NHS Covid-19 app launches in England and Wales

The government’s new contact-tracing app has been officially released and everyone living in England and Wales is being urged to download and use it.

NHS Covid 19 app launchesThe NHS Covid-19 app is designed to be used by all those over the age of 16 with a smartphone and records a user’s postcode district, informing them of the risk level in their local area. It also features the latest government guidance. Along with security threats, all this information can be difficult to manage. To avoid health care organizations and services can try user compliance software for healthcare to effectively manage the user lifecycle.

The app allows users to log their own symptoms and instructs people to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects that they have been near to someone who has the virus. A countdown clock will be triggered to help people keep track of their isolation period.

Users can check in to public venues, such as bars, restaurants and hairdressers, by scanning an official NHS QR code. This then enables the app to alert the user if they have visited an outbreak hotspot.

Hospitality and leisure venues must now display an official Test and Trace poster featuring a QR barcode assigned to them, or face fines of £1,000.

The app also enables coronavirus tests to be ordered where relevant, with users able to automatically get the results.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the app was a “helpful tool” in the fight against coronavirus and told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“Everybody who downloads the app will be helping to protect themselves, helping to protect their loved ones, helping to protect their community because the more people who download it, the more effective it will be.”

It has been confirmed that the private notification from the app for users to self-isolate will be treated as “advisory” rather than mandatory because authorities cannot legally enforce something that cannot be proved.

the fight against coronavirus includes many toolsDuring initial trials, the app was limited to over-18s only but the age limit has been lowered to ensure that all students in further education colleges and universities can use it.

The new age limit is in line with that of the Protect Scotland contact-tracing app.

The launch follows reports yesterday (Wednesday 23rd September 2020) that there had been 6,178 further confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, up 1,252 from Tuesday, and 37 deaths.

The app had been primed for release months ago but design issues and the addition of extra features meant its final public test could only take place in August.

Will people obey the app?

Some critics have questioned the impact of the app.

Speaking to the BBC, tech expert Rachel Coldicutt said: “If you don’t have symptoms, will a push notification saying you were near someone a week ago make you and your family self-isolate and spend days hitting refresh on the testing website trying to find a test?”

Other limitations of the app are that it is available only on smartphones – not tables, smartwatches or other devices – and it cannot be used on some older handsets.

The app can be purchased from Android’s Google Play or Apple’s App Store but handsets must have Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or iOS 13.5 (released in May 2020) and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. It won’t work on iPhone 6 and older versions of Apple handsets and some of the latest Huawei handsets are also excluded.

Greater contact tracing

Automated contact tracing through the app is designed to complement the human contact tracing work, and will make people aware of encounters with strangers who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Users can anonymously share a positive test result through the app and this initiates a process whereby other users’ smartphones check if they have recently detected the infected person’s handset. There are concerns, however, that this process is not always accurate and could lead to “false positives,” with people being instructed to self-isolate when they were never actually at risk.

However, calculations on the app have now been adjusted to take into account when the infected person was at their most contagious and health chiefs believe this will minimise the issue.

Boosting downloads

It’s now believed that the biggest hurdle faced by officials is getting people to install the app in the first place.

During a recent trial in the London Borough of Newham, an area selected for its ethnic diversity, only 1 in 10 people downloaded the app.

sanitisation remains crucialThe Protect Scotland app, which was released a fortnight ago, has only been downloaded by around 1 in 5 people and even in Ireland, where the most success has been seen, only around a third of people have started using its app since it launched in July.

To boost take up in England and Wales, the major mobile networks have agreed that data used by the app will not be deducted from subscribers’ monthly allowances.

In addition, the app supports a greater number of languages than the original test version, with Turkish, Arabic, Mandarin and Romanian all available and Polish to be added soon.

Covid-19 Secure training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider, delivering a wide and diverse range of high-quality training courses for all industries.

They offer training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics. They can provide remote learning via e-learning, distance learning and webinar training programmes and can provide Covid-19 Secure classroom training through their Covid-19 Secure Pledge.

They have recently launched a COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control e-learning course to provide workers with information in order to minimise, prevent and control the spread of infection.

A trainer from FRT says: “We are learning more about coronavirus all the time and the situation is constantly evolving. There may be no perfect systems but everyone who can should download, install and use this app to ensure its effectiveness and help make the country safer.”

For more information about the training services that they can provide, please contact FRT today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Keeping health workers safe, keeps patients safe

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has helped to promote a key message about how measures to keep health workers safe will also protect patients.

IOSH recently joint hosted a webinar with the World Health Organization (WHO) to reflect on World Patient Safety Day (WPSD).

Keeping health workers safe should be a priorityComing at such a critical time during the Covid-19 pandemic, the webinar focussed on urging governments, organisations and professionals to speak up for health worker safety – explaining that it is a critical prerequisite to ensure patient safety.

IOSH President Dr Andrew Sharman hosted the webinar and was joined by speakers from the WHO and representatives of health worker institutions.

One WHO speaker, Dr Maria Neira, said that special days such as WPSD were important for raising awareness, but added: “[…] we need to keep the interest alive for the long term.”

Dr Neelam Dhingra-Kumar, also of the WHO, said that health workers faced challenges including infections, stress, depression and violence.

She explained: “Those suffering from burnout will not be performing as they would like to and this impacts on patient safety.”

The WHO has introduced a new charter on health worker safety. Discussing this, Dr Ivan Ivanov urged everyone:

“Let’s take good care of those who care.”

Meanwhile, topline results from a recent survey were also shared.

Howard Catton from the International Council of Nurses revealed that over 1,000 nurses have died across 44 countries as a result of contracting coronavirus.

“On average, around 10% of the healthcare workforce is infected. We also found less than half of countries are recognising Covid-19 as an occupational disease,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the International Commission on Occupational Health, Dr Gwen Brachman, highlighted the fact that support staff – as well as those who give care – are at risk and are included in the term ‘health workers.’

She said that a shortage of health workers was actually “the biggest problem,” explaining that this stands at “at least seven million now and this is expected to increase.”

Occupational Safety and Health professionals have an important role to play in protecting health workers and ensuring safety for all.

Julia Johnston of the IOSH Health and Social Care Committee spoke to this point, explaining: “An essential is working in collaboration with colleagues from infection prevention control, procurement and medical staff to provide appropriate advice and PPE that meet the standards required.”

Webinar viewers were told about actions to support health worker safety, which included taking discussions to government, establishing guidelines to develop national programmes, implementation of action plans to support resilience and improved communications.

Christiane Wiskow, of the International Labour Organisation, commented:

“Sad as this pandemic is, it’s an opportunity to really make the point that well-functioning and resilient health systems are key to the health of populations.”

You can find out more and view IOSH’s series of Covid-19 webinars online.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider. They deliver a wide and diverse range of high-quality training courses in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, manual handling, health and social care, mental health and other special focus areas.

They provide training in subjects such as Role of the Care Worker, Infection Control and Prevention, and Health and Safety Essentials.

They are also approved by IOSH to deliver IOSH certificated courses in Working Safely, Supervising Safely and Managing Safely.

To find out more about any of their training programmes, please call freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Adult social care workforce grows by 9%, new report shows

A new report from Skills for Care has shown that the number of adult social care jobs in England has increased by 9% since 2013.

The adult social care workforce has grown again this yearThe annual ‘Size and structure of the adult social care workforce in England’ report found that there were 130,000 (or 9%) more jobs in the sector in the year 2019-20 compared with 2012-13.

This means that there are now 1.65 million adult social care jobs.

The report also contains projections that state that, if the adult social care workforce expands proportionally to the number of people aged 65 or over living England, there will need to be 2.17 million jobs within the sector by 2035 in order to meet demand – an increase of 520,000.

Although the number of adult social care jobs continues to increase year upon year in England, the rate at which they are increasing has actually slowed.

The report shows that the workforce grew by around 15,000 jobs per year between 2014-15 and 2019-20, compared to an average increase of 26,000 jobs per year between 2012-13 and 2014-15.

Shift in adult social care employment

The type of jobs within the sector has also shifted.

The report shows that the number of local authority jobs has fallen by 25%, or 37,000 jobs, as part of a longer-term shift towards independent sector jobs, which increased by 11% or 130,000 jobs over the same period.

There's been an increase in domiciliary care jobsSince 2013, jobs within domiciliary care services have also increased at a faster rate – growing by 15% or 95,000 jobs – than those within residential services, which only grew by 4% or 25,000 jobs.

The number of registered nurse jobs within the sector has significantly declined since 2013, falling by 30% or 15,500.

The report utilises data from Skills for Care’s Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS), which is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and includes data provided by 20,000 frontline employers in the sector.

The data for this year’s report was collected prior to the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in England. Skills for Care have advised that it therefore does not reflect how the pandemic has impacted the adult social care workforce.

Shortfall in the social care sector

The report indicates a shortfall between the number of people working in the sector and the total number of jobs available.

Although the number of people employed in adult social care also increased, the report shows the workforce only numbers 1.52 million people despite there being 130,000 additional jobs available.

The report also estimates:

  • There were 18,200 organisations involved in providing or organising adult social care in England
  • Around 38,000 establishments provided or organised adult social care services
  • There were 70,000 recipients of direct payments employing their own care and support staff

The CEO of Skills for Care, Oonagh Smyth, commented:

“We are grateful to all the employers who have contributed their data because as we start to think about what the adult social care sector will look like after the pandemic it is vital we do that based on the gold standard data in this report.”

She added that the report served as a “reminder” for all “of the vital role our growing workforce will play in any future reform of our sector and their skills, knowledge and commitment to person centred care will support people to live the lives they want to.”

The full report is available to download online.

Care workers are key workers

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national provider of high-quality training services. They deliver health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, manual handling, health and social care, mental health and other special focus courses. They can offer training via face-to-face, classroom style learning, e-learning, webinar sessions or distance learning manuals and can also offer public courses at their venues across the UK.

Care workers are key workersTheir extensive health and social care range is mapped to national occupational standards, the Care Certificate, the Skills for Health Core Skills Framework and relevant legislation and further guidance.

All courses are also based on the values of person centred care.

A health and social care trainer for FRT says: “If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that health and social care workers are key workers; they provide a valuable service in this country and are a dedicated, passionate bunch.

“As a workforce, they need continued support and training to be able to continue to fulfil their challenging but rewarding roles.”

For more information about any of the training courses that FRT can offer, please contact freephone 0800 310 2300 or info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Youth Mental H

Britain has seen ‘explosion’ in anxiety in past decade, study reveals

A new study has found there has been an “explosion” in the number of people experiencing anxiety in Britain since 2008.

One of the biggest studies of anxiety undertaken in recent years indicates that the mental health problem has trebled among young adults and now affects 30% of women aged 18 to 24.

Rates have also risen across the board for men and women aged under 55.

Profound increase in anxiety

Researchers have suggested that the financial crash, austerity, Brexit, climate change and the rise of social media have all contributed over the last 10 years to create an anxious nation, and that the current coronavirus pandemic will lead to further increases in the disorder.

They analysed 6.6 million patients at 795 GP practices across the UK to examine the trends in diagnosis and treatment of anxiety since 1998. Anxiety has become so common that Anxiety Rings have become a usual thing. They uncovered “a profound increase” in anxiety, which began in 2008 when the worldwide financial crash resulted in large-scale unemployment and financial insecurity.

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study findings include:

  • In 2008, 8.42% of women aged 18 to 24 experienced generalised anxiety disorder. This had more than trebled to 30.33% by 2018
  • During that decade, the proportion of women aged 25 to 34 with anxiety more than doubled from 9.08% to 21.69%
  • Smaller increases were also noted in women aged 35 to 44 and 45 to 54
  • Fewer men aged 18 to 24 were diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder than women. This has remained the case throughout the decade, but cases still trebled among young men from 4.95% in 2008 to 14.88% in 2018
  • The proportion of men aged 25 to 34 with anxiety also doubled from 9.08% to 21.69% and rose to a lesser degree among those aged between 35 and 54.

Anxiety the “human cost” of recession

Lead researcher Professor Nick Freemantle explains: “Rates of anxiety crept up a bit from 1998. But suddenly there was this explosion in 2008 in both the absolute numbers and also in particular in women, and especially in young women. That’s when the increase went through the roof.”

He asserted that the research findings reveal the “human cost” of the recession, which saw widespread unemployment, and particularly youth unemployment.

Young men are also affected by anxietyDiscussing other contributory factors for the “steep increases”, Prof Freemantle added: “During this period [2008-2018] we had a recession, a vote to leave Europe, which was not popular among young people, social media became ubiquitous, there was increased concern about the climate, and there was a change of attitude towards anxiety disorder.”

Freemantle is a professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and director of the Comprehensive Clinical Trials Unit at University College London. He also commented:

“Given the steep increases in anxiety revealed by this research, and the sheer number of people affected, it is now clear that Britain has a really serious and worsening problem with anxiety, which can have devastating effects on people’s lives. And these data stopped just before the Covid-19 pandemic; we can only speculate on how they would look now.”

Generational divide

The sharp rise in generalised anxiety disorder coincided with an increase during 2009-14 in the number of sick days workers in England and Wales took off due to anxiety, stress and depression.

Nearly two thirds (62%) of those with anxiety also experienced depression.

The findings also show a clear generational divide when it comes to anxiety. Incidences of anxiety had not risen among those aged 55 or over, and it is suggested that this is because that age group tend to be less affected by the economic factors that can trouble young adults.

Unequal Britain = anxious Britain?

The deputy director of the Centre for Mental Health thinktank, Andy Bell, said the study findings were “significant” and “really point up the need to understand the economic and social reasons why anxiety has been rising.”

Coronavirus may lead to increases in anxietyHe cautioned against simply blaming social media, adding: “Rates of common mental health difficulty are higher in more unequal countries and Britain has become more unequal since 2008.”

Experts are now concerned about the impact that the current coronavirus pandemic will have on the growing rates of anxiety.

The deputy chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, Brian Dow, said: “Uncertainty is a normal part of life, but the Covid-19 pandemic and its quartet of uncertainties – illness, isolation, unemployment and debt – are bound to put rocket fuel under the level of anxiety that many people feel.

“There is clearly a systemic problem in the growth of anxiety and depression amongst younger people. If we are to reverse this trend an prevent a problem becoming a crisis, the social contract we provide to young people has to have a better set of terms and conditions.”

Raise anxiety awareness with training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering a wide range of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, health and social care, mental health and other special focus courses.

FRT’s mental health training range includes courses in Anxiety Awareness, Anxiety and Phobias, Bipolar Disorder Awareness, Suicide Awareness, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, which is an accredited Level 2 Award. FRT can also offer a distance learning manual in Understanding Mental Health for added flexibility and remote learning, and short Mindfulness Sessions for organisations.

Training can help raise awareness of anxietyA mental health trainer for FRT says: “Although it is alarming to see that so many people are experiencing mental health problems and that levels of anxiety have skyrocketed, it is also positive that more people are feeling able to come forward to seek diagnosis, treatment and support.

“With any mental health disorder, it’s incredibly important that people receive practical and emotional support and appropriate treatment, and that they feel able to talk about their experiences.

“We are getting so much better at this as a nation, and we will probably need to improve further and ensure we are educating people across the board to be more supportive and aware if we see the rise in mental health problems expected as a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

For more information about any of the training courses that FRT can offer, please contact them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.