COVID-19 resources

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The impact of COVID-19 prison lockdowns on children with a parent in prison

University of Oxford

This paper shares findings from a study exploring the experiences of more than 70 children whose parents were in prison across the UK during the first lockdown in 2020. Face to face visits were stopped in prisons on or around 13th March 2020, and although some prisons reopened for restricted face to face visits over the summer months, several periods of national lockdown have effectively stopped visits for almost 12 months. The prison estate in England and Wales did not have video call facilities operational in all prisons until January 2021 – video calls have been limited and problematic for children. This amounts to an interference with children’s right to family life. Many of these children enjoyed regular and positive contact with their parent prior to prison lockdown. This loss of contact has negatively impacted children’s relationships with their imprisoned parents and their mental and physical health and wellbeing. Children may not understand why contact has stopped and may blame themselves. The effects of this loss of contact and disruption to family relationships are likely to be long term and will affect family reunification and resettlement after imprisonment. Other jurisdictions have managed the public health emergency in ways which have not removed children’s meaningful relationships with their parent, through the use of more frequent and reliable video calls, face to face visits with physical contact for children, and early release schemes. The pandemic is not yet over, and it is likely that prisons will continue to use restricted regimes to reduce the spread of Covid-19 within their populations. It is not too late for the UK to make changes to its management of prison visits and communication for prisoners with their families, in order to mitigate the harms which have been done to children in the past 12 months.

Last updated on hub: 22 March 2021

The impact of COVID‐19 restrictions in the United Kingdom on the positive behavioural support of people with an intellectual disability

British Journal of Learning Disabilities

Background: It has been suggested that COVID‐19 and the associated restrictions are likely to have a negative impact on the provision of positive behavioural support (PBS) to people with an intellectual disability. Methods: Fifty‐eight staff, who had recently completed an accredited positive behavioural support (PBS) programme, responded to an online questionnaire, which asked them to rate the impact of COVID‐19 on factors related to PBS. Results: Participants reported a neutral or somewhat positive impact on all the areas measured, with the exception of the activities and quality of life of those they supported, which were somewhat negatively affected. The participants rated the learning from their PBS programme as helping them cope with COVID‐19 to some extent. Examples of positive and negative effects and ways in which PBS helped staff to cope are presented. Conclusions: Many staff developed creative solutions that allowed them to provide PBS despite the COVID‐19 restrictions. PBS learning appeared to help staff cope with the negative impact of the restrictions.

Last updated on hub: 05 March 2021

The impact of COVID-19 to date on older people’s mental and physical health

Age UK

This briefing presents findings of a study on the impact of the pandemic on older people’s physical and mental health. It is based on 569 responses to a survey – 369 respondents were older people themselves and 200 answered on behalf of an older person; and representative online polling of 1,364 people over the age of 60 – of these nearly half were over the age of 70 and 40% were already living with a long-term condition before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The briefing focuses on the impact of the pandemic on physical health; diet and nutrition; cognitive decline; people affected by dementia; long term conditions and shielding; mental health and wellbeing; self-neglect; bereavement; loneliness; and health inequalities. While some older people have used the last few months as an opportunity to do more exercise and improve their fitness, this study suggests that many have seen their health deteriorate in the face of isolation and reduced opportunities to socialise and be physically active – sometimes drastically so. The pandemic has taken its toll on older people’s mental health. Older people with pre-existing mental health conditions have seen an increase in the severity of their symptoms, while others are struggling for the first time. Clubs, activities, and volunteering, which older people previously were involved with have been put on hold, while friends and family have needed to stay away, leaving many older people feeling lonely and isolated. Critically, older people from more disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds have been more severely affected, both mentally and physically.

Last updated on hub: 21 October 2020

The impact of technology in adult social care provider services

Institute of Public Care

A rapid action research and analysis of adult social care provider services to share learning on how technology is being used during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to capture the barriers, enabling factors and benefits of adopting technology. A new helpline to support the adult social care sector to use technology was set up by Digital Social Care during the pandemic and the Institute of Public Care undertook telephone interviews with helpline callers who opted-in to the action research and with other sector stakeholders. The findings show that the number of visitors to the Digital Social Care website more than doubled from the end of February to the end of April 2020, reflecting the rapid increase in social care providers starting to use NHSmail, video conferencing and other digital technologies. This rapid onboarding and digital adoption was not without problems, resulting in very variable experiences for providers. In particular, the process for application, registration and activation of NHSmail is still challenging and slow for many care providers, even with the simplified requirements. The report calls for a coordinated approach to ensure digital adoption and innovation continues, is sustained and becomes the new normal. This should include recognising the scale of the support needed by the sector to adopt digital technology safely and broadening NHS digital support and engagement to include homecare, extra care and supported living providers to realise benefits for vulnerable people living in the community.

Last updated on hub: 03 August 2020

The impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on people who work as social care personal assistants

King's College London

This study addresses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the work of social care Personal Assistants supporting people in need of care and support. Drawing from a sample of 105 PAs, researchers were able to interview 41. The findings show that regardless of whether they were paid, unless they were themselves ‘shielding’ to protect themselves or a family member, nearly all PAs were helping others in some way on a voluntary basis. However, other than limited, general guidance from the government which was not always thought useful by PAs, there were few other reliable sources of information about the virus, or about practical arrangements such as when and where to get tested, to obtain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and to learn safe practices. Most PAs wore masks, gloves, aprons and said it was likely to become routine practice for them now, but It was often difficult for them to obtain PPE. PAs were asked about what would be most helpful to them in responding and adapting to the Covid virus. Several suggestions were made, including ready access to sufficient quantities of good quality PPE; the implementation of easily accessible, reliable testing; effective mechanisms for contact tracing to help prevent the spread of the virus; a single source of contact for support and reliable and accurate advice; better pay, contracts and less precarious working conditions; and financial support to people who were unable to work, but were not being paid by the employer, and did not qualify for the government’s furlough scheme.

Last updated on hub: 23 September 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: d/Deaf and disabled children and young people

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from Childline counselling sessions and NSPCC helpline contacts to highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on d/Deaf, disabled and autistic children and young people. Key themes of the report include: worries about the pandemic; coping with coronavirus restrictions; learning during lockdown; returning to school after lockdown; family pressures; children experiencing abuse; getting support during the pandemic. The briefing reveals that coronavirus restrictions have caused disruption to young people’s routines, which has been difficult for some children to cope with and adjust to. Support services have been harder for young people to access during the pandemic, with services either closed or severely reduced. Where services were transferred online, some young people found it difficult to access them, due to their disability. Home learning has also presented several challenges for some young people, including accessibility of online lessons and reduced additional support. Some young people have experienced delays in being assessed for support during the pandemic. After returning to school, some young people found they were no longer receiving the same level of support as they had been given before lockdown. The pandemic conditions have put additional stress on families where a child is disabled. Some parents have struggled to cope with the demands of caring for a disabled child with reduced support. Some children have also had to care for a disabled sibling during lockdown. Some young people report being unfairly, and in some cases aggressively, challenged for not wearing a face covering, even though they are exempt from doing so.

Last updated on hub: 16 February 2021

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: domestic abuse

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from NSPCC helpline contacts and Childline counselling sessions to highlight the impact of domestic abuse on children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people who are, or have been, in a relationship. Between 23 March and 17 May 2020 the NSPCC helpline received 1,500 contacts from adults worried about the impact of domestic abuse on children, and Childline delivered over 500 counselling sessions to children and young people who were worried about domestic abuse. The key themes of these contacts include: reduced access to support networks; and lockdown bringing domestic abuse into sharp focus – making it harder to speak out, making it more difficult to leave, drinking during lockdown, exploiting fears about the coronavirus, young people worried about other family members.

Last updated on hub: 16 June 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: online abuse

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from NSPCC helpline contacts and Childline counselling sessions to highlight the impact of online abuse on children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic. It focuses on perpetrators targeting children online for sexual abuse and contains quotes from children and young people reporting their experience. Key themes include: the impact of online sexual abuse on children; online grooming; loneliness and self-esteem; using online platforms for the first time; sharing sexual images; sexual exploitation; and speaking out about abuse. The briefing highlights that while children and young people have been able to access important support via the internet during the coronavirus pandemic, perpetrators have also been provided with more opportunities to target children for sexual abuse online. Techniques used by perpetrators include: using multiple channels to communicate with children; moving conversations from one platform to another; and taking conversations from public to private online spaces. The report calls for expansive and ambitious Online Harms regulation across the UK, to help keep children safe. This includes: a Duty of Care on online platforms; a regulator that has comprehensive investigatory, disclosure and enforcement powers to address online risks; and user advocacy arrangements, funded by an industry levy, to provide counterbalance to industry engagement and ensure children’s needs are represented in regulatory decisions.

Last updated on hub: 13 October 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: schools

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from NSPCC Childline counselling sessions and message boards to highlight children and young people’s experiences of being away from and returning to school during the coronavirus pandemic. Key themes include: learning during lockdown; attending school during lockdown; transitioning back to school; COVID secure measures in school; being sent home to self-isolate; bullying; and support and safety. During the first lockdown children and young people contacted Childline to talk about how they missed being in school, missed seeing their friends and teachers, struggled with being out of their normal routine and were worried about getting behind with their school work. As children returned to school, some young people talked about their challenges with the transition and the new COVID control measures. Some young people said that they see school as a safe and supportive place but were finding it difficult because they didn’t have the same support as they’d had before lockdown.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: sexual abuse

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from Childline counselling sessions and NSPCC helpline contacts to highlight the impact of child sexual abuse within the family during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes abuse by an adult parent, carer or relative; the partner of a family member; a sibling; or a cousin. The briefing highlights that the restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the risk for some children who were experiencing sexual abuse within their family home. Lockdown provided some perpetrators with more opportunities to sexually abuse children in their family. Being in lockdown also made it harder for children to speak out to trusted adults, ask for help and get the support they needed; conversely, in some cases, the stay-at-home rules increased the urgency for adults to contact the NSPCC helpline and report their concerns. The analysis also finds that spending more time alone and without the usual distractions meant that distressing memories of past abuse began to surface for some young people. The briefing calls on governments to deal with the “hidden harms” of the pandemic and ensure support for children who have experienced sexual abuse is embedded in recovery planning. In England this must include the publication and implementation of a comprehensive, cross-government strategy for tackling child sexual abuse.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

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