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Working in care through COVID-19

This year has been extremely challenging for the people we support, their families and friends and our staff. We had to quickly change the way we support people to continue to keep them safe whilst prioritising their wellbeing and safety.

Our person-centred care plans are based on routines. A routine helps residents and service users grow and develop independent life skills. When the national lockdown was announced, we had to plan and provide updated information to our teams. We wanted to make sure our staff had all the information they needed to follow new rules and guidelines. So that they could continue to provide the best possible care in a new way, even when routines were disrupted.

Our amazing staff, who are real super-heroes, came up with creative ways to keep up routines. They worked incredibly hard to ensure they were up to date with the rules. Our services worked collaboratively with the local services by having regular virtual meetings. These were important and really helped keep team spirits up and showed great team work!

Neil Devine is a Branch Manager at Voyage (DCA) North 3, a Domiciliary Care service. This service supports people with learning disabilities. We spoke to Neil about what it was like working during lockdown.

What were your concerns when lockdown was announced?

“How the people we support were going to react. We work with people who have challenging behaviours. We thought that lockdown was going to trigger a negative behaviour, especially when they’re not getting out as much as they used to. We also thought that personal protection equipment (PPE) was going to affect the relationship between the people we support and our staff. PPE was something new for everyone, including the people we support. They couldn’t see our faces like they usually did. We thought that this might trigger some challenging behaviour. We explained to the people we support what PPE is, how we were going to wear it and how it will make us look different. By taking time to explain everything the people we support understood and got comfortable with staff wearing PPE.”

How did you work with the people we support to help them understand lockdown rules?

“We explained the changes to the people we support and re-assured them that we would still work with them on their daily routine. This helped them understand and prepare for the changes. By keeping them in the loop of what was going on really helped them understand and prepare for all the changes we’ve faced this year.”

What have you used to keep up to date with the rules for COVID-19?

“We have a mailbox where you can send questions and any concerns by email. Group Support, our head office in Lichfield, literally within seconds, zoom back with answers. We’ve never felt once that we’ve been out on the limb. We’ve had the support there all the way through.”

How did you change the way your service worked this year?

“We made sure we followed the rules and implemented changes straight away. We have an operations call every week, with the operations manager. The managers lead the meeting and we discuss the challenges that we’re all facing, things that are working and share  best practice. This has helped us come together as a team and support each other. Working collaboratively has really helped us get through this year. Voyage Care put things in place very quickly so that we could focus on doing what really matters, supporting vulnerable people.”

Visit our COVID-19 resource area to find out more about how we are managing COVID-19 safely.

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