Coronavirus (COVID-19): supporting people at higher risk - qualitative research

Findings from interviews with representatives of 16 local authorities across Scotland, exploring how they have been supporting people at higher risk during COVID-19.

Annex A: Interview Topic Guide

Helpline for people at high risk of Covid-19: qualitative research topic guide

Local authority:

Interview date:

Person/people interviewed:

Interview conducted by:

The Scottish Government is keen to develop understanding of how the response to the Coronavirus pandemic is supporting people who are at risk but notshielded to get the essential help they need to stay safe. This includes people who have higher medical risk factors such as being aged over 70, receiving an annual flu jab for respiratory and other conditions, or being pregnant. It also includes people who need support for social or economic reasons.

We are keen to understand which non-shielded at risk people are contacting local authorities for Covid-related support (whether via the Scottish Government's National Assistance Helpline or direct through local authority numbers), what support they are getting and how support is being provided locally.

Are you content for me to record this interview so I can listen to your responses again for research purposes? This recording will only be listened to by Scottish Government social researchers and will be destroyed within one month.

This research includes up to 16 Scottish local authorities. Findings will be reported to Scottish Government policy officials and Ministers, and made available to local authorities.

The report will not name you individually. Your authority may be named when describing processes, call profiles and good practice examples. This is to enable learning between local authorities rather than make comparisons. We are interested in hearing about challenges and will be careful to ensure findings which are more sensitive do not identify particular authorities. This will help build a national picture and allow us to consider collectively how we provide support.

The interview is expected to last for up to one hour.

Any questions about the research?

1. Please describe how incoming calls are handled in your local authority?

a. Can you distinguish between calls from the national helpline and those coming through your local numbers?

b. What information do you record and how?

c. How many staff operate the helpline?

d. What is your role?

e. Do you provide a call back service?

f. Can residents contact you in other ways, for example online? How does this work in practice?

g. Who do you see the helpline as being for primarily?

h. How do you deal with shielded people who call through these helplines? How do you report this in the weekly returns to SG?

2. Please can you tell me about which people call for support who are not shielded?

a. What is the demographic profile approximately e.g. age, gender, disabled people etc.?

3. What support are non-shielded people seeking?

a. How does this vary between different groups?

b. Are callers clear on what they need or seeking support generally?

c. Are callers requiring multiple kinds of support?

d. Do you get repeat callers, for example if their needs have changed? Why do think that is?

e. Are callers requesting unrealistic support?

4. What kinds of support are you providing, including referrals to other organisations or council services?

a. Which groups to?

b. How long does it usually take?

c. Do you do a warm handover (i.e. pass on details to the organisation and they call or contact the person or know to expect a call) or are callers being given other numbers to contact directly?

d. Are there barriers or challenges to providing support? For particular groups? Would you know if your referral system for support wasn't working?

e. Have you received any feedback from callers on this support?

5. Please can you describe how you work with your local resilience partnerships and third sector partners to provide support to these at risk groups?

a. Which partners do you work with and for what?

b. Are there any challenges?

c. Has there been any learning about collaborative working that you will take forward into the future?

6. Do you think the support is helping at risk people to get the essential help they need to stay safe?

a. What do you think has been most successful?

b. What has been less successful? For which groups?

c. What could be done differently?

d. Are there other ways Scottish Government could help?

7. Do you have any other comments you would like to make?

Thank you for your time. If I need to clarify any of the things you said, would be okay if I came back to you?


How to access background or source data

The data collected for this research publication:

☐ may be made available on request, subject to consideration of legal and ethical factors. Please contact for further information.



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