IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


New project to examine the pandemic experience of children who need complex medical care

1 April 2021

A project jointly run by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and Osaka University has just begun exploring how children who need complex medical care have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.

Man helping child put on face mask

The project, led by Dr Carol Rivas (Social Research Institute), is using a mobile application so children can show the research team directly, through uploaded videos, images and texts, their lives under COVID-19, especially in relation to school and home life. The team is also conducting online interviews and surveys with parents, the children and specialist nurses.

Osaka University’s lead is Professor Beverley Yamamoto, UNESCO Chair in Global Health and Education. Dr Ikuko Tomomatsu in Japan conceived the original idea for the project. Yuki Sugawara is the Osaka project researcher.

Findings from the project will be translated into practical, real-world guidance for children, families and support services. The team is especially interested in finding out what has worked well for families and support services during the pandemic.

This research is funded by an Osaka-UCL grant. Also taking part from the IOE are Dr Amelia Roberts and Laura Paulauskaite, a PhD student in the SRI (IOE), with support also from two MSc students.

Dr Carol Rivas said: “Children who need complex medical care typically have multiple chronic conditions, functional limitations and medical technology dependence. The impacts of the pandemic have been multiple in terms of their healthcare access and service provision, the available support from the welfare system, and the conditions under which education can or cannot be accessed.

“These children and their families are not specifically considered in most policy. Nor are they part of most considerations about how people with disabilities are managing during the pandemic. So, this small project is important to give them a voice. We have designed the study so it does not take up much time for children and families, and children are finding it fun to do.

“The project provides an opportunity to learn from the Japan experience, where considerations of this group are more advanced. Our partnership with the Osaka UNESCO Chair means that we are already planning to build on this small study to have an international impact.

“As recruitment has begun in Japan, we now want to recruit families and their support staff in health and social care in the UK."

Professor Beverley Yamamoto said "This project is important because it allows active participation of the children and their families through the use of a digital app. While we have created the tasks, the children decide what to show us from their world and how to explain it to us".

If you know of someone who would be interested in taking part in this study, please contact Dr Carol Rivas at ioe.chia.study@ucl.ac.uk.



Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels