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England’s social care sector during COVID-19: a situational analysis

2022 Conference Presentation

9 September 2022

England’s social care sector during COVID-19: a situational analysis

Nina Hemmings, Nuffield Trust , United Kingdom

Natasha Curry, Nuffield Trust
Camille Oung, Nuffield Trust
Adelina Comas-Herrera, London School of Economics and Political Science


Objectives: This research was commissioned by the NIHR, to investigate: "What can we learn from international evidence and experiences in order to support the recovery of the social care sector and to inform the development of policies to prevent and manage future outbreaks in social care settings in England?". In this session, we will present the findings of our situational analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on social care in England and underlying systemic factors at play that shaped the response.


- A series of 17 semi-structured interviews undertaken during Spring and Summer 2021, with sector leaders, organisations representing the views of people who draw on care, unpaid carers, the paid workforce, providers of care, commissioners of care and those across national governmental and non-governmental bodies with a role in administering the system;

- A targeted document review conducted between October 2020 and November 2021 (comprising guidance and Standard Operating Procedures, reports, briefings, blogs and articles, and noteworthy press releases);

- Two theory of change workshop sessions held with stakeholders from across the social care sector, identified through a comprehensive mapping exercise, which sought to identify key structural and systemic issues that need to be addressed if the social care system is to effectively recover from covid-19, and strategies to ensure the system is more resilient in future.

Results: This research identified a number of underlying faultlines within the social care system that explained the shape and impact of the response in England. This included a lack of clarity over accountability; long-standing underinvestment in care facilities, technology and infrastructure; and deep-rooted workforce issues.

Conclusions: There are a number of priority areas that need to be addressed if the social care system in England is to effectively recover from covid and become more resilient. These priority areas form a framework through which we have selected countries which hold pertinent learning for England.