ARC KSS announced two funding calls focused on tackling COVID-19, the first a closed call directly related to the ARC KSS themes of Living Well with Dementia/Healthy Ageing; Social Care, Community and Primary Care; Starting Well (Children and Young People Mental Health), and the second an open call with a wider brief.  

The implementation team supported researchers to submit proposals that met the needs being expressed by the system, and support meaningful public engagement in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. A total of nine projects were selected to receive funding and results are expected within six months.

One of the key objectives of the calls was to enable research to feed into system-wide transformation and reset/recovery planning across the region. 

The research topics 

The following studies were approved in the two ARC KSS funding calls:

• How can community-based care settings for individuals vulnerable to COVID-19 mortality be supported in receiving returning or new clients?

• How has COVID-19 affected the quality of life, wellbeing, and care of people diagnosed with dementia and their family carers?

• Rapid research into the mental health impacts of COVID-19 among children, young people (CYP) and their families in high-risk groups and hard-to-reach rural and coastal communities. 

• How can a community-based volunteer workforce be rapidly and safely implemented, and what is their impact on providing support for self-isolating and vulnerable members of the community during this pandemic? 

• How can services best support care leavers to move on after lockdown? Co-produced guidance by recent care leavers.

• Development and implementation of a living resource to support BAME communities through the life of COVID-19.

• Zoom or Room and COVID-19: effectiveness and guidance for person vs online video interaction guidance session (for people with an Autism Spectrum Condition).

• The ‘remote memory clinic’: responding to real clinical need in times of COVID-19 restrictions. Exploring satisfaction and impact on clinical outcomes related to dementia diagnosis.

• Scalable solutions for reprocessing of respiratory masks to protect health workers during COVID-19.

Wider support 

 In addition, the implementation leads have provided wider support to the COVID-19 response and the recovery and restoration processes in the Integrated Care Systems. This includes supporting system development of new models of care; Digital First Primary Care; research into the challenges of voluntary and community sector who provide mental health services to children and young people across Sussex, and the spread of innovation.

Professor Stephen Peckham, ARC KSS Director, said:

“Over the next six months, we will be listening and speaking with selected people across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. This  includes those caring for people with dementia, young people and families with mental health conditions and other vulnerable communities including Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and those in high-risk groups such as the elderly people living in care homes. This will help us comprehend what life has been like during the lockdown and what could be done to better improve health and care services in their area.”

For more information 

Kath Sykes, Living Well with Dementia Implementation Lead,

Sam Fraser, Primary Care and Community Health Services Implementation Lead,

Becky Sharp, Social Care Implementation Lead,

Becca Randell, Starting Well Implementation Lead,