Emma’s update – April 2020

Emma shares her thoughts for April, and highlights some amazing achievements…

Hello everyone

April is upon us.

The weather couldn’t be more glorious and yet so much of our lives are either on hold… or, in our working lives, strangely intensified as we all focus on doing the very best we can to support everyone in our care.  You won’t be surprised that this monthly update is heavily focussed on COVID-19.  I hope you have found the regular communications (every Tuesday and Thursday) to be useful – these are full of all the information you need and aim to ensure you are kept up to date regularly.  I am conscious that there is a lot to digest and if it feels overwhelming at times, remember that you can always turn to your line manager or your peers for support, you can catch up with information via eLFY and that we have a 24/7 dedicated COVID-19 helpdesk (08000 147 343) available to you if you are worried about anyone you support.

This month, in my update, I want to just focus in on just two areas.  Firstly the amazing work that you and the teams are doing to enable people we support to stay engaged and active and secondly, to touch on your wellbeing and mental health which couldn’t be more important… this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it can be hard to hold anxiety at bay and stay positive when things are really tough – so grab a cup of tea, a brief moment of quiet if you can, and read on.

I am so lucky that in my job I am sent, daily, photos and videos from around England and Wales showing me all the creative ways that our teams and the people we support are entertaining themselves in these days of isolation.  It is so uplifting.  From the weekly Mill House videos – including an amazing one that explains COVID-19 (see the video here) through to the BBQ and dancing at 287 Dyke Road- the thinking caps have clearly been on.

Dyke Road Social Care Service having a BBQ
287 Dyke Road Easter BBQ and dancing

The weather has been kind to us too, so many services have been gardening and setting up outdoor activities.  I’ve seen pictures of barbeques, mini-golf in the garden, the set-up of a ‘Garden convenience shop’ at Holly Tree Cottage for people we support to run and use and much, much more.

The Holly Tree Store for the people we support during social distancing  achieving at home with mini golf at our Holly Tree social care service
Store and mini-golf at Holly Tree

Gardening during lockdown at The Ridge Social Care Service  Gardening during lockdown at The Rugby Road Care Service
Gardening at The Ridge and Rugby Road

I particularly love the weekly Talent Show, won last week by Mill View.

Mill View win the Arts & Crafts My Home’s Got Talent competition

This week we have a dance competition which is still open for entries, online voting which you can take part in will be sent out on Friday 17th April and I will be looking at all the submissions!

I want to thank you again for your hard work in keeping people we support safe and well, and for your positivity.  Being strong for your teams and the people you support is part of the incredible work you do every day.  However, when it is really tough, you may need support too – and it is OK to talk about this.

My ‘ring round’ to many of our homes last weekend was a ray of sunshine as I spoke to so many people who were upbeat and positive, but I recognise this isn’t always the full picture.  A few of our service managers have shared their experiences about how they are doing – a common theme seems to be that in adversity people are pulling together.

• Leigh Roderick, who manages Douglas House said “It’s not been an easy last few weeks, but staff have been amazing. They’ve picked up any extra stress and kept calm, and done their very best to stay positive. It’s good for everyone to keep talking, supporting each other emotionally, and share how they feel. I have daily video calls with my Regional Manager and other Managers – it’s lovely to see each other, say hello, and to share tips.”

• Keith Owen who manages Cwm Hyfryd and Heathdene, said “Staff deserve every praise in the world – they are all absolutely amazing, wonderful, caring dedicated people.  The people we support are being amazing too, even though their routines have changed due to lockdown and government guidance, but they’ve adapted brilliantly. Everyone is pulling together – it’s wonderful to see.”

Remember to check in with your team when you can, just asking ‘are you OK?’ can go a long way.  And for yourself, how are you feeling, how are you coping?  If you need an extra shoulder to lean on, help is available both inside and outside our organisation and it is really true that a problem shared, is a problem halved.

Employee Assistance Programme

If you need someone to talk to, our Employee Assistance Programme is available.   Through this service you can talk to a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy accredited counsellor at any time, who is available to listen and support with anything troubling you emotionally, or affecting your mental wellbeing.  There is also a website, with all sorts of online resources, from practical advice to emotional wellbeing, which you can access from your PC or mobile phone.  We have set this up to give another outlet, another means of support – it is completely confidential – so do make use of it if it might be helpful…. what have you got to lose?

Free and confidential counselling service and helpline:  0808 168 2143

Website: www.carefirst-lifestyle.co.uk
username: achieve   |   password: together

We have also put some additional support documents on the website, which you can find here, that are a good read, produced by the NHS that include:

• Mental wellbeing while staying at home
• 10 tips to help if you are worried about COVID-19

Please keep sharing the amazing creative activities that you and the people you support are getting on with, it’s really inspiring and we will share as much of this as possible on the Instagram account, Twitter and Facebook (follow if you don’t already for a daily ‘pick me up’) and via the website.

Thank you again for your incredible care and dedication – you are SUPER STARS.

Best wishes to you all and stay well,