COVID-19 resources

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Respond, adapt, recover: stories of how tech is delivering on the frontline

techUK

This report explores how the UK responded in the immediate wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s first peak and lockdown, how businesses and people adapted to a new normal, and with vaccine roll-out underway, what steps must be taken for the economy and society to recover – demonstrating the role of technology in achieving this. The report highlights some of the organisations that have taken on the challenges presented to the UK during of the pandemic, the role of technology in finding solutions, and the lessons learnt so far that will provide a framework for what comes next. It shows that a number of companies doing innovative work: in scaling up health and social care response, in offering solutions to our new ways of working, in bringing communities together in a time of isolation, and using data to help us react to and overcome this pandemic. Although the ways each sector has responded vary, a common thread is the enhancement of technological innovation. The acceleration of digital solutions demanded by the pandemic have been compared to ‘healthcare’s online banking moment’. Community work, such Age UK’s free online IT courses, has meant some digitally-excluded individuals have been able to learn new skills and socialise while respecting social distancing rules. Working from home has become the new normal, with some companies potentially changing the way businesses operate in the long-term. While the pre-existing digital infrastructures have succeeded in positively contributing to the adaption and response to the pandemic, it is clear that this is the first step towards an even more digital future.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Better housing is crucial for our health and the COVID-19 recovery

The Health Foundation

This long read sets out the links between housing and health and explores the inequalities in housing across different groups and types of tenures. It then considers the impact of COVID-19 on housing so far, future risks and possible ways forward. Going into the COVID-19 pandemic, one in three households (32% or 7.6 million) in England had at least one major housing problem relating to overcrowding, affordability or poor-quality housing. Housing problems like these can affect health outcomes – including physical health directly from poor quality homes, and mental health from affordability or insecure housing. While fewer homes are classed as non-decent compared with 10 years ago, overcrowding and affordability problems have increased in recent years. The pandemic has highlighted the health implications of housing. Poor housing conditions such as overcrowding and high density are associated with greater spread of COVID-19, and people have had to spend more time in homes that are overcrowded, damp or unsafe. The economic fallout from the pandemic may lead to an increase in evictions. These housing problems have multiple causes: a focus on increasing supply to the detriment of other objectives; sustained reductions in housing benefits; and a private rented model which does not meet the needs of tenants. A combination of greater investment in social housing, more secure private tenancies, and reversing reductions in housing benefit support – such as the cuts to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – will be needed to improve the contribution of housing to health.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Effects of the pandemic on the Housing First Pilots and service users: findings from weekly calls during the lockdown period: final report

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

This report provides evidence on the experience of delivering the Housing First Pilots during the Covid-19 pandemic. Housing First is an intervention which supports homeless people with multiple and complex needs to access and maintain independent housing. The report sets out reflections from Housing First Pilot staff and from service users about the challenges involved in adapting service delivery and the key lessons learnt. The findings are based on interviews conducted over a 12 week period of lockdown and subsequent easing of restrictions. The interviews covered a range of themes to help improve understanding of how the lockdown and social distancing impacted on service delivery, service users and staff experiences, and on the ability to access external support services. Throughout the 12-weeks of consultations with Pilot staff, several key issues were identified as significant challenges faced by all Pilots, including: continuing to provide a high quality of service to service users whilst under lockdown – including keeping in touch with service users who struggle to engage and where there are barriers to engagement; keeping service users and staff safe whilst still delivering support; communication within support teams, and between support and strategic teams; disruption to service users’ routines and formal/informal support networks; service user access to mental health support and medical treatment; emotional needs of staff during lockdown, owing to a mix of professional and domestic stressors; disruption to supply of, and access to, suitable housing (including issues with supplying furnishings and white goods).

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Analysis of the relationship between pre-existing health conditions, ethnicity and COVID-19

Public Health England

This report looks at COVID-19 diagnoses (cases), deaths involving COVID-19 and survival following diagnosis in England during the first wave of the pandemic, focusing on pre-existing health conditions and ethnicity. It analyses these components separately, in order to gain a better understanding of the potential explanations for high death rates among some ethnic groups. This helps to identify whether high mortality in some ethnic groups is due to increased likelihood of being diagnosed with COVID-19, reduced survival following diagnosis, or both. The report shows that, in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in England, among people with a similar history of previous hospital admission mentioning pre-existing health conditions, there were ethnic differences in the numbers of cases and deaths involving COVID-19. In addition, ethnic inequalities in survival following diagnosis of COVID-19 were not explained by differences in such patterns of admission with pre-existing health conditions between ethnic groups. This conclusion is consistent with other studies reviewed in this document.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Staff movement: a risk management framework: briefing for adult care home providers

Care Provider Alliance

This briefing outlines a risk management approach that care homes can use to manage restrictions on staff movements. The briefing relates to CQC registered care homes with or without nursing in England. The Government is introducing legislation that will require care home providers to restrict all but essential movement of staff between settings in order to reduce transmission of COVID-19 – with a particular focus on care home staff. At the same time, care homes are facing staff shortages due to sickness and the ongoing high vacancy rates. A risk management framework can enable care homes to have a discussion with other agencies, such as their regulator or commissioner, about care home staff movement. This framework can assist services to manage the situation and provide operational tools that – over time – can drive down the number of staff movements and hence reduce the transmission of the virus. Many providers have already been pursuing such actions without an overall structure to work within. The briefing highlights the key factors which will affect staff movement over the coming months and which need to be considered within the risk management framework; actions for initial assessment; and how care homes should work with notifiable agencies, including the Care Quality Commission, local authorities and CCG commissioners, to agree contingency arrangements in advance of situations arising.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Dementia and Covid-19: national action plan to continue to support recovery for people with dementia and their carers

Scottish Government

This plan explains how the Scottish Government is working, and plans to work, with others to strengthen community resilience, support people with dementia and their families to continue to get the right care, treatment and support at the right time as we live with, and come through and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan: recognises the huge impact of the pandemic on people with dementia, their families and carers and the wider community; recognises that people living with dementia and their carers often feel alone, vulnerable and anxious about COVID-19; recognises the particular worries families have about what the future holds for their loved ones with dementia; uses what has been learned from the experiences people with dementia and their families have shared about how to respond to their needs during the pandemic; sets out how the government plans to help people with dementia and those that love and care for them to live well with dementia across the whole journey of the illness – and how it plans to reduce the risk of dementia; sets out the actions the government has done so far and actions it continues to do to respond to the pandemic and the things we will keep on doing; reinforces the government shared human-rights based and person-centred approach to supporting people with dementia and their families and carers.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

International “living” report: long-term care and COVID-19 vaccination, prioritization and data

International Long-term Care Policy Network

This report aims to provide an overview of progress in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations to people who use and provide long-term care. It is a “living report” that will be updated regularly. The report shows data for populations that either use and provide long-term care or are likely to do so. Initial review of prioritization documents shows that care home residents and personnel are consistently listed among the group with the highest priority. Care partners and family members of residents and unpaid carers of people living in the community are not explicitly mentioned. There are few mentions of people living with dementia or people with learning disabilities.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Evidence summary for lateral flow devices (LFD) in relation to care homes

Department of Health and Social Care

A summary of published research papers on lateral flow device (LFD) efficacy and preliminary findings from the evaluation of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) care home visitor testing pilot November 2020. The summary follows the release of visitor testing guidance that supports friends and relatives to visit care home residents and provides clarity on the available evidence to support safe visiting as part of our overall approach to promote the health and wellbeing of care home residents. Friends and relatives tested immediately before their visit can demonstrate they are likely to be free of risk of transmitting COVID-19 by having an LFD negative result. Testing must be done directly before the visit takes place and must be undertaken in combination with other infection prevention and control measures.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Informal dementia carers had to make difficult decisions about paid care during COVID-19

National Institute for Health Research

Explores how the first nationwide COVID-19 lockdown affected unpaid carers, and how they made decisions about accessing paid care. This research brings to the fore longstanding problems with care for people living with dementia. These issues include a lack of continuity of paid care, poor monitoring of care staff entering homes, and minimal support for unpaid carers. The research team interviewed 15 unpaid carers by telephone between April and May 2020. All carers had been accessing or trying to access paid home care before the pandemic. All were adult family or friends of someone with dementia. The researchers drew three themes from the interviews: carers felt concerned by the risk of paid carers bringing coronavirus into the home – lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and feeling unprepared to provide additional care heightened these fears; carers had difficult choices to make – many avoided hospitals and other health providers and struggled to weigh up the options of cancelling or continuing paid care and some described real fears of re-obtaining paid care post-COVID if they cancelled during lockdown; and implications for unpaid carers included increased workload and difficulty in accessing food deliveries.

Last updated on hub: 11 January 2021

Rapid systematic review: the impact of social isolation and loneliness on the mental health of children and adolescents in the context of COVID-19

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Objective: Disease containment of COVID-19 has necessitated widespread social isolation. This review aimed to establish what is known about how loneliness and disease containment measures impact on the mental health in children and adolescents. Method: This rapid review, searched MEDLINE, PsycInfo, and Web of Science for articles published between January 1, 1946, and March 29, 2020. Of the articles, 20% were double screened using predefined criteria, and 20% of data was double extracted for quality assurance. Results: A total of 83 articles (80 studies) met inclusion criteria. Of these, 63 studies reported on the impact of social isolation and loneliness on the mental health of previously healthy children and adolescents (n = 51,576; mean age 15.3 years). In all, 61 studies were observational, 18 were longitudinal, and 43 were cross-sectional studies assessing self-reported loneliness in healthy children and adolescents. One of these studies was a retrospective investigation after a pandemic. Two studies evaluated interventions. Studies had a high risk of bias, although longitudinal studies were of better methodological quality. Social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety at the time at which loneliness was measured and between 0.25 and 9 years later. Duration of loneliness was more strongly correlated with mental health symptoms than intensity of loneliness. Conclusion: Children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as enforced isolation continues. Clinical services should offer preventive support and early intervention where possible and be prepared for an increase in mental health problems.

Last updated on hub: 07 January 2021