COVID-19 resources on Infection control

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Social connection, loneliness and lockdown

Research In Practice: Dartington

Katy Shorten gives a comprehensive overview of loneliness and key messages from the literature for social care. The blog covers: identifying loneliness; the importance of social networks and activities; the role of technology; partnership working with organisations that support people and communities; building relationships; and being person-centred. The blog signposts to key evidence and resources.

Last updated on hub: 29 June 2020

Social distancing and social work field placements

Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning

The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on social work practice placements around the world and in the United Arab Emirates is of concern to students, social work educators and service users. This practice note, focuses on the impact of the interruption to social work practice learning for students at the United Arab Emirates University and reflect on the introduction of 'social distancing', a health and safety strategy aimed at reducing the likelihood of the spread of the coronavirus. The paper proposes ways in which students in school placements can continue to develop their social work knowledge and skills ‘from a distance’ and while physically absent from their practice learning settings.

Last updated on hub: 17 April 2020

Social distancing in a social therapy environment

Therapeutic Communities: the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities

Purpose: This paper aims to describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a prison-based therapeutic community (TC). Design/methodology/approach: The paper takes the form of a case study where the authors reflect on their current practice, using the findings of research on social isolation and the overarching TC principles to explore the effect of the pandemic on the TC at HMP Grendon. The authors consider how the residents and staff adjusted to the change as the parameters changed when the social distancing rules were imposed and how they adapted to the prolonged break to therapy. Sections in the paper were written by a resident and an operational member of staff. The authors conclude with their thoughts on how to manage the consequences the lockdown has brought and start to think about what returning to “normality” might mean. Findings: The paper describes the adjustments made by the residents and staff as the UK Government imposed the lockdown. The authors, including a resident and an operational member of staff comment on the psychological and practical impact these adjustments had. The thought is given to the idea of “recovery”, returning to “normality” and how this study can be best managed once restrictions are lifted. Research limitations/implications: At the time of writing, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at HMP Grendon. The measures and commitment from all staff and residents in the prison to keep the prison environment safe may in part account for this. This paper explores the effects of lockdown on the emotional environment in a TC and highlights the consequences that social isolation can have on any individual. To the authors’ knowledge, there is currently no research undertaken on the impact of lockdown/social isolation on a TC. This research would be useful, as the authors postulate from reflections on current practice that the effects of the lockdown will be greater in a social therapy environment. Originality/value: HMP Grendon started in 1962, as this time there have been no significant events that have meant the suspension of therapy for such a sustained period. It is, therefore, important that the impact of such is considered and reflected upon.

Last updated on hub: 09 December 2020

Social work and COVID-19 pandemic: an action call

International Social Work

The social work profession, more than any other, is most hurt by the rampaging coronavirus (aka, COVID-19) pandemic given the scourge’s pernicious impact on society’s underserved and undervalued populations. More so, the pandemic has undermined the profession’s historical value commitment to social justice and human rights while overturning our insistence on the importance of human relationships. The purpose of this essay is to explicate the nexus between social work and COVID-19 pandemic. While noting the deafening silence of the profession in the global discourse of the pandemic, it advocates for the urgency of our response if our profession is to attain significant public value amid the current loss of lives and threats to human rights. Strategies for our professional action, in flattening the curve of the contagion, are laid out.

Last updated on hub: 19 November 2020

Social work assessments for people with advanced dementia in “the new normal”

Working with Older People

Purpose: Social work involves working directly with people who are experiencing a crisis. An assessment is carried out to establish the best way forward and then reviewed after a period of time to measure success or recalibrate the service. The current pandemic restrictions have all but ruled out meeting with people face-to-face. Now, professionals are usually required to don some form of personal protective equipment (PPE) when meeting with people and their families. Talking to an unknown professional who is behind a mask or on the telephone, about a personal issue is hard for everyone, but it is particularly difficult for people who may be further on in their dementia journey. Design/methodology/approach: Critique. Findings: These impediments impact the social work assessment and review, meaning people may not have the quality of service they need and may end up paying for unnecessary provision. If admission to a care home is deemed necessary, the stakes rise considerably. A care home admission means contributing towards fees with pensions, savings and assets, including housing. Now, it comes with an additional health risk. Originality/value: COVID-19 infection has impacted on the older population but residents in care homes with frailer physical health, cognitive impairment and delirium are at particularly high risk of dying.

Last updated on hub: 29 December 2020

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

State policy responses to COVID-19 in nursing homes

Journal of Long-Term Care

Context: COVID-19 has a high case fatality rate in high-risk populations and can cause severe morbidity and high healthcare resource use. Nursing home residents are a high-risk population; they live in congregate settings, often with shared rooms, and require hands-on care. Objectives: To assess state responses to the coronavirus pandemic related to nursing homes in the first half of 2020. Methods: An in-depth examination of 12 states’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes through June 2020, using publicly reported information such as government decrees, health department guidance, and news reports. Findings: No state emerged as a model of care. All states faced difficulty with limited availability of testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). State-level efforts to increase pay and benefits as a strategy to enable infected staff to quickly physically separate from residents were minimal, and other separation strategies depended on the ability to obtain test results rapidly and on state rules regarding accepting discharged COVID-19 patients into nursing homes. Visitor restrictions to reduce risk were ubiquitous, though based on a slim evidence-base. Limitations: The information used was limited to that which was publicly available. Implications: Overall, the results suggest that the states that handle the ongoing pandemic in nursing homes best will be those that find ways to make sure nursing homes have the resources to follow best practices for testing, PPE, separation, and staffing. Evidence is needed on visitor restrictions and transmission, as states and their citizens would benefit from finding safe ways to relax visitor restrictions.

Last updated on hub: 25 September 2021

Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Public Health England

This guidance is intended for: people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well; and those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus. Also includes specific guidance for households with grandparents, parents and children living together where someone is at increased risk or has possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. [First published 12 March 2020. Last updated 20 September 2020]

Last updated on hub: 22 July 2020

Staying ‘Covid-safe’: proposals for embedding behaviours that protect against Covid-19 transmission in the UK

British Journal of Health Psychology

Objectives: The Scientific Pandemic Insights group on Behaviours (SPI-B) as part of England’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), were commissioned by the UK Cabinet Office to identify strategies to embed infection control behaviours to minimize Covid-19 transmission in the long term. Methods: With minimal direct evidence available, three sources of information were used to develop a set of proposals: (1) a scoping review of literature on sustaining behaviour change, (2) a review of key principles used in risk and safety management, and (3) prior reports and reviews on behaviour change from SPI-B. The information was collated and refined through discussion with SPI-B and SAGE colleagues to finalize the proposals. Results: Embedding infection control behaviours in the long-term will require changes to the financial, social, and physical infrastructure so that people in all sections of society have the capability, opportunity, and motivation needed to underpin those behaviours. This will involve building Covid-safe educational programmes, regulating to ensure minimum standards of safety in public spaces and workspaces, using communications and social marketing to develop a Covid-safe culture and identity, and providing resources so that all sections of society can build Covid-safe behaviours into their daily lives. Conclusions: Embedding ‘Covid-safe’ behaviours into people’s everyday routines will require a co-ordinated programme to shape the financial, physical, and social infrastructure in the United Kingdom. Education, regulation, communications, and social marketing, and provision of resources will be required to ensure that all sections of society have the capability, opportunity, and motivation to enact the behaviours long term.

Last updated on hub: 01 September 2021

Staying apart to stay safe: the impact of visit restrictions on long-term care and assisted living survey

Office of the Seniors Advocate

Findings of a five-week survey about the impact of COVID-19 related visitor restrictions at long-term care and assisted living homes. The survey, answered by residents, their family members and the general public, had over 13,000 valid responses. The analysis suggests that most family members and residents support some visit restrictions during the pandemic, although they believe visits should be more frequent and that at least one more visitor for each resident should be permitted. Key findings include: before the pandemic, 55% of families were visiting long-term care and assisted living residents for an hour or more several times per week and even daily; most family members were not aware of the possibility of essential visits during the first four months of visit restrictions, and almost half of the people who did apply for an essential visit were refused; under the current visitation policy, the majority of visits are only once a week or less, and half the visits in long-term care are 30 minutes or less; 30% of current visits are outside only; currently, 65% of visits are observed by staff for some or all of the time; only 21% of visits are in the privacy of the resident’s room (75% of long-term care residents and almost 100% of assisted living residents live in private rooms); 70% of visitors are not allowed to touch their loved one; most visitors are washing their hands, wearing a mask, having their temperature checked, and answering health questions prior to each visit.

Last updated on hub: 11 November 2020

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