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Many practices and methods of accessing or delivering services have had to be significantly altered since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the ‘New Normal’ project aims to collect the learning that has been generated as a result.
The disruption caused to services and practices, while difficult, provides the opportunity to re-evaluate how well these were actually working for individuals with learning disabilities and their families prior to the pandemic. Our ‘New Normal’ survey ran throughout September and October 2020, asking open questions to family carers of individuals with severe learning disabilities and to those working in healthcare, education, disability or other relevant services. The survey aimed to collect their views on how well the practices and services instituted to meet the demands of the pandemic compared to what came before, and what new forms of ‘good practice’ they may have experienced.
The survey findings have been broken down into four short reports:
New Normal – Good practice examples
This paper discusses the instances of ‘good practice’ instituted or experienced during the pandemic – the new methods, practices or services which respondents reported as beneficial, both during pandemic conditions and beyond them. These examples of good practice cover a range of fields and sectors, while the paper also discusses what may be needed to make these practices sustainable in the long-term.
New Normal – Healthcare and mental health
This paper covers the policy and practice recommendations made by and for those working in healthcare and mental health services, based on respondent’s experiences of how these services have operated during the pandemic. The paper, which employs datasets of quotes collected from responses, covers a range of topics including COVID-19 specific healthcare issues, new methods of delivering healthcare services, and access to/provision of mental health support to meet increased mental health needs.
New Normal – Social care
This paper outlines the information collected which relates to children’s and adults’ social care. Methods of delivering services or accessing social care had to be adapted greatly under pandemic conditions, and this paper summarises the positive and negative aspects of new/changed practices employed. Using datasets of quotes collected in responses, the paper covers a range of topics and makes policy and practice recommendations for workforce, housing, and service design/delivery.
New Normal – Communications and Education
This paper includes information and reflections relevant to communication practices and education services, combined in a single paper as they covered interrelated issues – online delivery of services, meeting communication needs, and social interaction. The paper employs data collected from responses, making recommendations for policy and practice based around ensuring that individuals with learning disabilities and their families have access to education services and communication methods which meet their needs.
The CBF’s ‘New Normal’ project ran parallel to research undertaken by SF-DDARIN, wherein interviews were conducted with a number of family carers to investigate in detail their experience of the pandemic and lockdowns. The findings of these interviews are being processed for publication.