Today is the fifth Starts at Home Day, a day to celebrate supported housing and show how important this service is to those who need extra support.
We are responsible for a portfolio of registered care homes and supported living schemes for adults with learning disabilities. With this in mind, we spoke to our supported housing team to hear their experience of supporting people through the pandemic and how these services were affected during this period.
How did supported housing services change?
As with many services, our supported housing had to quickly change in response to coronavirus. All communal lounges in our sheltered schemes were closed and teams switched to making regular welfare calls to all supported housing customers.
Our customers really appreciated the regular contact, and our supported housing staff welcomed the ability to make contact with customers and get to know them better. It was not easy; we are a team that likes being out and about and we missed our interaction with customers.
We made contact with customers that we would never have normally had any dealings with if they didn’t come to our drop-ins. It has been a hard time, but we have all managed to get through it together, it has brought us closer as a team and closer to our customers and without Covid it may never have happened.
Customers were written to regularly to keep them updated and worked with them to plan how our services would change when the government published their road map.
For me working in supported housing over the last year has been not without challenge – almost to the point of a roller-coaster. In the beginning, we were working from home with limited visits to any of our care homes, supported living schemes, sheltered schemes and floating support customers – Communal spaces picked up fly-tipping and lots of weeds. I was left feeling I had taken my eye off the ball at times. Our care providers and their teams have done a magnificent job working in full PPE and at times short-staffed. I do feel that it may take time for people's mental health to heal.
Are these services back to normal?
Our services are back to normal, but we know that some of our customers are still anxious about mixing in communal areas. Our teams are busy as customers take the opportunity to raise issues with us now we are out and about again.
Wow, what a year it has been. As a sheltered housing coordinator, we were quite limited to what we could do for our customers as our normal job function would be out and about as much as possible visiting customers and holding drop-ins weekly. Working from home it was decided that if we could not see our customers face to face then we would make contact with them via telephone, carrying out welfare calls. This was done by all of our team members and the calls proved to be very invaluable. I think by doing this it brought us closer to our customers, gave us a clearer picture of how they were coping, if they had any family members to help them or if they didn’t, we could arrange for shopping/medication etc to be carried out by the local volunteers!