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Keeping connected during coronavirus lockdown

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Keeping the connection during coronavirus lockdown

"The highlight for me has been seeing people really going for it and enjoying themselves."

Communicating with families

The lockdown was a very worrying time for families and friends of people we support, and we were mindful of the need to provide up–to-date and accurate information.

“Our first priority was to keep everyone safe, so our priority was communicating with people we support and staff,” explains Head of Marketing and Communications, Kirsty Boden-Stuart. “Once we had our procedures in place we wanted to let concerned family members and carers know that their loved ones were as protected as possible and receiving the same level of personalised support as always.”

Staff are in regular communication with families, and so in the early stages of lockdown, they were able to stay in touch with relatives by phone and email. As our Coronavirus Task Team began to establish clear policies, we communicated the new guidelines with families in a number of different ways.

Using technology to keep connected

Providing activities and keeping structure day to day for people we support was key and when day and activity centres were closed, using technology to connect became the only option. Zoom and Microsoft Teams were relatively new ways of communicating for many of us at the start of lockdown, but they have become essential tools that we are all familiar with.

Derek Whitaker, an activity coordinator at the ARC saw the massive benefit in technology keeping us connected and how it meant we could continue to offer activity sessions to people we support. It wasn’t without its challenges, but Derek says it has been the best way to keep going.

“When we went into lockdown, the ARC was closed and the staff here were redeployed to work in people’s homes. I carried on doing activity sessions such as music, Tacpac, arts and craft, baking, stretching and yoga, and light gardening in the house I worked in.

Soon after, I joined the Connect & Do team and began running music sessions each Friday on Zoom.

I also got involved with making instructional art and craft videos which have been posted on Certitude’s YouTube channel.”

Derek says that using technology the way we have during lockdown has changed things for better and will help activity facilitators like himself to deliver engaging content to people we support in a way we hadn’t done before.

“The highlight for me has been seeing people really going for it and enjoying themselves during Zoom music sessions, I cannot begin to say how amazing the people we support are. I have seen people who, prior to lockdown, did not react in many ways are now ‘coming out of their shells’ – truly amazing!

I will continue to run sessions via Zoom and intend to get the other ARC staff members familiar with how it works, so we can continue to provide a range of diverse sessions from the ARC. I would say that the lockdown has brought our team at the ARC closer together.”

Family support

To help families understand how we were working within the Government guidelines – and to communicate some of the fun activities we got up to during lockdown – we set up a dedicated Family Support page on our website and delivered updated news through our newsletter, The Circular.