A social care based evaluation of COVID-19: Understanding workforce response and effects (The SECURE Study)

Catherine Robinson In progress  

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has made increasing demands on the adult social care sector whose remit, scope and forms of service delivery are complex. This complexity and the populations served, render statutory authorities’ adult services and the broader adult social care landscape of providers uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 long-term.

Rapid change has taken place; as the initial crisis begins to subside, it is important to build an evidence base that can inform ongoing planning for the COVID-present and post-COVID landscape in which social care services seek to be effective.

This study is focusing on the impact and the responses at the levels of strategic and organisational planning, operational delivery and individual workforce resilience in response to the pandemic in the Greater Manchester region.

The SECURE study has been designed through a partnership which includes: NIHR School for Social Care Research (Manchester), the Greater Manchester (GM) Health and Social Care Partnership, the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy (GMSWA), NIHR ARC Greater Manchester, the Thomas Ashton Institute, Social Work in the University of Manchester and regional service user and carer partners.

Objectives

The main aim of this study is to explore and understand the medium- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on practitioners and organisations providing social work and social care to adults in Greater Manchester at the levels of:

  • strategic and organisational planning
  • operational delivery
  • Individual workforce resilience

This encompasses:

  • Within organisation strategy and processes (e.g. recruitment, retention, training, support systems, finance)
  • Operational practice and service delivery concerns (e.g. assessment, risk, prioritisation, allocation of resources and models of service provision and delivery)
  • Staff personal and professional impacts (e.g. mental health, well-being, safety, resilience, sickness absence, support needs)

The objectives of this study are to:

  • establish a working example of a regional adult social care COVID-19 response evidence hub that can be replicated nationally and be an open, shared resource in the sector
  • share the anonymised data collected and meta data as rapidly as possible to the benefit of the adult social care sector and other researchers
  • test the feasibility of scaling up the data collection processes and analysis to a national level study.

Methods

This is a mixed methods study. The project will involve an online survey of social care and social work staff in many different locations including voluntary organisations, care homes and local authorities. This survey includes measures of wellbeing.

The research team will look at anonymised data that local authorities usually collect e.g. service user numbers, different kinds of assessment and costs to build up a picture during and after COVID-19. Some people will also be invited for interview so that they can discuss in depth their experiences at two points in time.

The data from this project about social care will be compared all the time with other projects that are about health care using similar measures.