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Looking at the impacts of COVID-19

Care Act duties and COVID-19: Reflections on the rationing of social care

Neil Allen, University of Manchester

In this NIHR funded project, we investigated the operation of Care Act easement under the Coronavirus Act. In this talk, we review the events that have happened to understand local authority Care Act duties and people’s rights to home care under pandemic conditions. We argue that the rationing of social care by local authorities was a rational and probably unavoidable response to the extraordinary and unprecedented conditions of the pandemic. However the uneven way this was done as between easement and non-easement areas, and the ways in which easements (rather than non-easements) were challenged by stakeholders, have exposed substantial ambiguities in how we understand statutory duties arising under the Care Act. This lack of clarity creates a great deal of uncertainty as to what Local Authority duties were under pandemic conditions, how needs could best be met, and whether the provision (or lack of it) was and is open to legal challenge by those entitled to home care.

"I never thought that a PA could actually be a lifesaver": Experiences of social care Personal Assistant employers over the COVID-19 pandemic

Kritika Samsi, King's College London

This qualitative study funded by the NIHR SSCR sought to provide evidence of the experiences of people employing their own directly employed care workers (Personal Assistants) during the Covid-19 pandemic to inform and improve care practice. We interviewed a diverse sample of 70 PA employers across England, as well as 15 members of staff from disability support organisations. We found that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated existing challenges facing PA employers, and disabled people more generally. The direct payments system in particular was perceived as rigid and poorly aligned with notions of choice and control, especially in times of crisis. The needs of people receiving support in their own homes is poorly understood or recognised; closer working between disability support organisations, local authorities and central government would help to bridge this gap and inform Covid recovery plans.

The event took place on Zoom.

The Home Care Research Forum is based at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce.

At this event

Monica Leverton

Research Fellow

Kritika Samsi

Senior Research Fellow