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

From desk to doorstep

Living well with dementia is important, though there may come a time when initiating social contact becomes a challenge. For some people living with dementia there may be increased isolation. For those living with a partner or family and friends, as dementia progresses their daily care needs may be hard to manage or support.

Attending a day service which offers stimulating activities, whilst at the same time providing respite for family carers, benefits not only the person with dementia, but also helps families continue their support.

The COVID-19 lockdown brought an end to this overnight.

Foreseeing the psychological or emotional consequences of the loss of day centre support, one day centre has switched to offering daily support via phone calls to its former attenders and their carers. Additionally, as day centre staff have great experience in providing ‘customer care’ to relatives, they quickly became part of the COVID-19 Emergency Shielding Residents Response. Continue reading

International Women’s Day, 8th March 2020: Remembering the achievements for health and social care of some great women in South London

Caroline Green, who is NIHR ARC South London Post-Doctoral Fellow, reflects on the lives of prominent women figures in the health and social care context in South London. (838 words)

International Women’s Day is an annual celebration of the achievements of women and a day to put special emphasis on raising awareness of gender bias and taking action for gender equality. Women contribute significantly to England’s health and adult social care. The adult social care workforce is dominated by women, with 83% of the workforce being female. In 2017, 77% of NHS health workers were women. However, beyond “holding up” England’s health and social care system, women have revolutionized it at many points in time. This blog post looks back at some significant female figures in South London, who have shaped health and social care either directly or indirectly. This list is of course not exhaustive. Countless women with a diversity of backgrounds are driving today’s health and social care provision in South London and have done so for many years. Yet, the stories of the women below offer an indication of the rich female history of health and social care in this part of London:

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Florence Nightingale is widely considered the founder of modern nursing and a social reformer of health and social care. She first gained prominence as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, looking after wounded soldiers. In 1860, she established the nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, the first secular nursing school in the world, and now part of King’s College London. Many say that Nightingale here laid the foundation of professional nursing, with the International Nurses Day celebrated annually on her birthday. Nightingale’s social justice work extended to the abolition of prostitution laws, advocating for hunger relief in India and expanding acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce. Continue reading

Is the answer to the NHS workforce crisis right in front of its eyes?

Richard Griffin MBE,Visiting Senior Research Fellow, King’s Business School, today begins a series of guest posts on the healthcare workforce. He argues that, in the face of the widely acknowledged problem of shortages in this workforce, we should turn to current NHS support staff for part of the solution. (477 words)

Workforce is the biggest challenge facing the NHS. Not only is it short of 50,000 nurses, it also needs more podiatrists, midwives, radiographers and a host of other occupations. Total vacancies are approaching 110,000.

Whilst the government is committed to addressing this shortfall, a key question is – where will all those extra nurses, podiatrists, midwives and radiographers come from? Continue reading

Hourly ward rounds may not be the best way for nurses to deliver care: findings from a new nursing study

Professor Ruth Harris works in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King’s College London. (458 words)

The widespread practice of intentional rounding (IR) in England may not the best way for nurses to deliver care and IR makes a minor contribution, if at all, to the way nursing staff engage with patients. This is the main finding of our study that was commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Intentional rounding is a protocol of standard regular checks with individual patients at set intervals and was introduced in hospitals in England in 2013 as part of the government’s response to care failures in the NHS, most notably at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust. Continue reading

A National Workforce Plan for Approved Mental Health Professionals

Stephen Martineau was at a day conference last week focusing on a new national workforce plan and proposals to introduce AMHP service standards as well as changes to the AMHP competencies. (1,030 words)

Recent empirical research at this Unit on the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) workforce has focused on why so few in the eligible health professions are taking up the role. AMHPs are responsible for organising and undertaking assessments under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) and, where statutory criteria are met, authorising detention under the Act. Traditionally a social worker role (they were formerly known as Approved Social Workers), it has been open to occupational therapists, learning disability and mental health nurses, and psychologists since November 2008. But about a decade since these professionals were enabled to become AMHPs, they still only make up around 5% of the AMHP workforce. Continue reading

National study starts of new nursing role

How can the new Nursing Associates help resolve some of the workforce recruitment and retention problems in health and social care? A new King’s College London-led study is finding out the answers to this question and it will also be seeking the views and experiences of patients and people using care services of these new staff. The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, will be the first to gather information, statistics and experiences of the new Nursing Associates in practice and from people supporting them. Continue reading

Promoting the importance of human relationships: hospital social work

Jo Moriarty, Senior Research Fellow at the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London introduces the new hospital social work report, which she wrote with Dr Nicole Steils and Prof Jill Manthorpe. World Social Work Day is on 19 March 2019 #WSWD2019 is the official hashtag. (602 words)

Mapping Hospital Social WorkThe theme for next week’s World Social Work Day is ‘promoting the importance of human relationships.’  In preparation for this we are launching our report into hospital social work, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme at the request of the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo.  Lyn has also kindly written the report’s foreword.

The origins of hospital social work lie in the decision made by the Royal Free Hospital in 1895 to appoint Mary Stewart as the first ‘lady almoner’. Her role was to interview people to decide who would be eligible for the free medical treatment that the hospital provided.  Other hospitals soon followed this example and by 1948, the Institute of Almoners had over 1000 active members.[1]  Written in the style of the time, Flora Beck’s textbook for almoners noted that their two key tasks were:

… to determine whether social problems are likely to have a bearing on the patient’s illness. The second is to make the patient feel that here is a person with whom he could, if necessary, discuss his personal difficulties; someone to whom he need not mind admitting any trivial misunderstanding which had been bothering him, and to whom he could reveal serious and confidential problems without embarrassment.[2, cited in 3] Continue reading

Cameos of Care Homes: stories from social care Vanguards

Jess Harris is Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. She led the Cameos of Care Homes project. (616 words)

Six ‘Vanguard’ areas across England have been developing approaches to enable care homes to better support the increasingly complex health needs of their residents. These six, focusing on ‘Enhanced Health in Care Homes’, were among 50 Vanguard pilot areas (2015 to 2018) tasked with developing models of care that can be sustained and replicated across England, helping the health and social care system tackle financial pressures and rising demands.

A recent National Audit Office (NAO) report has examined the Vanguards’ impact so far, in terms of value for money, and concluded: ‘there are early signs of a positive impact on emergency admissions’. However, at this early stage it cautions that ‘the longterm impact and sustainability of Vanguards is still not proven’. (page 47)

Staff members taking part in ‘Cameos of Care Homes’

Continue reading

The Role of the AMHP: A Fool’s Errand?

Caroline Norrie and Nicole Steils are researchers at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit (SCWRU), King’s College London. (618 words)

The identity of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) was the subject of a joint SCWRU and Making Research Count seminar held on Thursday, 23 August 2018, at King’s College London (KCL) as part of the Contemporary Issues in Mental Health series.

Dr Caroline Leah

Dr Caroline Leah

The presenter, Dr Caroline Leah, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University, discussed findings from her recently completed PhD about the role and identity of AMHPs, as well as enabling the audience, many being practising AMHPs, the chance to participate in lively discussions throughout the seminar.

An AMHP is a professional who is authorised to make certain legal decisions and applications under the Mental Health Act 1983; their powers include sectioning service users. This professional will usually be a social worker, who has undertaken additional training. In 2007, however, the law was amended to allow other mental health professionals to train for and to undertake this role. It is therefore now possible for psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists or psychologists to qualify as AMHPs, although this is still unusual. Continue reading