In supporting service users with learning disabilities and acquired brain injury, we are used to helping people face challenges and finding ways to overcome them. This means that our brilliant management team and care staff are well-placed to meet the challenges that the Coronavirus is posing right now. They are finding solutions to reduce the risks in our homes while maintaining the quality of life and well-being that we strive to achieve for the people in our care.
We have always enabled our service users to lead happy, healthy lives and fulfil their potential by providing person-centred care. We recognise that each person has individual needs and adapts to situations in different ways. Some people are finding the current situation particularly difficult as they require routine and stability. We are supporting all of our service users with clear communication and reassurance so that they understand, and are not fearful of the changes we are making. We are doing what we can to maintain a sense of normality and structure within each home, while changing activities to keep everyone safe.
These are some of the steps we are taking to reduce risk:
- Cleanliness within the homes is always important, and we have stepped up our cleaning and disinfecting protocols to increase safety.
- Care staff are following clear handwashing and other hygiene procedures and we have clear procedures in place should we suspect that there is a case of Covid-19 within a home.
- As many of our service users require frequent orientation due to short-term memory problems because of an acquired brain injury, we are supporting them to wash their hands on a regular basis.
- All service users are staying within their own home and garden.
- Care staff rotas are managed so that staff only work within one home and office staff are being redeployed to cover external providers or those self-isolating, so we can minimise the number of different people coming into each home.
- All non-essential visits to the homes have been suspended.
Creating a feeling of belonging and participation in the local community are among our key principles. Unfortunately, the wealth of community activities in which our service users took part is not possible at the moment. However, each home is a community in itself, with service users and staff creating a family environment. This has never been as important as it is now. We have been so impressed with the staff morale and the way our service users are embracing some of the changes.
Our care support staff, administrators and admissions team are all coming up with creative ideas to keep our service users active, engaged, calm and happy during these difficult times. Activities are wide and varied so that there is plenty to suit everyone. They include: ‘pub quizzes’, bingo, craft activity, yoga, relaxation and meditation, table tennis, football, PE with Joe Wicks, gardening and lunches in the garden. You can find more information about these activities on our social media channels and blog posts over the coming weeks.
The families of our service users are naturally concerned, so we have been communicating with them in various ways to demonstrate that life in the homes goes on with minimal disruption. We’re using Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, emails and letters, sending messages and photos to keep in touch and reassure them. This is some of the feedback we have received.
“Thank you so much for keeping in touch with us all and thank you to all the staff there who are doing a wonderful job keeping things going through this.”
“Thank you so much for passing on our note and for your reassurance.”
“We are living in a difficult time and we hope you and your staff are doing all you can to look after yourselves. My thoughts are with you all.’
We are hugely grateful to our staff and management for their hard work and commitment during this challenging time and we are very proud of them all.