Next steps for day centres in south London as they reset, rebuild and renew from the COVID-19 pandemic

Kritika Samsi

Dr Kritika Samsi

Jill Manthorpe

Prof Jill Manthorpe

Kritika Samsi is Research Fellow at the NIHR  Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce. Jill Manthorpe is Director of the Unit and Professor of Social Work at King’s College London. (1,013 words)

People working in the ARC South London Social Care theme contributed to the first thematic symposium (a webinar meeting) on 17 February 2021, that had the title Inside research: How applied research is tackling health and social care challenges and inequalities in south London – seminar series. The overall theme was Responding to Covid-19 pandemic. We focussed on how we have been Helping adult day centres to ‘unlock’ lockdown. Jill Manthorpe and Rekha Elaswarapu described this with illustrations of the different day centres across South London and some feedback on how our guidance was developed as a unique resource. We then took part in three small groups to discuss the following questions, with Caroline Green, Kritika Samsi and Katharine Orellana also helping with these discussions:

  • How are day centres recovering? What helps?
    – Is it likely that some may never re-open?
    – Do you have any experience or sense of how day centres have coped with the pandemic?

Continue reading

Cleaning, catering and housekeeping staff in care homes: shining a light on their contributions during Covid

Kritika Samsi and Caroline Norrie, Research Fellows at the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, introduce a new study at the Unit. (329 words)

Kritika Samsi

Kritika Samsi

Caroline Norrie

Caroline Norrie

Housekeeping staff in care homes – cleaners, those working in kitchens, laundries, maintenance – are often forgotten but are the backbone of many care homes. What happened to them during the coronavirus pandemic is the subject of a new research study. Researchers at the NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London (KCL) have received NIHR Policy Research Programme funding to investigate the experiences and challenges of these care home workers during COVID-19.

Housekeeping and catering staff have been crucial during the coronavirus crisis given their role in infection control, food preparation, and help with social distancing. But they tend to be overlooked. What they have done and the challenges they faced during the crisis are often hidden. Many are women with families, work part-time, and on shifts, and often are from migrant or minority ethnic backgrounds. We know they are not well paid. Some sadly died from the virus. We want to find out whether and to what extent these workers were prepared and supported in their roles during the pandemic. This will help meet a gap in knowledge – how to better support this staff group work to prevent coronavirus, help those with it, and with service recovery. Continue reading

Toolkit for reflection on human rights in the context of social care

Caroline Green is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. (709 words)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of human rights for people needing care and support in care homes or at home, their carers, families and friends became evident. Care home residents, especially people with dementia, were one of the groups who were and still are most severely affected by the virus, with thousands of deaths from a COVID-19 infection not only in England but many countries around the world. The need to protect people requiring care and support and to balance infection control – thus the basic rights to health and life – with the right to a private and family life and to social participation was but one of many examples of a human rights issue that we as a society had to face during this pandemic. Conversations around these topics are often difficult.

Human rights as enshrined in international and national law, notably the Human Rights Act, are directly relevant to people requiring care and support, service providers and care workers. Not only is every human being entitled to have his or her rights respected, protected and implemented but the English legal and regulatory system for care providers also makes them directly relevant in care settings. However, human rights are more than a legal concept. They are also a moral concept, which can help to build a social care system and determine the way care is provided. Human rights in social care is therefore a broad topic, with many different ways of approaching it in conversations, training and research. Continue reading

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic inequalities in health and social care – Have your say!

Introducing a King’s College London study examining inequalities experienced by people from racial and ethnic minority groups working in health and social care during COVID-19. (570 words)

Prof Stephani Hatch

Leading the study: Stephani Hatch, Professor of Sociology and Epidemiology in the Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London

We have launched a study to help improve working conditions and to tackle the inequalities experienced by people from racial and ethnic minority groups working in health and social care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based at King’s College London, we are working in partnership with NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard, NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Nursing. The study findings will be used to develop education and training materials (e.g. Virtual Reality training) available nationally to all staff, specifically to better support and improve the workplace experiences of NHS and social care staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic has shone a light on existing inequalities that have a great impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. These communities are approximately 14% of the population in England and Wales, yet they have had greater exposure to the virus and are more likely to have poorer outcomes, including severe health complications and death. We have also seen that higher numbers of racial and ethnic minority health and social care workers have died from COVID-19. Despite making up 21% of the NHS workforce, 63% of those who died from COVID-19 were from racial and ethnic minority groups. What is less often known and discussed is that health and social care staff from racial and ethnic minority groups experience greater levels of workplace harassment and discrimination compared to other staff and these experiences have been compounded by the pandemic. This can have long-lasting effects on their health, wellbeing, and their ability to do their job. 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

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

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

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