COVID-19 resources

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Safeguarding health equality for the disadvantaged during the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned for the social work profession

Qualitative Social Work

An evaluation of the role played by the social work profession during the outbreak of COVID-19 is necessary. Although social workers have made efforts to address people’s needs during the pandemic, it is worth examining the role they have played in safeguarding health equality. Focusing on the case of Hong Kong, we found that the profession was generally ill-prepared for the outbreak, and in particular, for confronting the attendant social inequalities. We identified three possible reasons for these findings: 1) non-governmental organizations were caught off-guard by the outbreak, 2) there was no clearly articulated intervention agenda to inform practitioners of the roles they should play in such a large-scale crisis, and 3) having become more formalized and standardized, social work services may have become less flexible in responding to emerging community needs. We conclude this article by suggesting three directions that could allow the profession to better pursue its mission during large-scale crises.

Last updated on hub: 17 March 2021

Safeguarding in faith-based organisations during the COVID-19 crisis

Social Care Institute for Excellence

Safeguarding for faith-based organisations during the COVID-19 crisis. Part of the Safeguarding Training Fund; funded by the National Lottery and DCMS.

Last updated on hub: 14 May 2020

Safeguarding pressures phase 7: interim report

The Association of Directors of Children's Services

The seventh phase of a research study which uses survey and interview data from local authorities to examine the safeguarding related pressures facing children's services across England, including changes in demand and provision of children's social care. This interim report, ahead of the study full publication in February 2021, provides key headlines including a focus on the impact of Covid-19. There was a greater variation between authorities in terms of the volume of safeguarding activities in 2019/20, resulting in an overall reduction in referrals and children in need, and increases in contacts, assessments and Section 47 Enquiries in England. The study estimates, based on local authority responses, that there has also been an increase in the number of looked after children, UASC and care leavers. Local authorities reported how their approaches to safeguarding during Covid-19 were effective. Creative uses of technology to engage and support children, families and professionals during the pandemic have been harnessed. However, digital poverty, together with ‘not knowing what is happening behind the camera’ can carry additional problems for some families and groups of children including very young children, and some children with a disability.

Last updated on hub: 05 January 2021

Safeguarding: remote and blended learning: challenges and approaches

Education and Training Inspectorate

This paper identifies the key safeguarding challenges faced by schools and educational and training organisations during the period of educational closures due to COVID-19 and how these have been approached across all phases of education and training. Challenges include: the impact of the absence of day-to-day contact with more vulnerable children and young people; the reported increase in domestic abuse cases during COVID-19; a need to have updated policies reflecting a change to e-learning practices; concerns regarding the use of online remote learning platforms or communication methods; the high numbers of apprentices who have lost their jobs or been furloughed; most European Social Fund (ESF) projects lacking the IT infrastructure for remote learning and on-line support for their participants. The paper sets out a range of examples from each phase detailing how specific organisations have responded and the approaches they have put in place.

Last updated on hub: 20 July 2020

Saving a lost decade: how a new deal for public health can help build a healthier nation

Policy Exchange

This report sets out a blueprint for reforming public health in England. It argues that for far too long healthcare policy has been focused on an institution, the NHS, rather than the health and wellbeing of the population as a whole. The COVID 19 pandemic has exposed the flaws of this approach – high rates of obesity, increasing health inequality and stalling life expectancy have all translated into a higher death rate recorded from the pandemic. Furthermore, the decision to remove health protection functions from Public Health England to a new National Institute for Health Protection presents an opportunity to reimagine and design a better public health system. To achieve that, the report proposes a ‘new deal’, whose core components should include: ambition – a new national strategy for delivering plans for ‘five healthier life years by 2035’ should be published in response to the 2019 Prevention Green Paper, linking plans for ‘levelling up’ to health improvement; national structures – the majority of PHE’s health improvement functions should move into the DHSC with closer Ministerial accountability and a new National Institute for Health Improvement should be established linking health improvement to wider ambitions for Government ‘levelling up’; funding – the Government should maintain the Public Health Grant as the primary mechanism for funding public health through local authorities, but review the amount of money against services and population health need; local government – local authorities should continue as lead public health commissioners; system working and performance – the new National Institute for Health Improvement should work with local public health directors to assess local public health performance and deliver further accelerated improvements.

Last updated on hub: 12 November 2020

Saying goodbye: a resource for care homes

National Activity Providers Association

This resource aims to support people to acknowledge the losses care home staff, their colleagues and the people they support are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Developed in collaboration with leaders in this field, this resource brings together some information to guide professional through alternative ways in which they can give bereavement support and remember those who passed away. The resource consists of six factsheets focusing on: how to say goodbye; supporting loss and saying ‘goodbye’; supporting people living with dementia in care homes to respond to loss and grief; loss and grief in the care home; acknowledgement of the death of a resident: example of a short, non-religious memorial ceremony; showing respect after death – the Hallmark Farewell, an example of recognition; Starlight Remembrance – a way of collectively sharing grief and acknowledging loss.

Last updated on hub: 22 December 2020

Scared, angry, discriminatory, out of my control: DNAR decision-making in 2020

The British Institute of Human Rights

Findings from a study to gather information from people who have experienced Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) decision making, both since and prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. The report shows a worrying picture around the rights of involvement in care and treatment decisions, including DNARs. The evidence depicts serious issues of discrimination related to disability and age, and the intersection between the two, as well as other factors. Coronavirus has shone a spotlight on this, and some reported an increase in worrying DNAR decisions; but none of this is new, these problems are ongoing. The report’s key findings are: 100% of people involved said there needs to be more easily accessible information about human rights; almost 60% of people involved said they had received no information about their right to life during Coronavirus; 65% of people involved said that they (or a person they care for/about) had a DNAR order put on your medical file. 21% said they didn’t know; of those who had seen a DNAR order put in place almost half (47%) were not related to end-of-life care; less than a third of people (29%) who were involved in DNAR decision-making felt fully listened to, most felt listened to a bit (46%), and 25% felt not listened to; 91% of people involved felt that discrimination was an issue in the DNAR decisions they’d experienced.

Last updated on hub: 03 March 2021

School closures and children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties

Nuffield Foundation

This study provides evidence of the significant negative impact of school closures last summer on children’s mental health. The study found a significant rise in emotional and behavioural difficulties among primary school children following the 2020 spring and summer term school closures, a rise that was greater for children who were not prioritised to return to school for six weeks before the summer holiday. The study found a slight improvement in wellbeing once schools reopened in September, but not to pre-pandemic levels, and the gap between those who missed out on more vs. less time in school during the summer term remained stubbornly wide. This suggests that the potentially negative impacts of the current round of school closures on children’s mental health are likely to continue after the Easter holidays and into next term, if not beyond. Mothers reported an increase in children’s behavioural and emotional difficulties during the pandemic. The rise was equivalent to a child newly exhibiting a particular negative behaviour or experiencing a new emotional difficulty some of the time, or around 14% of the average pre-pandemic level of difficulties, as measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. This increase in difficulties was greater among children who were less likely to have returned to school during the summer term.

Last updated on hub: 15 March 2021

Scotland’s wellbeing: the impact of COVID-19

Scottish Government

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our health, economy and society, with damaging impacts on the way of life and wellbeing of people in Scotland. This document aims to report on how COVID-19 has affected progress towards Scotland’s National Outcomes. It brings together a range of evidence sources, as well as analysis and insight, to show the impact of COVID-19 across the National Outcomes to date and its potential future impacts. Understanding the breadth of impacts should aid a range of organisations and individuals who are considering how to reset progress towards the national outcomes in light of the pandemic. The evidence presented in this report shows that the pandemic is likely to have significant and wide-ranging impacts, right across the National Outcomes. These impacts will be largely negative, but there are differences across the outcomes in terms of the direction of the changes, the depth and severity of impacts, the level of certainty over the effects and the timeframe over which they may occur. A key finding is that the impacts of the pandemic have been, and are likely to continue to be, borne unequally. Unequal outcomes between different groups existed pre-COVID, and the effects of the pandemic have only worsened this. The evidence to date suggests that health, economy, fair work and business and culture outcomes have been deeply negatively affected so far, and when the labour market impacts fully emerge, this is likely to also have a negative impact on the poverty outcome. Education and children outcomes are also likely to be 5 impacted negatively, but the evidence on the scale of the impact so far is limited and these impacts are likely to take longer to emerge

Last updated on hub: 12 January 2021

Screening for economic hardship for child welfare-involved families during the COVID-19 pandemic: a rapid partnership response

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: Pandemics have a wide range of economic, health and social consequences related to both the spread of a disease and efforts made by government leaders to contain it which may be particularly detrimental for the child welfare-involved population. This is because child welfare agencies serve some of the highest needs children and families. A significant proportion of these families face economic hardship, and as a result of containment measures for COVID-19, more families inevitably will. Objective: Given the range of negative consequences related to the pandemic and the evolving supports available to families, child protection workers needed a clinical tool to guide and support work with families informed by an understanding of economic hardship. The objective of this paper is to report on the development and implementation strategy of a tool to be used for practice intervention during the pandemic. Methods: Action research methodology was utilized in the creation of the clinical tool. The tool’s development and implementation occurred through an academic/child welfare sector partnership involving child welfare agencies representing diverse regions and populations in Ontario, Canada. Factor analysis of representative child welfare data from the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect 2018 (OIS-2018) on economic hardship was used to inform the development of questions on the clinical tool. Results: The development and implementation strategy of the clinical tool are described, including the results from analyses of the OIS-2018. Conclusions: Future directions for the project are discussed, including considerations for using this tool beyond the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

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