The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have especially hit support workers. All of those within the healthcare sector have a critical role to play in keeping the most vulnerable in our society safe – from nurses, occupational therapists, personal assistants, and social workers, to caterers and cleaners.
Around 1.5 million people work in the adult social care sector within England alone and social care and support workers are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 when compared to the general population. Social care has benefited from the £1.6bn emergency funding diverted to local authorities and a £600m infection control fund for care homes. However, there are still challenges impacting all adult social care service users, including those living with learning disabilities, autism, and epilepsy.
Reductions in Care Capacity
Supported living schemes are having limited contact between residents due to shielding guidance for home placements. This is reducing the social contact and stimulation required for mental and emotional well-being, as well as limiting the lifestyles of service users.
Some homes have implemented technology-based alternatives. Technology can be a temporary alternative to face-to-face support to maintain vital contact. Service users can communicate with each other over video conferencing software, as well as support workers and families using these services to deliver activities and check the needs of those needing support.
Healthcare Units as ‘Hotspots’
In healthcare units, locations with movement of workers and communal living, it is not practical to shield or isolate people as required for lockdown guidelines. The disruption caused by these changes can have a significant impact on service users and has seen decreases in function and capabilities. These disruptions can lead to challenges for those with complex needs.
The use of monitoring devices in home units may sometimes best support people to remain in their accommodation safely, and the implementation of hands-free communication methods means that friends, families, and professionals can freely interact with service users. Remote consultations with medical staff could benefit unwell residents and keep effective channels of communication open.
Continuity of Care
Long-term social isolation is having a detrimental impact on those who are already vulnerable with existing emotional or well-being issues, thus increasing demands for support and health services that are already stretched.
The provision of hardware and software to those who may not have access to technology can be used for communication and well-being. Extending the use of ‘befriending’ services across these digital channels means that those who are shielding, living alone, or are vulnerable can easily communicate with each other and their support workers.
If you’re searching for care assistant jobs in Southampton, we want to hear from you. We’re looking for dedicated and caring workers to support people with severe learning difficulties, autism, and complex behaviours. Whether you’re experienced in the sector or you’re looking to start, we can help you start a fulfilling career.