COVID-19 resources

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Pandemic and protest in 2020: questions and considerations for social work research

Qualitative Social Work

The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and social/political protest concerning structural anti-Black racism marks a moment for deep reflection and revision of many taken-for-granted assumptions about our research and academic lives as social work scholars. In this reflexive essay we, as two non-Black qualitative social work scholars, explore some of the questions and considerations for social work research that have surfaced since the emergence of these complex social, political, and economic crises. We organize our reflection around what we study, why, and how we go about studying it. We then offer a discussion of various constraints and challenges that emerge in this type of reflective scholarly practice, including an analysis of how contexts of white supremacy culture and neoliberalism shape social work scholarship. We close the essay with a number of recommendations for further reflection for social work scholars, such as reviewing research practices, seeking external research funding, practicing reflexivity, interrogating assumptions about knowledge production, self and community care, and integrating scholarly work into social work curriculum.

Last updated on hub: 17 March 2021

Pandemic one year on: landmark mental health study reveals mixed picture

Mental Health Foundation

New results from the Mental Health in the Pandemic study show that one year on, the crisis has had wide and deep emotional impacts on UK adults. The research reveals some positive signs. Anxiety about the pandemic has become less common, falling from 62 per cent of those surveyed in March 2020 to 42 per cent in February 2021. However, the overall picture is mixed. Loneliness has become much more common, increasing from 10 per cent of those surveyed in March 2020 to 26 per cent in February 2021. Feelings of loneliness have not returned to their pre-lockdown levels at any point over the past year, including when most restrictions were lifted over the summer. Loneliness matters for mental health because connections with others help us cope with difficulties. Losing connections means less emotional support, at a time of global crisis that has challenged almost everyone.

Last updated on hub: 29 March 2021

Pandemic Patient Experience II: from lockdown to vaccine roll-out

Patients Association

This report outlines the findings of an online survey conducted from February 11th to April 5th 2021, following up key themes in our report of last year, Pandemic Patient Experience. The survey reveals that the struggles to access services that many patients experienced in the spring and summer of 2020 have been less severe since then, but have still continued to some extent. Many people have shielded during the pandemic, but most shielding has not been done in line with official advice. The impact of shielding, and the numbers of people who will find it hard to return to participating fully in society, may therefore be widely underestimated. Patient feedback on the vaccination programme is extremely positive. Most patients found communication about their vaccine appointment and the process for arranging it very positive. Patients’ views on the overall handling of the pandemic were somewhat mixed. Very few rated it as very good, but across the other response options there was a range of opinion, trending overall to the negative. Vaccinated respondents were clearly more likely to rate it positively than unvaccinated respondents, but this may simply reflect a well documented trend in views across age groups rather than people’s views being specifically influenced by whether or not they have had a vaccination.

Last updated on hub: 04 May 2021

Pandemic patient experience: UK patient experience of health, care and other support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Patients Association

This is a report based on the findings from a survey to capture how patients and others are experiencing health and care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey had four sections: managing and accessing care for existing health condition(s); experience of treatment and care for COVID-19; experience of end of life care and bereavement support; and experience of services under lockdown overall. It ran from May until August, and around 953 people responded to at least one section of the survey. The findings show that 67% of respondents had had health and care appointments cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Those who had had the virus at some point reported they had good experiences in the circumstances, but that they didn’t always have access to the support and information they needed, especially from GPs, and sometimes from the NHS111 telephone line. Some of those who had experienced a bereavement during lockdown spoke of the compassionate care and support they received but also reported some clear examples of failings in services and people were not always able to stay in contact with their loved one at the end of life. About half of respondents did not feel generally supported emotionally when receiving health and care services; and felt they had to wait to long, were not able to access the right services and said their care had not been well co-ordinated. The report identifies a set of principles for ensuring all patients, disabled people, carers and others are able to have the best possible experience, including: recognise from the outset that the impact of the crisis will fall hardest on those who already face discrimination and inequality; and maintain the principles and values of patient choice, shared decision making and voice.

Last updated on hub: 29 September 2020

Pandemic policy making: the health and wellbeing effects of the cessation of volunteering on older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

Purpose: This policy-orientated commentary aims to provide a perspective on the effects of policy changes designed to reduce the risk of infection as a result of COVID-19. The example of the abrupt cessation of volunteering activities is used to consider the policy and practice implications that need to be acknowledged in new public service research to deal with the on-going implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and for future preparedness. Design/methodology/approach: The paper will provide a critical challenge to English pandemic health policy making, in particular, the national instruction “to stop non-essential contact with others” without a strategy on how to remedy the serious side effects of this instruction, in particular on older adults. Findings: The abrupt cessation of volunteering activities of and for older people because of the COVID-19 pandemic is highly likely to have negative health and wellbeing effects on older adults with long-term and far-reaching policy implications. Originality/value: The paper combines existing knowledge volunteering of and for older adults with early pandemic practice evidence to situate an emerging health and wellbeing crisis for older adults. It emphasises the importance of immediate further detailed research to provide evidence for policy and practice following the lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions and in preparation for future crises.

Last updated on hub: 29 December 2020

Pandemic pressures: how equalities organisations responded to the Covid-19 crisis

Ambition for Ageing

This briefing summarises the learning from research that looked at how equalities organisations supporting marginalised older people managed during the Covid-19 crisis. Equalities organisations found adapting services quickly during Covid-19 more or less challenging depending on their size, the needs of their communities, and their ability to make changes – they found it easier or more difficult to switch to digital and online services depending on their IT systems and staff skills; older people found it difficult to learn new skills in a pandemic and most preferred phone support, but this needs more staff and time; equalities organisations worked hard to meet high levels of mental health support needs, which increased during the pandemic, but there were gaps in funding and linking people to the right kinds of support. Equalities organisations found partnership working helpful where they already had strong relationships, but they felt statutory organisations did not consult with them early enough. Key recommendations for commissioners and funders include: recognise and utilise the expertise of equalities organisations to mitigate against increasing inequalities in a crisis; build and support the resilience of equalities organisations to respond in a crisis; learn from the experiences of equalities organisations during this pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 17 May 2021

Pandemic pressures: how Greater Manchester equalities organisations have responded to the needs of older people during the Covid-19 crisis

Ambition for Ageing

Summarises research into how Greater Manchester equalities organisations have responded to the needs of older people during the Covid-19 crisis. Older people in the communities that many equalities organisations represent, including those that experience racial inequality, disability and LGBT people, are more at risk either to the virus itself or to the effects of pandemic control measures than the general older population. Equalities organisations stepped up and put a huge amount of effort in responding to the crisis and adapting services for older people in their communities. Because of the nature of the pandemic, and the ongoing uncertainty, this has taken its toll on organisations and staff, with a result that some, especially smaller, organisations are now struggling or in danger of becoming overwhelmed. Equalities organisations have a further triple burden over and above many other community organisations because in many cases the needs of the communities they represent have been poorly considered in planning. This triple burden involves filling gaps to meet unmet specific needs of marginalised communities; working with, or lobbying, public sector providers to amend or add to pandemic response services that have been already established; and “horizon scanning” to try to pre-empt potential future problems. Taking the learning from this research, the report identifies a number of recommendations for service commissioners, funders and contractors which can be viewed under three main headings: recognise and utilise the expertise of equalities organisations to mitigate against increasing inequalities in a crisis; build and support the resilience of equalities organisations to respond in a crisis; learn from the experiences of equalities organisations during this pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 17 May 2021

Pandemic pressures: how to improve crisis response using equalities organisations’ expertise

Ambition for Ageing

This briefing summarises the key findings from research, which highlights how the experiences of equalities organisations during the Covid-19 crisis can be used by service commissioners, funders and contractors to contribute to future emergency planning and responses. Equalities organisations that work within and for particular communities of identity which experience marginalisation were on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic. They filled gaps to meet unmet specific needs of marginalised communities; worked with and lobbied public sector providers to amend or add to established pandemic response services and they held the expertise to pre-empt and plan for potential future problems. Key recommendations for commissioners and funders include: recognise and utilise the expertise of equalities organisations to mitigate against increasing inequalities in a crisis; build and support the resilience of equalities organisations to respond in a crisis; learn from the experiences of equalities organisations during this pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 17 May 2021

Pandemic pressures: why families on a low income are spending more during Covid-19

Resolution Foundation

This note explores why low-income families report spending more, not less, during the pandemic. It brings together the findings from two online surveys of a representative sample of working-age adults in the UK and a number of vivid accounts from parents and carers themselves, drawn from the ongoing ‘Covid Realities’ participatory research programme. The evidence presented in this note shines a light on the absence of targeted, adequate support for families on a low income, who today face the combined insecurity of Covid-19 and increased financial pressure. Moreover, it underlines the importance of understanding the differential experiences of the pandemic. Key findings include: during the summer and autumn 2020, families with children estimated to be in the lowest pre-pandemic income quintile were twice as likely to report an increase in spending (36 per cent) than a decrease (18 per cent); having children at home more has meant higher spending on food, energy and ways to entertain or distract children when so many outdoor leisure activities have been curtailed; remote schooling has proven very expensive, especially for those families that have had to buy a laptop or arrange for broadband access, for example; the cost of feeding a family on a low income has risen during the pandemic; in September 2020, half of adults with less than £1,000 in savings report drawing down on them since February, and over half of adults in the lowest-income quintile using borrowing to a greater extent than they did pre-pandemic to cover everyday living costs. With tough new restrictions now in place to contain the spread of the more transmissible Covid-19 variant, parents on a low income face another difficult period without school or childcare, when costs once again look set to increase.

Last updated on hub: 18 January 2021

Pandemic sex workers’ resilience: COVID-19 crisis met with rapid responses by sex worker communities

International Social Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequality of social support systems worldwide, revealing the gaps that further marginalize vulnerable people. Despite the fact that sex workers are adversely affected by the pandemic, they are excluded from government relief and protection programmes as well as health services. Sex worker communities have developed rapid response strategies to support their peers in overcoming these challenges. Sex worker organizations all over the world have been working alongside other groups and communities to advocate for income and health support for all, and an end to repressive policing and state-sanctioned violence.

Last updated on hub: 19 November 2020

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