Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on children, young people and families - evidence summary October 2020

Summary of Scottish and UK evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of children and young people.

12. Physical health and wellbeing

COVID-19 &Us - views from RCPCH &Us (UK wide)

Source: Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health

Date last modified: August 2020

RCPCH &Us is working with young people to reflect on their experiences of COVID-19 and the lockdown. The work began in May and will continue through this year. Insights from the research will inform recovery planning. To date the research has involved 60 young people from all four UK nations who have participated in focus groups in May and June 2020 - exploring healthcare experiences during lockdown, including virtual services. The common themes were:

  • Burden – associated with making tough choices about accessing healthcare, confinement at home and increased anxiety.
  • Choice – appreciation of being able to access health services in person, on the phone or online, and would like this choice to continue.
  • Resilience – requests for more mental health support, dedicated school time to reflect on the experiences and increased support around loss, both for bereavement but also missed milestones.
  • Planning – to include children and young people in recovery planning, to consider how services will resume, and wanting school plans to take into account the impact on futures and missed experiences.
  • Messaging - frustrations about being missed in the messaging and confusing messages from government, including differences across nations. Suggestions included using more short videos, peer to peer information sharing and developing children and young people-focused advice and shielding messaging.
  • Confidentiality: Accessing health services from home has resulted in privacy issues for some young people – suggestions included creating a code word for children and young people to share with health care professionals.
  • Being forgotten: At times children and young people have felt that their needs have been ignored. This view was shared by children and young people shielding in particular who felt all information/support services were aimed at over 70s (see below).

The research includes workshops with children, young people and young adults from a range of backgrounds, including those with long term conditions, from vulnerable groups or with specific health care experiences such as LGBTQ+ young patients. Some common themes from the workshop with young people who have been shielding are:

  • Support the mental health of young people who have been shielding as they integrate back into not-shielding;
  • Improve communication and messages shared about how to shield and what needs to happen when;
  • Make sure support services recognise under 25s are shielding too, so might need extra support. For example, online shopping slots were available for over 70s at the start of lockdown.

COVID-19 and children with cancer: Parents' experiences, anxieties, and support needs

Source: The SHARE Study (Southampton University)

This is the first study to report experiences of parents of a child with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data is drawn from a parent online survey conducted in April 2020 (171 parents completed the survey). The study demonstrated that the majority of parents are worried about SARS-CoV-2, and worried about transmitting the virus to their child. Hospital was no longer felt to be a safe place, and parents were worried about suboptimal cancer care. Parents describe fear and anxiety and the psychological, social and economic impact of isolation as a family.



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