Covid-19 Support

Due to the unprecedented nature of measures being taken by the Government in response to Covid-19, there are many new and developing implications for IPS Services.  We have produced this page to support IPS services which are still operating, as they consider the implications, and explore adjustments that will enable them to continue to support clients, work effectively as part of clinical teams, and maintain links with the wider community.  We will be adding to and updating this post as new information and resources become available, so please do check back regularly.

It is important to note that whilst we have produced this guidance, we recognise that each IPS service will have different levels of involvement in their Mental Health Trusts response to COVID-19 and some of these activities and suggested ways of working may not be possible. The following information is provided as suggested guidance only. We would encourage you to review your own organisation’s policies and protocols in the first instance.

For the latest information about the coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UK GovernmentPublic Health England and the NHS are regularly reporting on the guidance and updates relating to coronavirus.

What does this mean for IPS Services?

As we all know COVID-19 will have a significant impact, not only on the mental and physical health of your service users, but also their employment status and job prospects.

IPS and their host mental health services have an immediate and important role to play in providing reassurance to clients and employers, supporting people with their mental health, helping people to sustain and retain their jobs wherever possible and continuing to help clients find paid work in industries with high demand for workers, such as healthcare, grocery retail, technology, cleaning, and warehousing and delivery.   We are already hearing about many success stories from a number of IPS services across the country who are still successfully supporting people into paid jobs.

It is also worth remembering that once we recover from the virus, IPS services will be instrumental in supporting a return to normality through economic and mental health recovery. Many thousands will be out of work, and will need support to find and retain employment.  

IPS Grow remains committed to supporting the IPS community.  Although there may be some limitations around visits and hands on support that we can offer in the short-term.  We are still very much available to provide practical coaching and support to team leaders and ES virtually.  We will also continue to develop tools and virtual workshops to support services, and will be providing on-line communities of practice in the coming weeks.  

NHS England & Improvement held a webinar/Q&A session specifically for IPS providers, commissioners and other stakeholders to discuss the impact on IPS services. 

Please let us know if you have any ideas about how we can support you, or have some good practice or good news we can share with services.  Your feedback and stories are very much appreciated and needed at this time. Regularly check the IPS Workspace on the NHS Collaboration Platform as a means of communication with the IPS community, and contact your IPS Grow Lead for any specific ideas/needs.

Case Study of Impact:

IPS in action

We’ve put together some tips and guidance to support you in your roles and delivery of IPS service below:

#1 Adapting your approach

For IPS Services (and everyone) the current climate is changing the way we operate with clients, clinical teams and employers on a daily basis.

Services are telling us that their priorities are now:

  • Working with clinical teams to support clients who are very anxious about the virus and its impact, and advising around social distancing strategies.
  • Focusing on keeping those in work going and supporting any benefits issues if people are stepping out of jobs or are going on sick leave, or are at risk of loosing their job.
  • Offers an opportunity to focus on spending more time on vocational profiling, helping people to choose the right jobs and employers to approach now or in the future.
  • Identifying and understanding expanding industries eg on line work, such as healthcare, grocery retail, technology, cleaning, and warehousing and delivery
  • Most services are still taking referrals and still getting people jobs!  We also have new IPS services still moving ahead with their mobilisation plans
  • Many teams are now moving to remote working – this also includes many clinical teams
  • In some instances IPS services staff have been re-deployed into other roles eg NHS recruitment.  Whilst doing this some services are still splitting their time between their IPS caseload and other roles.  

How you provide IPS support, and the support you offer will change, but as always remain positive, proactive and recovery focused. 

#2 Home Working

Remote working will be an adjustment for everyone.   It will be important to have a clear plan around

  • Helping staff plan how they will work at home eg start and finish times, and adjusting roles
  • Making sure staff have the right tools and resources to do their work eg laptops, ergonomic work stations etc
  • How will clinical risk and safety policies will be followed eg can your staff enter clinical notes remotely, if not how will this be addressed eg some services are emailing notes to admin staff, and ensuring that any urgent clinical issues are raised with the clinical team immediately
  • How will information governance processes be addressed remotely
  • How will the ES stay in contact with the clinical teams to ensure referral levels and joint work remains in place with clinical teams and IPS colleagues Communication and team work – it will be important to organise regular virtual meetings, some teams have found regular informal check in meetings to maintain morale are very helpful, or are putting buddy systems in place.   

For those about to start Homeworking – Top Tips include:

  • Set up a “normal” daily routine, making sure you take regular breaks, build in some exercise and have clear start and finish times
  • Create an appropriate working environment
  • Stay Connected with IPS colleagues and your clinical team
  • Plan your days with clear daily and weekly to do lists
  • Have a plan for other members of the household eg school age kids

Some useful resources to support you with remote working during this time include:

#3 Virtual Meetings

Although some services may have already been utilising technology to conduct some meetings this may be a newer concept for both employment specialists and clients. Some tips around virtual meetings include:

  • Conduct the meeting as if it was face to face – the same planning, structure and content should be required
  • Use active listening skills
  • Smile
  • Utilise technology to meet the needs of the client and the meeting you are having
  • Focus on the meeting (limit external distractions (you wouldn’t sit with your mobile phone on the table during a meeting), encourage your client to do the same)

#4 Technology you can use

Remote working is an emerging marketplace and there are a range of free tools, resources and apps you can download to support you during this time. Please liaise with your internal IT departments who will be best positioned to advise you, however, below are a list of our suggestions:

  • Skype
  • Zoom
  • WhatsApp
  • WhatsApp Business
  • Messenger
  • Microsoft teams
  • SharePoint
  • Video call

#5 Employer Engagement

It will be important to keep this high on the agenda.  Much can be achieved via telephone and conference calls. In addition many employers are now introducing a range of technology to support their recruitment processes.

As always, those that are most successful adapt their approach to meet the needs of the employer they are contacting.  

Now more than ever it will be important to keep up to date with the changing labour market and share this knowledge with IPS colleagues and clients.   Make sure you have a clear pitch when approaching employers, and take time to understand their needs, and have the right letters / CVs ready to send to employers after your call, with follow up actions agreed.

#6 Utilising your time

During this period of change there may be times when caseloads are lower than normal and/or clients may be less engaged. There are still lots of ways you can be effective:

Supporting clients

  • For those who are at work it will be important to develop active follow along support plans with clients and employers with regular check ins.
  • It will be important to ensure that clients can access up to date benefits advice if they are moving in and out of employment
  • It will be important that we support clients in managing anxieties about working in the current climate and how they can be over-come any additional barriers
  • Explore assertive engagement methods for those clients who are not engaging eg a joint call with the client and their care co-ordinator, or a family member
  • Spend time fully exploring employment goals and labour market research
  • Encourage clients to continue to upgrade their skills and keep their CVs current through online distance training programmes
  • Have regular check in calls with all clients and employers
  • Review Client CV’s
  • Review client progress to date
  • Create updated action plans
  • Stay on top of administration tasks
  • Check in with your peers and colleagues
  • Complete labour market research in relation to job areas your clients are looking for to ensure that you and your client are fully informed about the best way to get work in the area

Clinical integration

  • It will be important to develop protocols to enable you to still feel fully integrated into your clinical team eg virtual meetings, contact with clinical staff to generate referrals and joint work.
  • Ensuring you can update clinical notes via remote access or other strategies agreed locally.
  • Ensuring there are clear protocols / lines of communication if you are concerned about the health of any of the client’s on your caseload


  • Now more than ever it will be important to stay in contact with key local agencies – local authorities, JCP, employer organisations, chamber of commerce who can all help in understanding current local employment opportunities.

Service developments and training

If there is any capacity within the service, now may be a good time to:

  • Review service literature and paperwork
  • Professional development opportunities (eg complete IPS Grow free e-Learning, talk to your IPS Grow lead about virtual workshops)
  • Start a fidelity evidence folder
  • Self-audit against the fidelity scale
  • Case conferencing with other Employment Specialists
  • Research relevant guidance regarding employment and C-19
  • Create client recovery stories
  • Create personal/service action plans
  • Review service practice around  key areas eg vocational profiling, employer engagement, follow along supports etc

#7 Role of the IPS Supervisor and IPS Service Managers

The role of the IPS supervisor has never been more important, the support you provide to your staff is critical to the on-going success of the national expansion for IPS Services.

Although you may not be able to physically meet with your team, we would encourage you to increase your level of support and supervision.

As well as supporting the individual Employment Specialists this is also an opportune time  to strengthen your links with the DWP and clinical teams

Top Tips

  • Weekly supervisions
  • Daily Catch ups
  • Group supervisors via teleconference
  • Client audits
  • Internal fidelity assessments
  • Review service processes and procedures
  • Promote Ways to wellbeing
  • Consider implications of current climate on performance against targets
  • Produce service action/development/contingency plans

#8 Sharing Success

Now, more than ever it is vitally important that we share our successes with both clients and the clinical team and throughout the IPS Community.

We have already heard of some fantastic work and would encourage you to continue to be a positive force within your team and tell others about the successes that are being achieved daily during this difficult time. 


We have produced this FAQ document to support services, as they consider the implications and look for adjustments to continue to support the clinical teams, their clients and the wider community.  We will be adding to and updating this post as new information and resources become available, so please do check back regularly. 

Guidance for Clients

To access the latest information to guide or direct your clients:

Public Health England (PHE) is leading the national COVID-19 response and providing messaging and advice to the public. You can read the latest Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England advice here

Information around benefits and advice from Ferret Information Systems.

Mental health and wellbeing

It’s important to look after your own mental health and wellbeing during this time too. If you are feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus, some great resources have been put together by various organisations which you can adapt for both professional and personal guidance. These resources suggest some simple things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing at this time. It includes plans for staying at home if you need to self isolate, managing hand washing and anxiety and how to keep up to date with the latest news whilst looking after your mental health.