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COVID-19 update 12.5.20 - Government guidance and implications for psychological assessment

The UK government is issuing guidance on easing the lockdown and returning to work.

The guidance for people visiting other people’s homes warns that no work should be conducted in households that show COVID-19 symptoms or where individuals have been asked to shield themselves. When working in people’s homes, discussions should be held before a visit to ask that a two-metre distance be maintained. In-person appointments should still be avoided if possible.

A range of measures have also been proposed to maximise safety in office environments. I am not sure if any specific guidance has been issued regarding visitors to schools and nurseries, but these settings face more basic challenges that need to be addressed before such visits can be considered.

These guidelines have implications for psychological assessment, particularly where children are directly involved. It is difficult to conduct video assessments with younger children and those with behavioural issues, and face-to-face work remains problematic in the home where social distancing may be hard to enforce. It may be possible to meet with children in corporate venues such as solicitors' offices or Local Authority buildings, but this will obviously be subject to these venues having addressed their own safety issues and put relevant measures in place to mitigate risk.

For the time being, therefore, I will continue to work remotely and assessments of children will rest primarily on information provided by parents, carers and professionals in addition to existing reports. I will attempt video interviews with children, but realistically these will vary in terms of how much they can contribute to psychological opinion. Hopefully the situation will ease in the medium term and I will update my working practices as and when that happens.

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