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COVID-19 work at HSCWRU

COVID-19 work at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce

Unit staff are involved in a number of projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic, either leading them or as members of multi-centre teams. This page outlines the projects and will be updated as the Unit's contribution develops.   

On this page: Children's social careDay centresChild protectionNursing Associates | Social work around the world | Personal Assistants | Dementia care | Care home workers | Social workers returning to practice | Homelessness | Unit in the media | On our blog

Last update 5 July 2020

Managing through COVID-19: the experiences of children’s social care in 15 English local authorities

5 July 2020 As a result of the Covid-19 crisis public services were forced to rethink how they continued to operate and provide services for those most in need. Children’s Social Care has introduced interim operating procedures to provide a safe service for all those children and young people identified as at risk and in need. These include video calls to families instead of home visits, as well as panels and decision-making meetings that take place virtually or are replaced by decisions taken by senior staff. This research examined the arrangements that have been introduced in 15 English local authorities, the challenges that they were facing, as well as those that may come with the lifting of the lockdown. It contains reflections on what has been learnt for the future and explores its possible legacy.

Baginsky, M. and Manthorpe, J. (2020) 'Managing through COVID-19: the experiences of children’s social care in 15 English local authorities', NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King's College London. 

Full Report (62pp) | Briefing paper (8pp). (The briefing paper is a summary of the main report.)

The ESRC Impact Acceleration Account at King’s College funded this work through the Slingshot initiative designed to allow a rapid response to events.

Helping day centres to 'unlock lockdown'

3 July 2020 Adult day centres are not a regulated service, and tend to be invisible in terms of guidance provided. In light of this, we have published Helping adult day centres to ‘unlock lockdown’This document aims to support manager or voluntary co-ordinators and staff generally, into the ‘new normal’ after the lockdown.

Child protection during the pandemic

We are delighted to have been awarded King’s Together funding to investigate how robust multi-agency child protection and safeguarding arrangements around schools have been during the pandemic. It provides an opportunity to build on our ESRC funded work on the role of schools in a multi-agency approach to child protection and safeguarding as well as the study we are concluding on the response of children’s social care to COVID-19. More about this study.

Expert informants’ views on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on Nursing Associate workforce development

As part of the NIHR Policy Research Unit on Health and Social Care Workforce’s evaluation of the Nursing Associate workforce initiative, the Unit research team interviewed a set of 28 expert informants from a range of stakeholder groups such as employers, regulators, professional bodies and unions, academics and workforce leads from Health Education England and other bodies.

This new part of the overall evaluation returns to these experts (in interviews starting July 2020) to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic and its legacy are likely to impact on the NA programme – or if it has already done so.

The world of the child: social work responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic  

At this Unit, Dr Mary Baginsky is exploring how local authorities in England have managed their responsibilities to children in need and children in care as they have adapted to the restrictions which have followed the COVID-19 pandemic. Local authority Children Services Departments have introduced interim operating procedures to provide a safe service for all those children and young people identified as at risk and in need. These include video calls to families instead of home visits with panels and decision-making meetings taking place virtually or being replaced by decisions taken by senior staff, as well as responding to the Government’s relaxation of regulations for supporting vulnerable children.

While it is important to learn from colleagues in these services, and allow them to learn from one another, this is a global pandemic which means that similar services in other countries, faced with similar challenges, have developed their own responses.

To learn more about these Dr Baginsky has invited colleagues from the Decisions, Assessment and Risk Special Interest Group of the European Social Work Research Association and from an international group of academics looking at professional identity in social work to contribute their experiences. We are posting this series on the Unit blog.

The first to do so is Dr Bernadette Moorhead, a lecturer in Social Work at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia.

The impact of COVID-19 on people who work as social care Personal Assistants

Funder: NIHR Policy Research Programme. Principal Investigator: Dr John Woolham, Senior Research Fellow, HSCWRU.

John Woolham, Senior Research Fellow at HSCWRU, is leading this study. It builds on earlier work examining this workforce and addresses questions arising from Personal Assistants’ experience during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Commissioned under the NIHR Policy Research Programme (the source of this Policy Research Unit’s core funding), the project is due to report to the English Department of Health & Social Care in autumn 2020. Project page.

Making decisions about dementia care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Funder: ESRC and UK Research and Innovation. Principal Investigators: Dr Nuriye Kupeli and Dr Nathan Davies, UCL.

During the COVID-19 pandemic people with dementia and families may have to make quick choices about care in hospital or at home. This project is producing an evidence-based guide, for family carers and people with dementia to use in the management of COVID-19. Prof Jill Manthorpe, HSCWRU Director, is collaborating with UCL researchers and others. More on this study.

Guidance for Managers and Decision Makers in Supporting Care Home Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID Trauma Response Working Group (co-ordinated by staff at University College London and the Traumatic Stress Clinic at Camden and Islington NHS Trust)

Working with colleagues from NHS and care home providers, as well as researchers, Jill Manthorpe has been part of a team that has produced (April 2020) Guidance for Managers and Decision Makers who are supporting care home staff in the current COVID-19 context. The Guidance aims to provide evidence-based recommendations and to alert readers to the particular challenges facing care home staff that differ in scale, substance and scope from health care workers.

Making Research Count during the COVID-19 pandemic

Funders: Local Government Association, the Government Equalities Office, Department for Education and Department for Health and Social Care.

HSCWRU staff have been working as part of Making Research Count – the Unit's knowledge mobilisation activity bringing practice and research together – providing the essential modules to the Government's Social Work Together Programme. This is for social workers who wish to come back to practice in the current COVID-19 context and beyond. Unit staff have provided four webinars covering Children and Families practice and Adults’ services, concentrating on statutory social work in the context of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Over 200 social workers attended the sessions in April 2020 which are being organised by Chinara Enterprises. These are interactive webinars and so far the response has been extremely positive. Those participating will also have access to other Making Research Count activities.

COVID-19 and changes to the Care Act 2014 – A briefing for homelessness providers and practitioners

Senior Research Fellow, Dr Michelle Cornes, co-authored a briefing (23 April) on the potential impact on people who are homeless of the Coronavirus Act 2020’s Care Act 2014 easements. Those local authorities currently using easements (it became possible to exercise them from 31 March 2020) are listed on the Care Quality Commission website.

In the media

30 April 2020: Unit Director, Prof Jill Manthorpe, was interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s The Briefing Room about the role of the home care workforce.

On our blog

2 July 2020: Guide for adult day centres to unlock lockdown safely – Caroline Green and Katharine Orellana

2 July 2020Fair Care Work: A Post COVID-19 Agenda for Employment Relations in Health and Social Care – Ian Kessler and colleagues

17 June 2020The Challenge of Self-Isolating in Houses in Multiple Occupation – Emily Hill

4 June 2020How are older people coping with digital technology during the COVID-19 pandemic? – Nayyara Tabassum

27 May 2020The COVID-19 Effect On Flexible Working: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Nayyara Tabassum

26 May 2020Embracing New Technology and Social Media to Prevent Homelessness: How COVID-19 is impacting on support workers in the criminal justice system – Stan Burridge.

13 May 2020: 'COVID-19 pandemic – the view from Australia' – Bernadette Moorhead.

24 April 2020: ‘From desk to doorstep’ – In an invited post, Esther Wiskerke reports from one south London borough on the impact of the pandemic on social care provision.

9 April 2020: ‘Impact of social distancing when you’re already socially excluded’ – In an invited post, Stan Burridge talks to four ex-rough sleepers about their experiences of living through the Coronavirus pandemic.

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