16. Impact on services
Planning children's services in times of local lockdowns (England)
Councils in badly affected areas in England have spent the summer putting in place contingency plans for maintaining support for children and families in the event of a second wave of COVID-19. For example, every child in touch with Birmingham Children's Trust has a risk assessment in place to inform decisions about contact. In Lancashire, the council is working with school leaders to ensure free meals are maintained if a child is unable to attend. And in Greater Manchester, the combined authority has provided laptops and wifi connections for vulnerable children if they are unable to attend school and agencies hold daily triage meetings to consider domestic abuse notifications and agreed response. Priorities include continuity of education for children in areas worst affected by the virus, particularly children living in areas of deprivation, and adequate testing regimes in place to avoid staff and child absences in schools in particular. Helpful adaptations include a continuation of flexible working practices and redeployment of the workforce and more proactive partnership working.
This is an edited excerpt from the Children & Young People Now October edition.
Source: Public Health England
Date: 02 September 2020
Public Health England (PHE) has published a report on public health approaches to improving outcomes for vulnerable children. The report looks at identifying and meeting needs, reducing risk and building protective factors. It also outlines PHE resources that can be used to inform multi-agency approaches to addressing childhood vulnerability. PHE have also published an additional report describing the extent and nature of vulnerability in childhood in England: No child left behind: understanding and quantifying vulnerability (PDF).
Date: June 2020
This report summarises learnings from paediatric practice during the pandemic, focusing in particular on the elements of practice to keep and take forward into the future. It is based on rapid qualitative research with both paediatricians and children and young people across all four nations of the UK, along with a range of supplementary data. 57 Young people aged 11-25 were involved through 9 online workshops representing 11 different youth organisations, 8 of whom were based in Scotland. The key findings are briefly summarised below:
- Emerging priorities for children and young people were health messaging (young people have felt excluded from COVID-19 messaging), not being forgotten (young people felt their needs have not been prioritised) and confidentiality (both in relation to remote and face-to-face support).
- Young people expressed feeling that they didn't want to bother the NHS, or to cause any fuss when there was a pandemic to consider, which aligns with the data around delayed presentations.
- Children and young people want there to be a strong focus on wellbeing, resilience and mental health support in recovery planning. A need for support for bereavement due to COVID-19 was identified, and resilience and wellbeing support in schools.
- The pandemic has created the conditions for practices previously thought to be unworkable - such as tele clinics and working from home – to be possible. The use of new technologies will, however, need to be evaluated when thinking about how to sustain them. It will also be crucial to ensure that technology is safe and accessible for all.
- For children and young people, there were positives and negatives about remote consultations (phone/video). For some, it provided greater support and access (e.g. by removing transport barriers) whilst for others issues were raised around lack of privacy in the home and connectivity. Overall, however children and young people wanted the choice of delivery to be continued.
- The increased use of technology to interact with patients and families was valued. Local patient surveys have identified convenience, lack of need to travel and overall less time taken as key benefits.
- COVID-19 has transformed all of our working lives in ways we would never have imagined or predicted. New ways of working have helped the paediatric community support each other and allowed paediatricians to stay connected with their patients, supporting continuity of care and relationships.
The report identifies the key changes from this period that their members would like to hold on to and take forwards into the future. These include increasing use of remote technology, particularly for triage and outpatient work and recognising the importance of taking care of our staff wellbeing. This report is the first in a series of publications from the Paediatrics 2040 project.
Family Group Conferences (England)
Source: Research in Practice (Fulcrum Family Services)
Research in Practice has published guidance on how to conduct socially distanced and hybrid family group conferences (combining physical attendance and video conferencing).
The Carnegie Trust has published its Learning from Lockdown: 12 Steps to Eliminate Digital Exclusion report. The report sets out a series of 12 recommendations calling for ambitious action from policy makers, practitioners, academics and industry to tackle this issue. The recommendations draw on learning and reflections from the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown period.