The Autonomy Project Research Team is working actively with its partners to research support policy makers and practitioners in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please feel free to contact our team (firstname.lastname@example.org) if we can provide research support in the context of the pandemic.
Rapid Response Webinars with NMCF:
Between April 2020 and June 2021, the Autonomy Project hosted a series of Rapid Response Webinars with the National Mental Capacity Forum. Recordings of the Webinars can be found here.
In a year-long research project, Essex Autonomy Project team has examined the impact of COVID-19 on human rights in care homes in England and Wales. This research took place between November 2020 and November 2021 and was funded by AHRC.
Between March and May 2021, the team conducted an online survey and a series of focus groups with professionals working in or with care homes during the pandemic.
Some of our key findings are that:
- restrictions on movement and visits, though aimed at protecting residents, often had an adverse impact on them;
- the pandemic caused confusion about the role of frameworks designed to protect residents’ human rights:
- often professionals were unsure whether deprivations of liberty aimed at protecting others rather than the individual required a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation;
- Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) usually worked remotely, and at times they were unable to access care homes even when they deemed a visit necessary;
- participant reported large differences between the ways different care homes managed restrictions;
- care professionals expressed a desire for guidance that was more specific, and suggested that divergent approaches between care homes were partially due to guidance being very open to interpretation;
- there was an apparent increase in the use of “Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation” (DNACPR) decisions at care homes during the pandemic,
- and DNACPR decisions at times influenced medical decisions beyond CPR – for example, some participants reported they were used to deny transfer to hospital.
The team has also responded to public controversies raised by the pandemic, such as ethical and human rights issues raised by pandemic triage and the use of Covid Status Certifications (“Vaccine Passports”).
Below is an overview of our Covid-19 research outputs to date. (A few more are currently underway.)
Updated November 2021
Article: Human rights and Covid-19 triage: a comment on the Bath Protocol (Journal of Medical Ethics)
Book chapter: Discrimination, triage and denial-of-treatment: lessons from Covid-19 in the UK (Validity Press)