Bethphage Reflections 2020

2020 has certainly been a challenging year! When we reflect and consider the difficulties faced over the past 6 months, we feel both incredibly proud and humbled by how well our staff have stepped up and risen to the challenges.  

When the pandemic arrived, there was so much for us to absorb, understand and overcome very quickly and all this was coupled with fear. Fear that our colleagues and the people we support could contract the virus and become seriously ill. Fear we could run out of PPE and not be able to protect the people we support and our staff. We work in Social Care, we understand the importance of social interaction for all of us so we feared how would some people we support cope with the lockdown restrictions, lack of social interactions, changes in in their routine.

This fear has not gone away, the virus is still with us and currently on the increase again however we feel much better equipped to deal with the challenges as we have learnt so much over the past 6 months. We have seen how dedicated our staff are, they have adapted and changed how they work finding creative solutions because they really do care and want the best for the people we support. While many millions of people were either furloughed or able to work from home, our Support Workers did not have that option, they made no fuss and went out every day to give the best possible support to people in their homes.

 

Keeping in Touch:

While our day opportunities have had to temporarily close due to Covid-19, the teams adapted to ensure they stay connected with the people they support and their communities; creating innovative ways of supporting from afar and keeping everything ticking over throughout lockdown.

Support workers from closed day centres collecting and dropping off PPE

We kept in touch with the people we support by:

  • Regular phone calls to “check in” with people we support, parents and carers
  • Setting competitions for people to do at home e.g. grow biggest tomatoes
  • Stay connected using Facebook – picture and video updates
  • Tailored activity packs – dropped off at people’s houses
  • Virtual quiz
  • Craft demo’s online
  • Baking with Janet over Zoom
  • Bed time stories online (library)

 

New Opportunities:

We encouraged people we support to tried new things

  • Decoupage
  • Zumba – short films created and shared across the organisation
  • Baking films shared
  • Sharing local information e.g. Shropshire wildlife trust feed the birds, local shops that deliver
  • Sensory equipment – Susan enjoying the stars
  • Writing songs and poems to help explain the current situation e.g. “don’t stand by me”

At some of our supported living accommodation we created special outdoor spaces for the people we support. They had their own, personalised outdoor patio with table and chairs, hanging baskets and pot plants.   We also set up a shared communal out door area so they had the option to mix safely with friends and family outside (when they were able to do so) Those people that liked going to the pub, we brought the pub to them!

 

Sharing Lockdown Times:

We were loaned an OMI Projector by Shropshire council which we have shared across our supported living services. This is a fantastic resource which both staff and the people we support have embraced, especially during lockdown and offered a new tool for our staff to utilise to benefit the people we support in many different ways including: 

Reducing Levels of anxiety – having something new and fun to focus on took people’s minds away from their anxieties and gave them a goal.

Alleviate boredom – during lockdown there was tight restrictions on what people could or could not do. The projector gave people something to look forward to doing, especially when the weather was bad.

This in turn helped their emotional well-being as it made people happy & excited. It helped improve social skills and team work, people had to work together to join teams or individually. It really helped mobility by stimulating people we support to move around and exercise in a way that did not really feel like exercise.

 

Team Work – Recruitment:

The coronavirus pandemic & subsequent lockdown completely changed how we were able to recruit. Social distancing meant that we were unable to continue our face-to-face recruitment. The challenge was set, we needed to ensure the recruitment process continued and find a way to conduct interviews safely for our staff, the people we support and the candidates.

 With the HR team creating a system that would work, our managers soon jumped on board and rose to the challenge.

 This new process enabled recruitment to continue safely and allowed managers to focus on their services and other challenges brought on by the pandemic.

 

Staff Communication:

We capitalised on our pre-existing internal communication system, “Workplace”.  At the beginning of the lockdown we decided to use it as our forum to communicate to our staff our key messages about coronavirus, to communicate important information and boost staff morale. We set up a specific group for this purpose to share examples of our staff going above and beyond, sharing new and different ways of supporting people, inspiring and motivating others to do the same.  We have been really impressed with how our staff have engaged with this and ironically the lockdown has helped Bethphage feel more connected though sharing on workplace. Colleagues in Oswestry get to see what is happening over in Walsall.

Thankful Thursdays – we set up a weekly “thankful Thursday” post someone nominate a colleague or team each week and we post a thank you every Thursday for their great work.

Workplace for people we support – we have set up a workplace group for the people we support, providing them with a safe place to connect with one another and share experiences in a safe place.

 

Giving Thanks:

We are very grateful to our staff, management and trustees who have risen to the challenge in such unprecedented times.  Most importantly we are incredibly proud of the people we support who have made the best of the situation and kept us all smiling with their photos and optimism in rising to new challenges.

With love & best wishes for 2021…

Bethphage Team

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