COVID-19 resources

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Report of the Social Care Taskforce's Older People and People Affected by Dementia Advisory Group

Department of Health and Social Care

This is the report of the Older People and People Affected by Dementia Advisory Group, established to make recommendations to feed into the work of the Social Care Sector COVID -19 Support Taskforce. The recommendations cover the following areas: restoring and sustaining contact with visitors in care homes; restoring care services and assessments; reinstating and sustaining community-based services and support; restoring and sustaining access to health care; ensuring effective safeguarding; and planning for and managing outbreaks. The report calls for all care settings and providers to have sufficient PPE; regular and ongoing testing of care staff and care recipients; the testing regime to be reliable and timely in its operation and resultant data to be shared with relevant NHS bodies and professionals, as well as providers; the flu vaccination programme to be unparalleled in its scope and ambition, and reach out to all social care staff and recipients in all settings, and informal carers too, supported by mass marketing; the financial resilience of care providers to be kept under constant review, with plans in place and regularly updated by CQC, central and local Government, to mitigate any significant market failure; total and available care capacity should be published weekly; and the ongoing challenges in data sharing and data governance between health and social care settings must be resolved by September 2020.

Last updated on hub: 21 September 2020

Research briefing one: child protection, social distancing and risks from COVID-19

University of Birmingham

This briefing shares some emerging findings about the challenges of achieving social distancing during child protection work, especially on home visits, and how children and families and social workers can be kept safe from COVID-19. The data shows that social workers, family support workers and their managers have worked creatively in addressing the complex practical and moral dilemmas they have faced in implementing social distancing guidance and in aspiring to best practice in helping children and families. The briefing focuses in particular on the implication of going into homes, the impossibility of social distancing, and virtual home visits; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use and dilemmas; and the professional values that guide social workers’ decisions about whether or not to conduct in person visits, including selflessness, public accountability and leadership. On the basis of the very early findings from this research, the briefing advises that social work staff should be told that they do not have to take any personal risks they do not feel comfortable with; staff doing visits inside family homes need to be provided with full PPE while other creative ways of seeing children, like in gardens, on walks, and on virtual visits, need to continue; social work leaders and managers at all levels need to address organisational anxieties by constantly being clear with frontline staff that how their practice and record keeping is evaluated will take full account of the constraints placed on their work by COVID-19 and social distancing.

Last updated on hub: 30 June 2020

Research briefing three: digital social work – the emergence of hybrid practice during the COVID-19 pandemic

University of Birmingham

This briefing examines emerging findings showing where and how digital social work practices have played a useful role in child protection work during the COVID-19 pandemic. It explores challenges encountered in the use of digital technologies and highlights circumstances in which newly emerging hybrid digital-physical practices help keep children safe or offer additional benefits for social workers and the families they support. Topics covered include: transitioning to the digital; video calls disrupting social workers’ expectations of themselves and their practice; learning to work digitally; video calls as face-to-face visits; video calls as a way to build relationships; hybrid digital-physical social work and possible hybrid practice futures; and digital inequalities. The study shows that digital social work and the hybrid practices it generates can provide a number of benefits. This might usefully be taken forward as part of an expanded set of techniques for support, communication and evaluation in social work, whereby their use is tailored to families on a case-specific basis. Yet these options need to be considered in the context of the ever deepening social and economic inequalities that characterise the UK at the moment, to ensure that they are designed in such a way that is equitable, fair and inclusive.

Last updated on hub: 12 October 2020

Research briefing two: disruption and renewal of social work and child protection during COVID-19 and beyond

University of Birmingham

This briefing shares some emerging findings about how COVID-19 has disrupted child protection and led children’s social care to improvise in creative ways that, if sustained post- pandemic, could renew practice and provide improved outcomes for children and families. The briefing focuses in particular on the challenges of social distancing; ways of being effective and achieving non-physical closeness to some families; hybrid practice – integrating face-to-face, digital and humane practice; the changing use of time – developing non-traditional ways of keeping in contact with families and children through various formats; doorstep and garden visits; mobile practice – e.g. going on walks with young people and sometimes parents and using parks and other open spaces near family homes to walk, play or just be together. While some such work has been enabled by conditions that are unlikely to persist – such as reduced rates of referral to assessment teams – data collected during this period yield insights that have the potential to renew policy and practice over the longer-term and provide improved outcomes for children and families.

Last updated on hub: 21 September 2020

Research watch: Coronavirus (COVID-19), mental health and social inclusion in the UK and Ireland

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

Purpose: This paper aims to examine recent papers on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, including implications for some of the groups of people already less included in society. Design/methodology/approach: A search was carried out for recent papers on mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings: Two papers describe surveys of adults in the UK and Irish Republic in the first days of lockdown. Low income and loss of income were associated with anxiety and depression. These surveys could not examine distress in Black and minority ethnicities, who have higher death rates from COVID-19. Two surveys of children and young people report distress and what can help. One paper summarises a host of ways in which the pandemic may affect mental well-being in different groups, and what might help. Another calls for research to understand how to protect mental well-being in various groups. Originality/value: These five papers give a sense of the early days of the pandemic, especially in the UK. They also highlight the needs of some specific groups of people, or the need to find out more about how these groups experience the pandemic. They suggest some ways of trying to ensure that everyone has the best chance to thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 19 November 2020

Research with older people in a world with COVID-19: identification of current and future priorities, challenges and opportunities

Age and Ageing

Older people are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a profound impact on research as well as clinical service delivery. This commentary identifies key challenges and opportunities in continuing to conduct research with and for older people, both during and after the current pandemic. It shares opinions from responders to an international survey, a range of academic authors and opinions from specialist societies. Priorities in COVID-19 research include its specific presentation in older people, consequences for physical, cognitive and psychological health, treatments and vaccines, rehabilitation, supporting care homes more effectively, the impact of social distancing, lockdown policies and system reconfiguration to provide best health and social care for older people. COVID-19 research needs to be inclusive, particularly involving older people living with frailty, cognitive impairment or multimorbidity, and those living in care homes. Non-COVID-19 related research for older people remains of critical importance and must not be neglected in the rush to study the pandemic. Profound changes are required in the way that we design and deliver research for older people in a world where movement and face-to-face contact are restricted, but we also highlight new opportunities such as the ability to collaborate more widely and to design and deliver research efficiently at scale and speed.

Last updated on hub: 28 October 2020

Resilience across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic

Mental Health Foundation

This research briefing looks at resilience – the ability to cope with the normal stress of life as well as being able to bounce back from crises – across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic. The paper explores the evidence on resilience from the ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’ study, which, since mid-March 2020, has undertaken regular, repeated surveys of more than 4,000 adults who are representative of people aged 18+ and living in the UK. The paper shows that thus far, many people in the UK have managed relatively well throughout the pandemic and looks at their ways of coping. It also examines some of the potentially harmful coping behaviours people have engaged in during the pandemic. Finally, it suggests ways that the UK Government and devolved administrations could support people’s resilience so that they can better weather the storm of the current pandemic. Key messages include: most people (64%) say they are coping well with the stress of the pandemic; of those who have experienced stress due to the pandemic, almost nine out of ten (87%) are using at least one coping strategy (going for a walk, spending time in green spaces, and staying connected with others); some people are resorting to potentially harmful ways of coping, including increased alcohol consumption, substance misuse, and over-eating, putting their mental and physical health at greater risk. While each nation has made available mental health literacy resources in response to COVID-19, this study’s findings point to where more policy and investment could be targeted to support people and communities to remain resilient in the face of local or national restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 19 October 2020

Resilience during uncertainty? Greater social connectedness during COVID‐19 lockdown is associated with reduced distress and fatigue

British Journal of Health Psychology

Background: Social connections are crucial for our health and well‐being. This is especially true during times of high uncertainty and distress, such as during the COVID‐19 lockdown. This period was characterized by unprecedented physical distancing (often communicated as social distancing) measures resulting in significant changes to people’s usual social lives. Given the potential effects of this disruption on people’s well‐being, it is crucial to identify factors which are associated with negative health outcomes, and conversely, those that promote resilience during times of adversity. Aims: This study examined the relationship between individuals’ levels of social connectedness during lockdown and self‐reported stress, worry, and fatigue. Method: Survey data were collected from 981 individuals in a representative sample of Austrian citizens. Data collection occurred during the last week of a six‐week nationwide lockdown due to the COVID‐19 pandemic. The final sample consisted of 902 participants. Participants were asked to complete validated questionnaires to assess levels of social connectedness as well as measures of perceived stress, worry - both general and COVID‐19 specific - and symptoms of fatigue during the previous two weeks. Results: The results demonstrate that greater social connectedness during the lockdown period was associated with lower levels of perceived stress, as well as general and COVID‐19‐specific worries. Furthermore, this study found a negative relationship between fatigue and social connectedness, which was mediated by feelings of stress, general worries, and COVID‐19‐specific worries - respectively, indicating that individuals with smaller network sizes, who were highly distressed during the pandemic, were also likely to report feeling more fatigued. Conclusion: The findings highlight the important role that social connections play in promoting resilience by buffering against negative physical and mental health outcomes, particularly in times of adversity in times of adversity.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Resilient health and care: learning the lessons of COVID-19 in the English NHS

Institute for Public Policy Research

This analysis considers why the English health care system has struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how to ensure it is given the capacity, resources, and flexibility to adapt to shocks when they emerge. This entails investing not only in the NHS and acute care services but also in community care and the social care sector. Through a rapid review of the international data, the analysis identifies three key macro-themes: capacity, resourcing and population health. Across these themes, it shows that the UK system was in a poor position to resist a health shock, compared to the international standard. The report calls on the Government to take the opportunity to create a system where resilience is considered efficient, where long-term thinking is encouraged, and where resources are allocated to deliver on it. To this end, English health policy might borrow from economic policy’s 'fiscal rules' and introduce six 'health and care resilience rules'. These are: capacity rule - the Government should allocate catch-up funding in the community and social care sector, to build their capacity as primary sources of care; staffing rule - the Government must expand the People Plan process, by allocating funding, including social care, and extending the time horizon covered to ten years; modernisation rule - the Government should aim to meet international standards of adoption and spread of technology; sustainable funding rule - ensuring the NHS has sufficient revenue and capital; population health rule - focusing on prevention; and health inequality rule - the Government should commit to cut inequality by at least 10 per cent by the end of the parliament.

Last updated on hub: 05 August 2020

Resources to help digital enabling

National Care Forum

A series of simple practical resources – 15 crib sheets – to help care providers make the best use of digital technology for their residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The crib sheets are designed to be printed and laminated by care settings for multiple use, but they may be just as useful to help anyone in their own home, as well as carers and families and friends. The sheets are grouped into three themes, covering basic skills, connectivity and wellbeing and resilience.

Last updated on hub: 12 October 2020

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