COVID-19 resources

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Rapid review: contact

What Works 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 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 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

Rapid review: 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 includes evidence available up to October 5, 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. 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 systematic review: the impact of social isolation and loneliness on the mental health of children and adolescents in the context of COVID-19

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Objective: Disease containment of COVID-19 has necessitated widespread social isolation. This review aimed to establish what is known about how loneliness and disease containment measures impact on the mental health in children and adolescents. Method: This rapid review, searched MEDLINE, PsycInfo, and Web of Science for articles published between January 1, 1946, and March 29, 2020. Of the articles, 20% were double screened using predefined criteria, and 20% of data was double extracted for quality assurance. Results: A total of 83 articles (80 studies) met inclusion criteria. Of these, 63 studies reported on the impact of social isolation and loneliness on the mental health of previously healthy children and adolescents (n = 51,576; mean age 15.3 years). In all, 61 studies were observational, 18 were longitudinal, and 43 were cross-sectional studies assessing self-reported loneliness in healthy children and adolescents. One of these studies was a retrospective investigation after a pandemic. Two studies evaluated interventions. Studies had a high risk of bias, although longitudinal studies were of better methodological quality. Social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety at the time at which loneliness was measured and between 0.25 and 9 years later. Duration of loneliness was more strongly correlated with mental health symptoms than intensity of loneliness. Conclusion: Children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as enforced isolation continues. Clinical services should offer preventive support and early intervention where possible and be prepared for an increase in mental health problems.

Last updated on hub: 07 January 2021

Reaching up, down, in, and around: couple and family coping during the corona virus pandemic

Family Process

The worldwide corona virus (COVID‐19) has had profound effects on all aspects of life: physical health, the ability to travel locally or to more distant destinations, material and financial resources, and psychosocial wellbeing. Couples, families, and communities and individual persons in those relationships have struggled to cope with emerging depression, anxiety, and trauma, and the rise of relational conflict. This article, suggests that the existential nature of the pandemic’s challenges require more than just the usual psychosocial interventions. This paper proposes a taxonomy of responses to foster coping and resilience – “Reaching Up, Down, In, and Around”. “Reaching Up” includes accessing spiritual, religious, and ethical values. “Reaching Down” includes ideas and practices that foster a revised relationship with the Earth and its resources, and that engage families to participate in activities that aid the Earth’s recovery from decades of human‐caused damage. “Reaching In” represents a turn towards experiences available in the mind and in shared minds in relationships that provide pleasure, excitement, joy, and peace, given that external sources of these emotions are of limited availability due to quarantine. “Reaching Around” involves reframing the mandate for “social distancing” as fostering social connection and support while maintaining physical distancing. The challenges for family therapists, whose practices are confined largely to online therapy, and who are struggling with the same fears and constraints as those persons they are attempting to help, are also discussed.

Last updated on hub: 17 September 2020

React, respond, renew: responding to the workforce challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and looking to the future

Local Government Association

This paper provides a summary of how COVID-19 initially affected local government from a workforce perspective, including the social care sector. It argues that there is a critical need to ensure a meaningful ’parity of esteem’ between the 1.5 million social care workforce and their counterparts in the NHS. The report sets the scene for the workforce having to respond, within an extremely short timescale, to a completely new way of working. It provides a narrative to the shared experience of working through the pandemic in 2020. The report flags the challenges and considerations for returning to a physical workplace; outlines the psychological impact of COVID-19; captures the issues councils might want to explore in considering renewal and provide links for various tips and guides; touches on recruitment and retention challenges, how COVID-19 might change what we mean by 'leadership', and sets out how equality, diversity and inclusion will run throughout these issues; and captures the issues and questions that councils might be asking themselves or might want to ask themselves, following this challenging period of time.

Last updated on hub: 24 September 2020

Readying the NHS and adult social care in England for COVID-19

National Audit Office

This report sets out the evidence around government’s progress in preparing the NHS and social care for the COVID-19 outbreak. The report examines the facts relating to the coordination of the NHS and social care response; the change in demand for hospital care and the impact of increased bed and respiratory support capacity; the provision of adult social care and shielding for the most vulnerable; and expanding, equipping and supporting the health and adult social care workforces. Key findings include: there is concerns in parts of the social care sector that local authorities have not increased fee rates paid to care providers; while reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in care homes peaked at the start of April, it is not known how many residents have had COVID-19 or how many of those discharged from hospitals into care homes had COVID-19 at the time of discharge; about half of the 2.2 million people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 have registered for support; on average, reported staff absence rates in care homes were around 10 per cent between mid-April and mid-May; from 28 April, all social care workers were eligible for tests, but the Department capped the daily amount of care home tests at 30,000; the central stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was designed for a flu pandemic and a range of bodies across health and social care have expressed concern about PPE supply; the supply of PPE from central sources up to mid-May only met some of the modelled requirement from health and social care providers.

Last updated on hub: 15 June 2020

Readying the NHS and social care for the COVID-19 peak

House of Commons

An examination of the health and social care response to COVID-19 in England and of the challenges to the services that the outbreak posed. The NHS was severely stretched but able to meet overall demand for COVID-19 treatment during the pandemic’s April peak; from early March to mid-May, the NHS increased the quantity of available ventilators and other breathing support, which are essential for the care of many COVID-patients. The report suggests that it has been a very different story for adult social care, despite the hard work and commitment of its workforce. Years of inattention, funding cuts and delayed reforms have been compounded by the Government’s slow, inconsistent and, at times, negligent approach to giving the sector the support it needed during the pandemic – responsibilities and accountabilities were unclear at the outset and there has been a failure to issue consistent and coherent guidance throughout the pandemic; 25,000 patients from were discharged from hospitals into care homes without making sure all were first tested for COVID-19; and the Government failed to provide adequate PPE for the social care sector and testing to the millions of staff and volunteers through the first peak of the crisis. The report argues that there are many lessons that the government must learn, not least giving adult social care equal support to the NHS and considering them as two parts of a single system, adequately funded and with clear accountability arrangements.

Last updated on hub: 03 August 2020

Real time evaluation of Leeds Neighbourhood Networks: response to the COVID 19 pandemic

Centre for Ageing Better

This snapshot report evaluates the Leeds Neighbourhood Networks (LNNs) and how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The networks support older people to remain living independently and to participate in their communities through a range of activities and services that are provided at a neighbourhood level. The report shows that following the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic in March 2020 the LNNs adapted their service offer rapidly to meet the needs of people living in their communities, focusing on the provision of food, medicine and other essential items, and ensuring people had access to social and emotional support. Some LNNs have taken on a ‘community hub’ role which has involved offering support to a broader section of the community, such as younger households and people experiencing financial hardship. Challenges and opportunities facing the LNNs during this period include: the intensification of their work; the tension between addressing needs of the whole community and the older people; an increase in the reach and visibility of the LNNs; there are some concerns about longer-term sustainability as the pandemic continues. The paper concludes by recommending the development of a clear vision about the role of the LNN in the citywide COVID 19 recovery process and understanding how LNNs can be supported to play a full and active role in the recovery process, including what resources and support may be needed.

Last updated on hub: 22 July 2020

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