The Coronavirus lockdown is affecting people in many different ways, but it can be particularly difficult for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. They often need routine and structure, which has been disrupted as we’re no longer able to go out and about, visiting the usual places, doing the usual things. People with learning disabilities may not fully understand why their life has changed, or may not be able to verbalise their frustrations. We are supporting them in various ways:
Everyone is different so we are supporting all of our service users according to their own needs and abilities. This can involve using non-verbal communication techniques such as Makaton, TEACHH or the PECS picture exchange system to explain the situation and what we need to do to stay safe.
We’re being creative and introducing new structures and routines to keep everyone calm, entertained, safe and happy. We’ve been able to welcome back Martin the Music Man, whose music sessions enrich the lives of the service users in many ways. He’s been singing and playing his guitar in the gardens of the homes, while maintaining a social distance.
We’ve also had several birthdays to celebrate recently so we’ve made them special with garden parties, pamper sessions or parties in the homes with balloons, cakes, treats and gifts.
Many of our service users with learning disabilities have been with us for years, so we have a deep understanding of their likes, dislikes, needs and preferences. They have developed trusted relationships with our care support workers, which means that we are better able to support them in difficult times.
Feedback from families
We are also keeping in touch with their loved ones and are very grateful for the feedback we have received from families. Here are some examples:
“We spoke on the telephone this morning and I am writing to you to reiterate what I said to you on the ‘phone…
“There was a feature on this morning’s TV News about the very difficult time many autistic people and their carers are having during the Covid-19 lockdown. As I watched it, I was reflecting on how very fortunate we are that our son is in your care and that he is being so well looked after and even more importantly, kept safe. We are truly thankful for your care and for the brilliant work your staff at all levels are doing at during these difficult times. Please circulate this letter to your staff or post it in a prominent position so that all can read it…
I just wanted to write to you as a parent of one of your residents to say how very grateful I am for the care you are providing for my son and the other residents during these difficult times. I know you are doing your very best not just to care for our loved ones but to provide them with as varied and stimulating a time as possible. I know that, like all of us, you are concerned about your own safety and well-being of yourselves and your families and this makes us doubly grateful for the excellent work you are doing.
I hope that you and your families remain well and look forward to being able to resume my regular visits.”
“Dear Jane [Service Manager]
I’m writing to say how thankful I am for the care my son has received while having another chest infection. He’s fine now thanks to your great staff. It must be so hard to keep everything germ free.
What really prompted me to contact you is the great idea of the cafe/tuck shop in the garden. That must make all the difference for everyone to go outside in the sun with their little coupons and buy something. I’m sure there are many challenges with everyone inside. Anyway thanks to all of you for a great job.”
We would like to thank all of the families who have sent in messages of support or gifts, and of course, thank our wonderful team of managers and staff. They are being amazingly positive, creative and dedicated, working hard to support our service users with learning disabilities, complex needs and acquired brain injury in these difficult times.