Health and Social Care > Health Inequalities

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Deep-seated problems facing the residential and nursing care home sector have been compounded by the impacts of the pandemic, underfunding and the cost-of-living crisis. This study aims to investigate how patterns of access to registered residential and nursing care places changed in the period spanning lockdowns and demonstrate how spatial analytical techniques can be used to examine the potential impacts of ongoing pressures on geographical patterns of access. Findings identify variations in access to provision hidden within aggregate figures that can help stakeholders monitor the current and projected availability of places as part of an overall package of care provision.

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The COVID-19 pandemic imposed the suspension of many care services, and families had to choose between adhering to lockdown measures or caring for vulnerable relatives. This study revisits the Informal Care Model by explicitly incorporating the role of changing circumstances during the pandemic to understand care provision by adult children. Using nationally representative data from the UK, statistical analyses reveal that the usual suspects, such as women, were more likely to undertake additional care tasks. However, they also highlight new enabling factors for care provision that have arisen from the pandemic, such as the ability to work from home.

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Words matter, especially in times of crisis. This article analyses the complexities of political discourse on vulnerability by considering the case of the Dutch COVID-19 response. Our study finds that the framing of vulnerability as a predetermined and naturalised condition, linked to old age and pre-existing medical conditions, draws attention away from aspects of precarisation tied to economic position, social class, cultural background and living conditions. This rhetorical strategy can be understood as a practice of de-responsibilisation through which attention is rhetorically diverted from the way(s) in which political authorities are implicated in producing, exacerbating or failing to mitigate vulnerabilities.

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Family carers of people with dementia have reported increased caring demands during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore seven family carers’ accounts of dementia caregiving one year into the COVID-19 pandemic in England in relation to carer resilience. Themes describe the complex challenges of caring during the pandemic, with interviewees burned out and ‘caring beyond capacity’ due to unmet needs within the caring role, therein highlighting the limitations of building individual resilience only. Timely practical support for carers is essential to protect their well-being and to ward against the potential consequences of carer burnout.

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In response to COVID-19, many care homes closed to visitors and new ways for carers and residents to stay in touch were tried. This UK study employed an online survey to explore carer experiences of staying in touch from a distance. The research highlighted: the importance of ongoing connections (through visits and remotely); diverse approaches to maintaining contact; and concerns about safeguarding and well-being. Findings underscore the importance of developing personalised approaches to staying in touch during future care home closures and for those who require an ongoing approach to remote contact due to distance, illness or additional caring responsibilities.

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This study investigates the lived experiences of multiple sclerosis family carers during the COVID-19 pandemic and explores the impact of the pandemic on psychological resilience processes using a socioecological framework. Following thematic analysis of interviews, two main findings emerged: first, behavioural vigilance intended to mitigate viral spread eclipsed carers’ needs and deprived them of support resources; and, second, multiple sclerosis carers harboured resilience via practices of gratitude and leveraging interpersonal relationships. Future action is needed to develop public crisis responses that integrate multiple sclerosis carers’ needs, including improved care-continuity models, the alleviation of social isolation and advancements in multifaceted wellness preservation.

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Home care service providers have been considerably affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Since the beginning of the pandemic, their internal organisation has undergone important changes, including in terms of time schedules, to adapt to the needs of the older population and those of workers. In most cases, they had to reduce the provision of services, either because care workers – the majority of whom are women – were no longer available to cover the shifts, or because families had cancelled the services. In other cases, they had to meet increased demand. The most dramatic consequences were borne by female care workers, who had to combine working time adjustments with family obligations. Drawing from the material collected before and after the impact of the pandemic in Belgium, which includes interviews with public and private home care providers, this article explores the consequences that time adjustments had on frontline care workers and on the organisations themselves.

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