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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family carers in the community: A scoping review

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the closure or reduction in support services for family carers, resulting in increased social isolation and stress for this population. Objectives: The current scoping review aimed to identify the impact of COVID-19 upon carers and support provided for them during the pandemic. Methods: Four online databases (CINAHL, Medline, PsycINFO and PubMed) were systematically searched on 16th December 2020 and updated on 16th July 2021 for articles written in English and published after January 2020, focused on the carer and the impact of COVID-19. Google scholar and reference lists of relevant papers were checked, and key authors were contacted for further relevant information. Results: The database searches identified 976 citations, which resulted in 670 unique articles following the removal of duplicates. Title and abstract screening identified 63 articles for full-text review, 11 of which were subsequently excluded, leaving 52 articles which were subject to inductive thematic analysis. Four key themes were identified. Whilst a number of issues were identified that were exacerbated by the pandemic, others directly resulting from it were revealed. Few studies discussed support measures for carers and only one trial evaluated an intervention. Conclusions: This review identifies the impact of COVID-19 on carers, but there is a dearth of evidence to inform appropriate tailored support. Governments need to identify carers as a priority group in social care reform and commission co-produced, evidence and experience informed pathways to reinstate support services, potentially modelled on pandemic plans following the example currently being considered for the paid healthcare workforce.

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Health & Social Care in the Community
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