Supporting place-based approaches to improve the health of people disproportionately impacted by COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19

Current research suggests that certain medical conditions and their severity, history or treatment can leave some people at greater risk of developing severe complications from coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are also seeing emerging evidence that existing health inequalities are leaving certain communities more vulnerable to COVID-19. According to a recent report by The Health Foundation, people experiencing the greatest deprivation are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and existing poor health puts them at risk of more severe outcomes if infected by the virus. Preexisting poor health outcomes among black, Asian and ethnic minority communities in the UK is potentially leaving people among these groups at higher risk of dying from COVID-19.¹

These health inequalities, combined with the clinical implications of COVID-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic, look likely to increase the numbers of people vulnerable to infection and severe outcomes from COVID-19. Together they will also likely impact the way the health and wellbeing of people living in the South West is managed.

We are working with our partners in health and care across the South West to support innovative place-based approaches to identify and support the health and wellbeing of communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Our work so far

  • Routing innovation directly to where it’s needed
    We’re working with NHS England’s personalised care team to source hardware for people vulnerable to COVID-19 who live across the South West without access to the internet or technology they need to access support online.
  • Evaluating change and learning
    We are inviting organisations from across the South West to share their insights on effective place-based responses to COVID-19. Our initial call has already generated over 160 responses, including those from the local charity and voluntary sectors working tirelessly to support people in care homes and the community vulnerable to COVID-19. Read the first insights from Volunteer Cornwall, Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum and SNUG here.We’re also capturing learning and insights from test beds belonging to our Institute for Social Prescribing, leading the way in supporting vulnerable communities during the pandemic. Read the first of these case studies showcasing the work of the community partnership One Ilfracombe in North Devon, which has organised a sustainable volunteer support system in the seaside town where a large population of vulnerable older people and significant deprivation exists.
  • Sharing knowledge locally and nationally
    Together with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Wellcome Trust we are ensuring the voices of the vulnerable are still heard at a time of social distance. Through our Quality Improvement Partner Panels (QuIPPs) we're sharing our skills in online patient and public involvement with these national health and care bodies and others trying to virtually engage patients in their projects.

What’s next?

We are identifying places in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly across which to spread innovative place-based approaches to support people disproportionately at risk of COVID-19.

We are in the process of supporting the health and care teams in these areas to better understand the health inequalities affecting resident and patient outcomes, and to capture and share learning and best practice across the region and beyond.

¹ Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, Public Health England (June 2020). Read the full report here.