COVID-19 resources

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The impact of COVID-19 on children’s social care in England

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: As a response to COVID-19 the population of England was asked to stay at home and work from there wherever possible. This included those working in children’s social care (CSC) who have responsibility for child protection and other safeguarding duties. Objective: The study was designed to understand how CSC made the transition from being an office-based agency to one where the majority of social workers were based at home and to understand how CSC perceived the impact on children and their families. Participants and setting Senior members of CSC staff in 15 local authorities took part in the research in June 2020. Methods: Nine interviews were conducted by video call, three by telephone, and three consisted of initial written responses that were then followed by telephone calls. Results: Service delivery had been maintained across all the authorities with most visits being made virtually after assessments of risk had been conducted on all cases. Multiagency working had improved, with greater involvement of general practitioners and paediatricians. Overall activity in CSC had been lower than normal but as lockdown eased this was changing. Concerns were expressed about how to manage the response that would be required to meet the expected level of harm that had occurred but been hidden. Conclusions: Responses to COVID-19 prompted widespread innovation and it will be an imperative to evaluate which initiatives have worked for children and families, as well as practitioners, and which should be discarded, sustained or reshaped.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Comparative optimism about infection and recovery from COVID‐19; Implications for adherence with lockdown advice

Health Expectations

Background: Comparative optimism, the belief that negative events are more likely to happen to others rather than to oneself, is well established in health risk research. It is unknown, however, whether comparative optimism also permeates people’s health expectations and potentially behaviour during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Objectives: Data were collected through an international survey (N = 6485) exploring people’s thoughts and psychosocial behaviours relating to COVID‐19. This paper reports UK data on comparative optimism. In particular, we examine the belief that negative events surrounding risk and recovery from COVID‐19 are perceived as more likely to happen to others rather than to oneself. Methods: Using online snowball sampling through social media, anonymous UK survey data were collected from N = 645 adults during weeks 5‐8 of the UK COVID‐19 lockdown. The sample was normally distributed in terms of age and reflected the UK ethnic and disability profile. Findings: Respondents demonstrated comparative optimism where they believed that as compared to others of the same age and gender, they were unlikely to experience a range of controllable (eg accidentally infect/ be infected) and uncontrollable (eg need hospitalization/ intensive care treatment if infected) COVID‐19‐related risks in the short term (P < .001). They were comparatively pessimistic (ie thinking they were more at risk than others for developing COVID‐19‐related infection or symptoms) when thinking about the next year. Discussion: This is the first ever study to report compelling comparative biases in UK adults’ thinking about COVID‐19 We discuss ways in which such thinking may influence adherence with lockdown regimes as these are being relaxed in the UK.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Reflections on social work 2020 under Covid-19 online magazine

Social Work Education (The International Journal)

Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 was a free online magazine conceived just before the UK’s Covid-19 full lockdown began, in late March 2020. It ran for five editions until 14 July 2020. In this time it published close to 100 articles from academics, people with lived experience, practitioners and students. It contained a far higher proportion of submissions from the last three groups of contributors than traditional journals. This article draws on the six-person editorial collective’s reflections on the magazine: it considers its founding purposes; its role in fostering social work community, utilizing an adaptation of social capital classifications; and its potential as a learning tool. It concludes by arguing that the magazine illustrates the potential for free online publications to be an important emergent vehicle for ‘everyday activism’ within the field of social work.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Impact of COVID-19 related social support service closures on people with dementia and unpaid carers: a qualitative study

Aging and Mental Health

Objectives: Accessing social care and social support services is key to support the well-being of people living with dementia (PLWD) and unpaid carers. COVID-19 has caused sudden closures or radical modifications of these services, and is resulting in prolonged self-isolation. The aim of this study was to explore the effects of COVID-19 related social care and support service changes and closures on the lives of PLWD and unpaid carers. Method: PLWD and unpaid carers were interviewed via telephone in April 2020. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Demographic characteristics including household Index of Multiple Deprivation score and weekly hours of social support service usage before and since the COVID-19 outbreak were also collected. Paired samples t-tests was used to compare the mean of weekly hours of social support service usage before and since the outbreak. Results: 50 semi-structured interviews were conducted with unpaid carers (n = 42) and PLWD (n = 8). There was a significant reduction in social support service usage since the outbreak. Thematic analysis identified three overarching themes: (1) Loss of control; (2) Uncertainty; (3) Adapting and having to adapt to the new normal. Carers and PLWD were greatly affected by the sudden removal of social support services, and concerned about when services would re-open. Carers were worried about whether the person they cared for would still be able to re-join social support services. Conclusions: PLWD and carers need to receive specific practical and psychological support during the pandemic to support their well-being, which is severely affected by public health restrictions.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

What helped people and communities cope during Covid

What Works Centre for Wellbeing

An outline of the key findings from the Collective Psychology Project, which has been researching how people coped and even thrived during the adversity of 2020. The study explored how people discovered the ‘active ingredients’ of mental health, not just through therapy and pills, but also through self-care and mutual aid activities — from poetry to philosophy, from baking to cycling, from online learning to joining a neighbourhood support group. The blog offers some suggestions and reflections, including: doctors and health authorities should be careful not to pathologise the normal and appropriate suffering people feel in hard times; as well as supporting mental health services, we can also emphasise people’s strengths, assets and natural coping skills, including community approaches; building psychological flexibility, rather than happiness, is critical; wellbeing involves all aspects of society, from the economy to the arts to travel and green spaces; community infrastructure is essential for communities to thrive.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

Paradoxes of pandemic

Professional Social Work

This perspective suggests that while the COVID-19 crisis will have a huge impact on social issues like homelessnesss and child neglect, it may not be necessarily in ways we might predict. At the time this article was published more than 36,000 people across the UK had died from coronavirus and over 4,000 people who sleep rough had been placed in temporary accommodation. While there are legitimate fears lockdown and pandemic measures generally may have led to more child abuse and neglect, paradoxically, some children are also protected by the lockdown. With more people within a child's home, there are more individuals and more opportunities to supervise children and this may deter abuse by other people. The article also considers the 'social work' paradox, i.e. the key agency in child protection - social work - has received far less recognition during the pandemic. The article also discusses the 'government paradox' or the government's newfound concern over child protection and other social issues. The article concludes with the the suggestion that after the pandemic the government should seek to retain some gains, and in particular continue to treat child abuse and neglect, domestic abuse and rough sleeping, and other acute social issues, as the emergencies they are.

Last updated on hub: 15 October 2020

The challenges of COVID‐19 for divorcing and post‐divorce families

Family Process

COVID‐19 and the accompanying procedures of shelter‐in‐place have had a powerful effect on all families but have additional special meanings in the context of families contemplating divorce, divorcing, or carrying out postdivorce arrangements. This paper explores those special meanings for these families. It also offers suggestions for couple and family therapists involved in helping these families during the time of COVID‐19.

Last updated on hub: 14 October 2020

Relational lockdown and relational trauma in the time of coronavirus: a reflection from a UK family therapist

Family Process

Like a meteor hitting the earth’s surface, 44, 131 unexpected deaths have shaken, disturbed, and saddened the core of our nation. This reflection considers the consequences of the coronavirus crisis in the UK with particular reference to the impact on families and on the practice of family therapists. The perspective presented can only be partial because of the fast‐changing situation and the limited access to alternative perspectives that are available during this period of relational lockdown. The author provides a systemic understanding of what has happened and what is happening.

Last updated on hub: 14 October 2020

Lessons from the transition to relational teletherapy during COVID‐19

Family Process

When the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, clinicians were challenged to maintain continuity of care. Teletherapy became the primary means of service delivery for many who had never or only sparingly used it. The Family Institute at Northwestern University, in response to encouraging findings with respect to the effectiveness of teletherapy and recognizing advantages with respect to access to care, launched the teletherapy services in 2018. As a relationship‐based organization, this organisation was keen to exploit the opportunity that teletherapy provides to integrate additional members of the client system into the treatment. Over these two plus years, a great deal has been learned. The learning was greatly accelerated by the transition to a 100 percent teletherapy practice in the wake of the pandemic. Teletherapy is a different context. Intentionally managing the context’s constraints and exploiting its strengths is key to providing high‐quality couple and family therapy. This step is often overlooked or resisted when teletherapy is an occasional add‐on to a face‐to‐face practice.

Last updated on hub: 14 October 2020

Infidelity in the time of COVID‐19

Family Process

Infidelity occurs in approximately 25% of marriages and is associated with various negative consequences for individuals (e.g., depression, anxiety, and post‐traumatic stress), the couple relationship (e.g., financial loss, increased conflict, and aggression), and the couple's children (e.g., internalizing and externalizing behaviors). Infidelity is also one of the most frequently cited reasons for divorce. The increased stress brought on by the pandemic may be putting couples at an increased risk for experiencing infidelity, and data collected during the pandemic have shown that people across the United States are engaging in behaviors that are associated with a high likelihood of experiencing infidelity. The negative consequences of infidelity are also likely to be exacerbated for couples during the pandemic due to the intersection with the social, emotional, and financial consequences of COVID‐19. Furthermore, couples are likely to experience disruptions and delays to the affair recovery process during the pandemic, which can negatively impact their ability to heal. Therefore, recommendations for navigating affair recovery during the pandemic, including adaptations for therapy, are also discussed.

Last updated on hub: 14 October 2020