Covid-19 and inequalities

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Richmond on Thames undertook an equalities review of their research and insight on the impact of Covid-19 for the Equalities and Human Rights Network.  They looked at the experiences of 2,500 people.

They identified a number of key themes:

  • Digital exclusion is not limited to having access to a device and the internet but also having the support and skills to do new tasks online.  Those who couldn’t were reliant on community support but this wasn’t always available during the pandemic.
  • Carers faced many challenges during the pandemic, including reduced respite care and face to face support, and getting priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • People living alone had less support than before the pandemic, and exacerbated their feelings of isolation. For those in the LGBTQ+ community, the isolation from their community and friendship groups was particularly acutely felt because some people had experienced breakdown of family support.
  • People who were shielding were particularly hesitant about reengaging with face to face activities including essential appointments.
  • Overall young people were very resilient, but those still at school experienced an increase in school stressors.  Younger people also experienced digital exclusion as they were likely to lack the privacy needed to access care online.
  • Maternity care changed substantially during the pandemic.  For pregnant people with English as a second language, not being able to be accompanied to appointments by their partners caused difficulty with communication and increased anxiety.
  • LGBTQ+ people spoke about higher mental health needs during the pandemic and lower levels of support from their community.  LGBTQ+ safe places closed during the pandemic reducing the opportunity to get support.
  • People from minority ethnic communities felt there was a lack of multi-cultural awareness in the borough. Many people were unaware of the opportunities available to them across NHS, care and wider community support and therefore unable to take advantage of them.

There were 5 recommendations about digital services, better and more targeted information, the need for safe places, additional support for carers and increased mental health services.

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General details

Report title 
Covid-19 and inequalities
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Richmond upon Thames
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 1 June, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 1 April, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 28 February, 2021
Key themes 
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Cost of services
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities
Health protection
Holistic support
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Other (please specify)
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
Equalities and Human Rights Network
Primary research method used 
Engagement event
Structured interview
Unstructured Interview
User stories
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Inpatient care
Mental health services 
Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Social care services 
Adult social care
Home care / domiciliary care

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Sexual orientation 
Other population characteristics 
People with limited family or social networks
Refugees or asylum seekers
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Not known
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.