COVID-19 resources

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Isolation in the midst of a pandemic: social work students rapidly respond to community and field work needs

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

In the midst of a pandemic, many social work students are currently displaced from their field education, while the needs of their communities are exacerbated. Due to stay-at-home orders, the risk of experiencing social isolation and loneliness, already a major social problem prior to the crisis, has increased, especially for older adults. Seeking to step up in the context of a public emergency, graduate social work students in the United States created a project called GiftsofGab.org, which is a volunteer call-based companion coordination project that connects social work students with those in need of social interaction. This paper provides a case study of this project and argue that this kind of student-initiated action learning project can provide a workable alternative field placement model in times of crisis and is consistent with the community practice mission of social work.

Last updated on hub: 12 November 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social work education and practice in the Netherlands

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

During the first half of 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus had a huge global impact. The physical health of many was (often severely) threatened and affected, resulting in numerous deaths. Furthermore, all aspects of human coexistence came under pressure, such as economic activities and material living conditions, psychological well-being and social contacts, human rights and democratic decision-making, international political relations and global solidarity. As in other parts of the world, COVID-19 kept the Netherlands in its grip. This article addresses the following questions:-What impact did pandemic and policy have on Dutch social work education and how was this experienced by students?-What was the impact of pandemic and policy on social work practices and what were its challenges for social professionals?-What does this all mean for the future of social work education, since it has to take the present concerns of students into account as well as prepare them for social work practice in the near future?

Last updated on hub: 12 November 2020

Making virtue of necessity. Experiences and lessons from Spain during Covid-19

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

The present paper intends to give an overview of how students and lecturers of the Faculty of Social Work at Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) experienced and faced the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the paper, it will be explained what measures were taken, the effects that these measures had on the academic community, the challenges of becoming digital for most of the lecturers and students. The paper will conclude by reflecting on the new opportunities that the context paves the way for, and the insights gained, lessons learnt and ideas to put in action for the future.

Last updated on hub: 12 November 2020

From crisis to opportunity? Innovations in Australian social work field education during the COVID-19 global pandemic

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian universities have had to radically rethink and reconfigure many aspects of social work education. This has been particularly pronounced for field education, as human service organizations that ordinarily host student placements have also needed to rapidly design remote modes of service delivery in the context of current social distancing requirements, and unprecedented demands for assistance. Prior to COVID-19, a growing body of literature had emerged, mounting concerns about the current Australian model of field education. During the pandemic, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) has modified some of the standards related to field education. Such variations are entirely necessary in the context of the pandemic and create opportunities for social work educators, not only to imagine new models of field education that are more suitable for contemporary contexts but to implement and trial them in ways that have not been possible until now. This paper largely focuses on innovations in field education that are currently being developed and implemented at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), in Australia.

Last updated on hub: 12 November 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

The After Party evaluation report on a socially distanced care home project: March – July 2020

Magic Me

This evaluation summarises outcomes for those involved in The After Party project, including care home residents and staff, volunteers, artists and staff from the care providers; and provides a short overview of Magic Me’s Cocktail in Care Homes (CICH) project, with a focus on the context of how The After Party began. The study also includes learning and suggestions for future work, in light of outcomes and learning from The After Party. For over 10 years Magic Me trained volunteers who were seeking connections with their local communities to come into their local care homes and have a party with residents. The After Party was developed as a way of keeping up the links with these key CICH sites during the pandemic, in place of the planned last few parties to mark the end of the CICH programme. Each month, After Party care partners received newsletters from Magic Me, which included artist actions and activities, alongside personalised messages from CICH Volunteers. After Party ‘care packages’ were sent via post by the artists, which included creative activities and resources, physical items, i.e. letters, artworks and/ or physical representations of artworks produced by volunteers and the wider public who have taken part in the creative activities throughout the month. They are physical mementos for residents, staff and the home/scheme. The evaluation found that Magic Me provided very easy to use care packages which met the needs of residents, were helpful to care staff, motivated volunteers and generated a great deal of happiness and interaction at a very difficult time. Benefits were felt by all involved. Although it was impossible to create the same sense of connection as when meeting face to face, it seems that The After Party managed to capture some of the energy and colour of the CICH parties and this was transferred into the online project.

Last updated on hub: 12 November 2020

Did the UK government really throw a protective ring around care homes in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Journal of Long-Term Care

Context: COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted mortality in English care homes. Objectives: To examine COVID-19 policies for care homes in England and to describe providers’ experiences of those policies in May and June 2020. Methods: Mixed methods including policy analysis and an anonymous online survey of English care home providers, recruited using webinars and WhatsApp groups about their experiences of funding, testing, PPE, isolation and staffing until the end of May and early June 2020. Findings: Although social care policies in England have aligned with those advised by the World Health Organization, they were arguably delayed and were not implemented effectively. Testing had taken place in 70% of care homes surveyed but only 36% of residents had been tested, of whom 16% were positive. Managers were unable to effectively implement isolation policies and reported that workforce and funding support did not always reach them. Guidance changed frequently and was conflicting and could not always be implemented, for example when personal protection equipment was extremely expensive and difficult to source. Limitations: Although this was not a representative sample, care homes responded from across the country and this study reports the most consistent themes. Potentially, care homes that found it harder to implement national guidance may have been more inclined to respond to the survey than those who more easily changed practice, although those with outbreaks may also have had less capacity to respond. Some aspects of policy will have also changed since early June. Implications: Despite policies that were put in place, care homes amongst the survey respondents were still unable to access sufficient funding, testing, PPE, workforce support and practical support to isolate residents by the end of May and early June. Future cross-country policy analyses must examine policy implementation as well as content.

Last updated on hub: 11 November 2020

Adult social care winter preparedness plan 2020-21

Scottish Government

This Plan sets out the winter preparedness measures already in place that must be retained and those that need to be introduced across the adult social care sector in the midst of the global pandemic of COVID-19. The Plan is centred around four key principles: learning from evidence to protect people who use social care support from the direct impact of COVID-19, and wider winter viruses; ensuring that people have good physical and mental health and wellbeing through provision of high quality integrated care services; supporting the social care workforce to enable the delivery of safe support and care and to have positive mental health and wellbeing; working in collaboration to plan and deliver quality care. Within these categories, the Plan provides specific guidance on a range of critical issues such as: infection control; testing and vaccination; PPE; hospital discharge; mental health; staff movement; outbreak management; new funding; and fair work.

Last updated on hub: 11 November 2020

Care home review: a rapid review of factors relevant to the management of Covid-19 in the care home environment in Scotland

Scottish Government

Findings of the rapid review of COVID-19 outbreaks in four care homes, including a list of recommendations based on risk factors that were found to be common in at least two of the homes. The review aimed to collate and evaluate local level experiences and responses to the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks within care homes and to support learning and practice across the sector through the sharing of learning identified and approaches to improvement. High community prevalence and slow confirmation of an outbreak after the first case was detected was a common cause of the high attack rate identified. Many of the positive cases were not identified quickly because they were asymptomatic or there was a lack of awareness in those interviewed of the wider spectrum of symptom presentation in older people. This resulted in testing not done in a timely manner. As a result additional control measures were put in place too late to stop the widespread transmission. Key to this is timely testing and reporting of results, in order that control measures can be put in place. The challenges with high community prevalence in the local areas, testing availability and turnaround times, combined with high occupant density, staff shortage indicators and the built environment risks re isolation or cohorting capability, placed care home residents at risk of the swift spread of COVID-19. Once COVID-19 has been introduced into a care home, it has the potential to result in high attack rates among residents, staff members, and visitors, and this occurred in each of the homes within this review. It is therefore critical that all long-term care facilities (care homes, residential settings and community hospitals) implement active measures to prevent introduction of COVID19, and are supported to do so.

Last updated on hub: 11 November 2020

The impact of Covid-19 on nursing homes in Italy

Politecnico di Milano

This brief note examines the interplay between the institutional context of care homes in Italy and the spread of the pandemic. As they faced the pandemic, care homes had both internal and external problems. On the internal side, they had to face the entry of the virus into their structures with inadequate medical staff and insufficient resources and capacity to implement distancing and other preventive actions. They were also unable to provide adequate health care to their Covid-19 patients, and very often unable to send them to hospitals. On the external side, their situation was ignored for a long time by policy makers, who were mainly focused to face the emergency in hospitals. The national lockdown of nursing homes regarding the access of relatives and external visitors – a crucial measure in order to prevent possible transmission of infection – was established only on March 4, about two weeks later the spreading of the infection. Furthermore, for many weeks not adequate attention has been paid to testing and monitoring activities among healthcare staff and patients: a priority for the implementation of such preventive activities in nursing homes was established only at the beginning of April. The paper argues that most of the criticalities came from the pre-existent difficult condition of these institutions. The more nursing homes have specialised in the intensive-health treatment of seriously non-self-sufficient elderly, the more the quality of their services had been hampered by very precarious financial and organisational conditions, co-determined by the lack of public investment in these structures. The pandemic has acted as a “focusing event”, revealing the structural weakness of this sector and the main critical problems affecting it.

Last updated on hub: 11 November 2020