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“Clinicians are having to creatively consult in different ways to still assess and manage tricky situations as best they can”. IRISi interviewed leading researchers and key specialists to talk about the impact of the pandemic on Domestic Violence and Abuse in the UK – and here are 3 responses to our Look Beyond campaign questions from Dr. Lucy Potter, Academic GP


As we continue with our “Look Beyond the Pandemic” campaign, IRISi interviewed leading researchers and key specialists to talk about the impact of the pandemic on Domestic Violence and Abuse in the UK. Here is what Dr. Lucy Potter, academic GP, told us. She also runs an outreach clinic for street sex working women as part of the Homeless Health Service and conducts research into domestic and sexual violence and health, and access to primary care for women with complex needs.

Dr. Lucy Potter, Academic GP
Dr. Lucy Potter, Academic GP

1) How did the pandemic change the health care response to domestic violence and abuse? What were the main difficulties that clinicians had to face once the lockdown was put in place?

It is exceedingly rare for a patient to present outright that the issue they want to discuss is domestic violence and abuse. It generally needs to be sensitively and skilfully elicited, often over a period of time or a number of consultations. Healthcare services had to respond quickly to limit transmission risks of COVID-19 by quickly switching to remote access (phone or video call) to triage and limit who needed to physically come to the space. The immediate loss of routine face to face interaction meant healthcare professionals lost a key aspect of communication we rely on. It is now much harder to see those ‘soft’ signs that might alert us to consider asking more. If we do consider asking more we have to navigate this with less certainty of who might be listening in the background and the very real safety concerns around this. Clinicians are having to creatively consult in different ways to still assess and manage tricky situations as best they can.

2) How did the pandemic affect marginalised women and women facing multiple disadvantage?

For many reasons the pandemic is worsening inequalities. Women facing multiple disadvantage often carry and manage a high level of risk. When they are well engaged with a service or professional that is meeting some of their needs this risk is, to an extent, shared and supported. Women facing multiple disadvantage are less likely to have both the practical capacity (phone with credit, computer with video access, safe space to have sensitive discussion, ability to perhaps wait for a while in this situation for a call back) and the trust/ rapport/ self-confidence necessary to be able to access meaningful remote support. The pandemic has brought challenges to everyone, but if you are already carrying a high level of complex disadvantage the impact is even greater.

3) What has the pandemic taught us about the primary care response to DVA, especially concerning this particular group of women? Were there any new findings that only became possible due to the pandemic?

Mainstream primary care is still incredibly busy, and will only be more so with potentially delivering the COVID-19 vaccination hopefully very soon! While healthcare professionals largely do their best to support more vulnerable patients who access primary care, they can’t see those who don’t make it over the hurdles. The pandemic has made these women less visible to mainstream services. As part of the Homeless Health Service I have shifted to reaching out further, by collaborating with One25 on their outreach van to provide support to some of Bristol’s most marginalised women on the street. The healthcare provision that is possible in this environment is certainly limited, but it has increased engagement with some highly vulnerable individuals. As we move away from lockdown and indoor face to face services become more normal again, it is vital that we do not forget those who struggle to even get through the doors.

Dr. Lucy Potter is an academic GP. She runs an outreach clinic for street sex working women as part of the local Homeless Health Service and conducts research into domestic and sexual violence and health, and access to primary care for women with complex needs.

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Partners

AVA
AVA
AVA

AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.

Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to  inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse

developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse

using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project

https://avaproject.org.uk

SafeLives
SafeLives
SafeLives

SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.

http://www.safelives.org.uk/about-us

IMKAAN
IMKAAN
IMKAAN

Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.

They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.

https://www.imkaan.org.uk

The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.  It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

A dedicated team of researchers at the Centre work on domestic abuse projects and IRISi is a co-collaborator and partner on some of these projects including ReProvide, HERA and DRiDVA.

The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.

We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.

https://www.health.org.uk

STADV
STADV
STADV

Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe

Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.

STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.

Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.

http://www.standingtogether.org.uk

Spring Impact
Spring Impact
Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.

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