Grow your own – an idea whose time has come (again)

Richard Griffin MBE is Visiting Senior Research Fellow, King’s Business School. (869 words)

Back in 2010 I produced a paper for the Department of Health with the snappy title of Widening Participation Into Pre-registration Nursing Degree Programmes. Nursing was becoming an all degree profession and there was a concern at the time that this might narrow the pool of future recruits as vocational routes were closed. The document mapped pathways up to and into pre-registration degrees for existing support staff, including via the then current version of apprenticeships. It also set out the wider benefits of a “Grow Your Own” (GYO) approach to workforce development and recruitment. These included, not only securing future labour supply, but also helping ensure that the NHS workforce better reflected its local population, supporting diversity and reducing turnover.

Fast forward a decade and I’m having a conversation with an NHS Trust who had hoped to recruit from their existing support staff on to a degree apprenticeship. There is no shortage of candidates, but it appears the step up from support role to a pre-registration degree is too large for staff and the Trust is unable to recruit. The 2010 paper, which I repeated for Camilla Cavendish’s review three years later, made the point that GYO needs to be “end-to-end”, starting even before employment begins and delivering investment in the formal education of support staff at every level, creating clear pathways to mobilise what we called back then, the NHS “skills escalator”. GYO seeks to create progression steps creating horizontal and verticals career routes, avoiding the “gap” problem experienced by the Trust I was talking to. Continue reading

Health inequalities among older BAME groups in later life

Dr Nayyara TabassumDr Nayyara Tabassum is Evidence Officer in the Centre for Ageing Better. (917 words)

In March of this year when we were still learning about COVID-19 in the UK, I remember listening to a journalist on the telly saying the coronavirus does not discriminate – it infects and kills everyone, rich or poor, young or old. But as more news started filtering in, a pattern of who the virus infected the most began emerging. Even while scientists and public health personnel were grappling with this new virus and how it spreads, one of the earliest news trends of the pandemic is that the virus seemed to affect particular groups, such as older people, those with underlying health conditions, those living in deprived areas, lower-skilled workers, those working in social care, those living in care homes and BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) groups more than any other group.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on health inequalities that disproportionately affect older people and BAME people, something also confirmed by the recent PHE report published in June 2020.

This blog looks at what we know about health inequalities of older BAME groups, what we need to know more about and what are some key recommendations to promote healthy ageing that is inclusive for all. Continue reading

Keeping “Everybody in” – the need to move from hotels to Housing First

Stan Burridge is an ex-rough sleeper and an HSCWRU Peer-researcher. He is Director of Expert Focus, a user-led organisation that supports the involvement of people with lived experience in homelessness research and policy. (1,029 words)

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about all the people who have been swept from the streets and into hotels because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The old mantra that it was impossible to house all those sleeping rough has been scotched. This event signifies how, with the right amount political will and financial investment, radical change can happen at scale and pace.

Thinking about the next steps for Everybody in (the policy of offering people sleeping rough a hotel room for duration of the lockdown) I would like to urge policymakers to continue to pursue radical change (i.e. doing the right thing). Looking for a real solution to homelessness means taking note of the ‘overwhelming evidence that highlights the effectiveness of Housing First.’[i]

Housing First affords people a permanent home (their own front door) with no requirements beyond accepting the help of a trusted worker to maintain their tenancy. There is no requirement to ‘move on’ with other areas such as addiction and mental health issues, and even if someone were to lose their home, the trusted worker will continue to work with them. Continue reading

Social care is not an intractable problem

John Burton has been working in and with social care, mostly residential care, since the mid-1960s. He has worked at all levels with all client groups and ages, and is currently consulting to therapeutic children’s homes. His most recent book is Leading Good Care (JKP 2015) and he is now writing a new book on children’s homes. Readers may also be interested in his What’s wrong with CQC? published by The Centre for Welfare Reform. (1003 words)

When designing anything it’s crucial to understand what its purpose is. When redesigning something that isn’t working as well as it should, we must study the operation of what currently exists to identify how it falls short of its purpose. To study effectively, we must get to know it in detail from the inside, look at it as a whole and make no assumptions.

So it is with what we call social care. We start and end life dependent on others, but in between the beginning and end we remain dependent to a greater or lesser extent. We are social beings and we are never fully independent. When we need more support than our family, friends and neighbours can give, we require an organised system of support which will include paid people and is likely to include supplies, buildings, equipment etc. We all need and give support, some more than others and at different times. It’s simply part of being human. Continue reading

Resource for day centres – Guide for adult day centres to ‘unlock lockdown’ safely

Caroline Green and Katharine Orellana, Post-Doctoral Fellows, National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South London. (721 words)

On 23 March 2020, most of England’s population was placed into ‘lockdown’ due to the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic taking hold across the UK. This was an unprecedented move by the government and meant that social care services, including day centres for older people or those with social care needs mostly closed to regular users.

Several months later, the government is taking a step-by-step approach to ‘unlocking’ society, with social clubs and community centres allowed to open again from 4 July 2020. But, with the pandemic not yet subsided, day centres are faced with the task of making their services safe and reducing the risks of infections to service users and staff. This is particularly important for day centres, as they may serve groups of people at risk of being seriously affected by the virus, such as people with underlying health conditions. Continue reading

Fair Care Work: A Post COVID-19 Agenda for Employment Relations in Health and Social Care

Ian Kessler, Stephen Bach, Richard Griffin and Damian Grimshaw introduce their new paper, Fair care work. A post Covid-19 agenda for integrated employment relations in health and social care, published yesterday by King’s Business School. Lead author, Professor Kessler, is Deputy Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce. (908 words)

The courage and sacrifice of the health and social care workforce have emblazoned themselves on the national consciousness as the challenge of COVID-19 continues. While classified as ‘key workers’, along with other occupations essential to the community in times of crisis, the distinctive contribution of frontline care workers, reflected in their direct and relentless engagement with the virus, has until recently been reflected in the Thursday night applause reserved for them. This public applause sits uneasily, however, with the treatment of over two million health and social care employees, mostly women, often from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, typically in undervalued, relatively low paid and insecure employment. In a new paper, we seek to kick start a policy debate on the development of fair care work, to stimulate discussion on a refreshed employment relations (ER) agenda which acknowledges and reflects the worth of care workers to our individual and communal well-being. Continue reading

The Challenge of Self-Isolating in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Emily HillIn this blog, Emily Hill from Harbour Housing, a homeless charity in Cornwall, describes how their service has supported people living in temporary accommodation to leave hospital safely during the pandemic. She highlights some of the challenges in making sure everyone has the opportunity to self-isolate when living in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (903 words)

Harbour Housing provides supported accommodation across Cornwall for people with multiple and complex needs, including those who have recent experience of homelessness. The accommodation is provided in what are called Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Residents have their own rooms but share communal areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Clinical advice and guidance on reducing the risk of infection and severe illness among the homeless population as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) is clear that HMO’s could pose risks. In order to reduce these risks, the guidance suggests that individuals should be provided with their own room and bathroom facilities wherever possible. Where this is not possible, providers should make best use of provision and should undertake regular cleaning of shared facilities.

Hygiene zoneThe first step in Harbour Housing’s response to keeping residents safe from COVID-19 was to provide everyone with an information briefing, ensuring staff had time to talk through any concerns. Video screens in the properties also relayed NHS advice about hygiene and hand washing. Washing facilities and hand dryers were installed in the entrance lobby at each building. This meant that everyone had the opportunity to wash their hands before entering the property. In addition, thermal imaging CCTV cameras were installed to read the temperature of every person entering the building. This was to ensure that symptoms could be caught early. Continue reading

Action on Elder Abuse is now Hourglass

Richard RobinsonAction on Elder Abuse recently relaunched as Hourglass. As a research team we at HSCWRU have long taken a strong interest in this area, so we are very pleased to post this piece by Richard Robinson, CEO of the charity, in its new guise, and as it nears its 30th birthday. (760 words)

On 24 March 2020, as a nationwide lockdown was announced in a bid to protect UK citizens from the coronavirus pandemic raging across the world, Action on Elder Abuse relaunched under the name Hourglass.

While the timing was extremely challenging, the rebrand was a necessary effort to mark the start of the charity’s new course as a modern, public-facing organisation building on our almost thirty years of experience. If we were to modernise and become sustainable as a charity, we had to redefine ourselves so that we could successfully champion safer ageing and break down the barriers that foster age-related vulnerability.

The Hourglass mission is simple: end the harm, abuse and exploitation of older people in the UK. Continue reading

How are older people coping with digital technology during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr Nayyara TabassumDr. Nayyara Tabassum is Evidence Officer in the Centre for Ageing Better. (749 words)

Online grocery shopping has made lives very easy. With just a few clicks, you can order everything from a fridge to hand sanitisers (if there’s any in stock!). But I didn’t realise how challenging that could be for some sections of people. A couple of days back, while chatting with my 76-year-old neighbour John, he mentioned how difficult it was for him to place online grocery orders. As a first-time online banking user, his card activity was flagged as suspicious and by the time he managed to get verified, he lost his delivery slot.

There are so many older people like John who have had to rely on using the internet for the very first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks need to make the authentication processes easier, especially for first time digital shoppers. According to 2019 ONS figures on internet users, almost half the UK population of people at 75 and over (47%) have never used the internet. The fact that John uses the internet at all is quite fortunate. The good news is that internet use in the 65-74 age group is increasing – it rose from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019, and the current situation is likely to speed that increase. Continue reading

The COVID-19 Effect On Flexible Working: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Dr Nayyara TabassumDr. Nayyara Tabassum is Evidence Officer in the Centre for Ageing Better. (828 words)

In the UK, as soon as the lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson in his televised address on 23 March 2020, one of the first things a lot of employers did was to announce that all staff would need to start working flexibly, with immediate effect. Overnight, companies that did not even have a flexible working policy, reviewed their policies and allowed employees to start working from home.

Research vs Pre-COVID Reality

While research has always shown the business benefits of flexible working on employee productivity and wellbeing, there was not enough buy-in from employers and there were lots of misconceptions and stigma attached to flexible working.

Now with the COVID-19 outbreak, employers have wholeheartedly adopted technology for staff to continue working remotely during lockdown. Job sectors, such as the insurance and banking sectors, which were previously quite averse to flexible working, also allowed staff to work flexibly during the lockdown. The results of this flexible working experiment thanks to the pandemic was that a lot of job sectors are now acknowledging that businesses can continue as usual even when staff work flexibly from home. Continue reading