized for being unfair, unhealthy, and unsafe. Against this backdrop, the author examines the roles family play in residents’ daily lives and care routines. This paper argues that classifying family as “visitors” rather than essential care partners overlooks their critical contributions and stems from taken-for-granted assumption about gender, families, and care work, and this paper demonstrates why families are more than visitors. Policies that ban family visits also reflect a narrow understanding of health that focuses on mitigating infection risk, but neglects overall health and well-being. This policy further stems from a limited comprehension of care relations. Research shows that banning family visits has negative consequences for residents, but also families themselves, and direct care workers. This paper argues that identifying ways to better understand and support family involvement is essential and demonstrate the utility of the Convoys of Care model for guiding the reconceptualization of family in long-term care research, policy, and practice during and beyond the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 25 February 2021

‘A silent epidemic of grief’: a survey of bereavement care provision in the UK and Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMJ Open

Objectives To investigate the experiences and views of practitioners in the UK and Ireland concerning changes in bereavement care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design Online survey using a snowball sampling approach. Setting Practitioners working in hospitals, hospices, care homes and community settings across the UK and Ireland. Participants Health and social care professionals involved in bereavement support. Interventions Brief online survey distributed widely across health and social care organisations. Results 805 respondents working in hospice, community, and hospital settings across the UK and Ireland completed the survey between 3 August and 4 September 2020. Changes to bereavement care practice were reported in: the use of telephone, video and other forms of remote support (90%); supporting people bereaved from non-COVID conditions (76%), from COVID-19 (65%) and people bereaved before the pandemic (61%); funeral arrangements (61%); identifying bereaved people who might need support (56%); managing complex forms of grief (48%) and access to specialist services (41%). Free-text responses demonstrated the complexities and scale of the impact on health and social care services, practitioners and their relationships with bereaved families, and on bereaved people. Conclusions: The pandemic has created major challenges for the support of bereaved people: increased needs for bereavement care, transition to remote forms of support and the stresses experienced by practitioners, among others. The extent to which services are able to adapt, meet the escalating level of need and help to prevent a ‘tsunami of grief’ remains to be seen. The pandemic has highlighted the need for bereavement care to be considered an integral part of health and social care provision.

Last updated on hub: 31 March 2021

‘All in this together?’ A commentary on the impact of COVID-19 on disability day services in Ireland

Disability and Society

Disability services in Ireland faced a financial crisis which was exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resumption of day services for people with disabilities placed the bulk of the financial burden on these disability services following initial non-committal governmental support. Disability day services closed in March 2020 with services operating at a much-reduced capacity since this date. This reduction of services has negatively impacted people with disabilities who were already experiencing inequalities in Irish society pre-COVID-19. Will the commitment of financial provision to support resumption of services positively impact on people with disabilities, or are historic inequalities faced by disabled people likely to continue in Ireland?

Last updated on hub: 16 June 2021

‘Getting back to normality seems as big of a step as going into lockdown’: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with early to middle stage dementia

Age and Ageing

People with dementia can experience shrinkage of their social worlds, leading to a loss of independence, control and reduced well-being. We used ‘the shrinking world’ theory to examine how the COVID 19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people with early to middle stage dementia and what longer-term impacts may result. Interviews were conducted with 19 people with dementia and a thematic analysis generated five themes: the forgotten person with dementia, confusion over government guidance, deterioration of cognitive function, loss of meaning and social isolation, safety of the lockdown bubble. The findings suggest that the pandemic has accelerated the ‘shrinking world’ effect and created tension in how people with dementia perceive the outside world. Participants felt safe and secure in lockdown but also missed the social interaction, cognitive stimulation and meaningful activities that took place outdoors. As time in lockdown continued, these individuals experienced a loss of confidence and were anxious about their ability to re-engage in the everyday practises that allow them to participate in society. We recommend ways in which the government, communities and organisations might counteract some of the harms posed by this shrinking world.

Last updated on hub: 26 May 2021

‘It's been adapted rather than impacted’: a qualitative evaluation of the impact of Covid‐19 restrictions on the positive behavioural support of people with an intellectual disability and/or autism

Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities

Background: We used a qualitative approach to explore the experiences of social care staff regarding the provision of positive behavioural support (PBS) to people with an intellectual disability at the height of the Covid‐19 restrictions. Method: We conducted semi‐structured interviews with 19 staff who had recently completed a PBS workforce development programme. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Three themes were identified in the context of the restrictions: The challenges to maintaining quality of life and PBS of the people being supported and staff attempts to overcome these; the ways in which PBS and behaviour support plans were implemented and the impact on behaviours that challenge; the ways in which PBS principles were applied at organisational levels to help to understand and address staff stress and distress. Conclusions: Overall, the staff identified many unexpected benefits of the restrictions. The results are discussed in the context of the study limitations.

Last updated on hub: 03 February 2021

‘Living in a Zoom world’: survey mapping how COVID‐19 is changing family therapy practice in the UK

Journal of Family Therapy

Following the COVID‐19 pandemic, psychological therapies rapidly moved online in mid‐2020. The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK (AFT) surveyed the attitudes and practices of systemic therapists in the UK in early October 2020, exploring members’ views and gathered information about ongoing needs. A sample of 312 people were included in a mixed methods analysis. In total, 65% of respondents felt their overall experience of using online video technology professionally was positive, further reflected in responses to two open‐ended questions. Detailed thematic analysis revealed that many positive comments were related to the practical advantages of online working, whilst many negative comments were related to technique and the therapeutic relationship. Possible respondent biases are discussed, and the implications of this change in practice are explored. It remains to be seen if this marks the beginning of a more permanent shift in our field as we explore the potential of new technologies.

Last updated on hub: 07 April 2021

‘Never more needed’ yet never more stretched: reflections on the role of the voluntary sector during the COVID-19 pandemic

Voluntary Sector Review

This research note presents the preliminary findings from a study into the mobilisation of volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic. Data gathered from 49 semi-structured interviews with representatives from local authorities (LAs), voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and mutual aid coordinators offer important insights into the state of the sector at this critical juncture, as we find ourselves in a third national lockdown. The role of the VCS in both strategic responses and on-the-ground community action has accorded it renewed respect and credibility. At the same time, the funding landscape for voluntary organisations is uncertain, demand for services is overwhelming, and staff and volunteers are suffering from fatigue. Our findings highlight the imperative of embedding the lessons of the first national lockdown in 2020 by valuing the sector’s contribution to the emergency effort and retaining its seat at the table, ensuring its role in economic and social recovery.

Last updated on hub: 13 April 2021

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