COVID-19 resources

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COVID-19 impact on social work admissions and education in seven international universities

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

Inter-country Social Work admissions and educational comparisons are difficult due to variance in policy and practices between Social Work educational providers, even within the same country. However, this paper aims to provide an examination of different levels of impact that COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ had on ‘admissions to social work’ processes and on education, using examples from universities in Australia, England, Finland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Ireland and Sweden. Already we know that across these examples, admission processes differ significantly. Variances are between selection and entry methodologies with some institutions using academic entry criteria and personal statements and interviews, while others use academic entry criteria and relevant experience or academic entry only. We also know that practicum duration is variable across providers, lasting between 75 and 200 days. Despite all differences, a distinct adjustment to lockdown required a shift to virtual teaching methods for each institution. This paper seeks to explore the range of approaches adopted to lockdown in relation to practice learning placements in each example. This paper considers the underpinning values and principles that guided responses to the change processes in the various institutions and longer-term implications emerging from the required rapid change processes are discussed.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Resilience during uncertainty? Greater social connectedness during COVID‐19 lockdown is associated with reduced distress and fatigue

British Journal of Health Psychology

Background: Social connections are crucial for our health and well‐being. This is especially true during times of high uncertainty and distress, such as during the COVID‐19 lockdown. This period was characterized by unprecedented physical distancing (often communicated as social distancing) measures resulting in significant changes to people’s usual social lives. Given the potential effects of this disruption on people’s well‐being, it is crucial to identify factors which are associated with negative health outcomes, and conversely, those that promote resilience during times of adversity. Aims: This study examined the relationship between individuals’ levels of social connectedness during lockdown and self‐reported stress, worry, and fatigue. Method: Survey data were collected from 981 individuals in a representative sample of Austrian citizens. Data collection occurred during the last week of a six‐week nationwide lockdown due to the COVID‐19 pandemic. The final sample consisted of 902 participants. Participants were asked to complete validated questionnaires to assess levels of social connectedness as well as measures of perceived stress, worry - both general and COVID‐19 specific - and symptoms of fatigue during the previous two weeks. Results: The results demonstrate that greater social connectedness during the lockdown period was associated with lower levels of perceived stress, as well as general and COVID‐19‐specific worries. Furthermore, this study found a negative relationship between fatigue and social connectedness, which was mediated by feelings of stress, general worries, and COVID‐19‐specific worries - respectively, indicating that individuals with smaller network sizes, who were highly distressed during the pandemic, were also likely to report feeling more fatigued. Conclusion: The findings highlight the important role that social connections play in promoting resilience by buffering against negative physical and mental health outcomes, particularly in times of adversity in times of adversity.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Prevalence, management, and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infections in older people and those with dementia in mental health wards in London, UK: a retrospective observational study

Lancet

Background: People living in group situations or with dementia are more vulnerable to infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Older people and those with multimorbidity have higher mortality if they become infected than the general population. However, no systematic study exists of COVID-19-related outcomes in older inpatients in psychiatric units, who comprise people from these high-risk groups. This study aimed to describe the period prevalence, demographics, symptoms (and asymptomatic cases), management, and survival outcomes of COVID-19 in the older inpatient psychiatric population and people with young-onset dementia in five National Health Service Trusts in London, UK, from March 1 to April 30, 2020.Methods: In this retrospective observational study, the researchers collected demographic data, mental health diagnoses, clinical diagnosis of COVID-19, symptoms, management, and COVID-19-related outcome data of inpatients aged 65 years or older or with dementia who were already inpatients or admitted as inpatients to five London mental health Trusts between March 1 and April 30, 2020, and information about available COVID-19-related resources (ie, testing and personal protective equipment). Patients were determined to have COVID-19 if they had a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test, or had relevant symptoms indicative of COVID-19, as determined by their treating physician. This study calculated period prevalence of COVID-19 and analysed patients’ characteristics, treatments, and outcomes.Findings: Of 344 inpatients, 131 (38%) were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the study period (period prevalence 38% [95% CI 33–43]). The mean age of patients who had COVID-19 was 75·3 years (SD 8·2); 68 (52%) were women and 47 (36%) from ethnic minority groups. 16 (12%) of 131 patients were asymptomatic and 121 (92%) had one or more disease-related comorbidity. 108 (82%) patients were compulsorily detained. 74 (56%) patients had dementia, of whom 13 (18%) had young-onset dementia. On average, sites received COVID-19 testing kits 4·5 days after the first clinical COVID-19 presentation. 19 (15%) patients diagnosed with COVID-19 died during the study period, and their deaths were determined to be COVID-19 related. Interpretation: Patients in psychiatric inpatient settings who were admitted without known SARS-CoV-2 infection had a high risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 compared with those in the community and had a higher proportion of deaths from COVID-19 than in the community. Implementation of the long-standing policy of parity of esteem for mental health and planning for future COVID-19 waves in psychiatric hospitals is urgent.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Evolution and effects of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: a population analysis in 189 care homes in one geographical region of the UK

Lancet

Background: COVID-19 has affected care home residents internationally, but detailed information on outbreaks is scarce. This research aimed to describe the evolution of outbreaks of COVID-19 in all care homes in one large health region in Scotland. Methods: This study did a population analysis of testing, cases, and deaths in care homes in the National Health Service (NHS) Lothian health region of the UK. This study obtained data for COVID-19 testing (PCR testing of nasopharyngeal swabs for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2]) and deaths (COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related), and this study analysed data by several variables including type of care home, number of beds, and locality. Outcome measures were timing of outbreaks, number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in care home residents, care home characteristics associated with the presence of an outbreak, and deaths of residents in both care homes and hospitals. This study calculated excess deaths (both COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related), which this study defined as the sum of deaths over and above the historical average in the same period over the past 5 years. Findings: Between March 10 and Aug 2, 2020, residents at 189 care homes (5843 beds) were tested for COVID-19 when symptomatic. A COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed at 69 (37%) care homes, of which 66 (96%) were care homes for older people. The size of care homes for older people was strongly associated with a COVID-19 outbreak (odds ratio per 20-bed increase 3·35, 95% CI 1·99–5·63). 907 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were recorded during the study period, and 432 COVID-19-related deaths. 229 (25%) COVID-19-related cases and 99 (24%) COVID-related deaths occurred in five (3%) of 189 care homes, and 441 (49%) cases and 207 (50%) deaths were in 13 (7%) care homes. 411 (95%) COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the 69 care homes with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, 19 (4%) deaths were in hospital, and two (<1%) were in one of the 120 care homes without a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. At the 69 care homes with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, 74 excess non-COVID-19-related deaths were reported, whereas ten non-COVID-19-related excess deaths were observed in the 120 care homes without a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. 32 fewer non-COVID-19-related deaths than expected were reported among care home residents in hospital. Interpretation: The effect of COVID-19 on care homes has been substantial but concentrated in care homes with known outbreaks. A key implication from the findings is that, if community incidence of COVID-19 increases again, many care home residents will be susceptible. Shielding care home residents from potential sources of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and ensuring rapid action to minimise outbreak size if infection is introduced, will be important for any second wave.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Triggers of mental health problems among frontline healthcare workers during the COVID‐19 pandemic in private care homes and domiciliary care agencies: lived experiences of care workers in the Midlands region, UK

Health and Social Care in the Community

COVID‐19 was first reported in China and later spread across the world causing panic because there is no cure for it. The pandemic has adversely affected frontline health workers and patients, owing to poor preparedness. The study explored the triggers of mental health problems among frontline healthcare workers during the COVID‐19 pandemic. An exploratory qualitative approach was utilised in the study. Forty individual semi‐structured interviews were held with frontline healthcare workers. A thematic approach underpinned by some aspects of interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) and the Silences Framework (SF) was utilised. The research found that triggers of mental health problems among frontline health workers in private care homes and domiciliary care agencies are fear of infection and infecting others, lack of recognition/disparity between National Health Service (NHS) and social care, lack of guidance, unsafe hospital discharge, death and loss of professionals and residents, unreliable testing and delayed results and shortage of staff. It is important to support frontline workers in private care homes and domiciliary care agencies.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Covid-19 and community development

Community Development Journal

This is a brief response to Rosie Meade’s editorial in the Community Development Journal (55, 3), which identifies challenges to community development presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. As Rosie comments, while the implications of the pandemic are unpredictable, the crisis is infiltrating every aspect our lives. This response was written at the beginning of May, 2020, when we were still living in a context of fear and panic. In this short piece the author reflects further on some of the implications of the pandemic for community development, focussing on the Global North.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Community development ‘yet-to-come’ during and post the COVID-19 pandemic: from Derrida to Zuboff

Community Development Journal

The contours of this article, written as a dialogue between two authors, one in Australia (Westoby) and one in South Africa (Harris), outline a Derridean deconstruction of community development ‘yet-to-come’ during and post coronavirus disease 2019. Reflecting on the two countries’ experiences, drawing on theorists such as Zuboff (surveillance capitalism), Freire (critical literacy), Foucault (biopower), Escobar (pluriversality) and Berardi (semio-capitalism), this paper argues for transformational critical digital literacy work that enables greater community awareness of the consequences of digital lives and also transformative praxis. Riffing off many experiences that readers will be familiar with (lockdown, social distancing, tracing apps, virtual meetings and so on), the dialogue also suggests a soulful community development yet-to-come, foregrounding embodied lives, slowness, place, relationality and connection.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

The Covid-19 catastrophe, authoritarianism, and refusing to get used to it

Community Development Journal

Editorial. Introduces the articles in the current issue. Makes the observation that public health efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus are accelerating many trends already underway, including the digitization of life in forms such as telemedicine, remote working, and online teaching. Comments about Sue Kenny’s invited Reflections piece ‘Covid-19 and community development’ published in this issue of the Community Development Journal, where Sue lists a number of urgent political actions that can be taken right now, actions that can be regarded as part of a politics of refusal to get used to it. First amongst these is to ‘join the chorus of those alerting the world to the threats and dangers of authoritarianism’. The editorial also suggests that that ‘we can point to the thousands of small scale initiatives that pre-figure very different ways of organising society’. The editorial suggests that these could form the basis of a ‘kit-bag of exemplars that demonstrate the value of how to organise using such principles as social and ecological justice, collaboration and deliberative democracy

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

Helping out: taking an inclusive approach to engaging older volunteers

Centre for Ageing Better

This guide is designed as a practical tool to support organisations working with volunteers to engage over 50s and widen participation among different types of people. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an outpouring of community spirit and volunteering, which has been critical to the local response. Many older people have made significant contributions to their communities during lockdown, with 30% of people aged 50 to 70 volunteering informally and 87% saying they wanted to continue. However, others have been prevented from helping during this time and may now require support. The guide sets out five actions to support organisations to re-engage volunteers and widen participation among those aged 50 and over in future. They include: connect and listen; focus on what matters to people; play to people’s strengths; remove barriers; and be flexible.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020

An inquiry into the lived experience of Covid-19 in the home care sector in Ireland: the experiences of home care provider organisations

Home and Community Care Ireland

This exploratory research into the health, social and economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the eighteen home care provider organisations who responded to a survey sheds light on how those on the forefront of home care coped during one of the largest viral outbreaks in modern history. A questionnaire consisting of ten open-ended questions was developed following a rapid literature review and internal consultations. These questions were categorised under five subheadings: management, service provision, relationships, health and wellbeing, and the future. Key findings include: The most significant problem was workforce shortage – specifically, two thirds of organisations indicated low staffing levels due to a lack of childcare brought about by the closure of schools and creches; almost every third organisation noted a decrease in home care services, ranging from 20-30 per cent, mostly due to clients cocooning and self-isolating; another issue that featured strongly across all responses was related to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic – stress, fear, worry and even panic; almost every other organisation identified Protective Personal Equipment (PPS) to be a significant cause for concern – supply and distribution was a considerably more prevalent issue than the actual cost of PPE; to ensure the smooth running of business at a very chaotic time, all the providers implemented a range of novel policies and procedures – this rapid development of new ways of delivering service safely took place on several interrelated levels; the crisis exposed any structural shortcomings within the home care sector, but equally it brought about a sense of togetherness, cooperation and mutual support within the sector – and beyond it.

Last updated on hub: 09 November 2020