COVID-19 – Doing Things Differently – Health and Wellbeing Collaboratives PT 2

Collaboratives successfully adopt new ways of working to continue to offer support during COVID-19 restrictions

Under tricky circumstances the Health and Wellbeing Collaboratives have managed to continue to support their members and develop new ways of working with glowing results over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Whilst the majority of the country’s businesses were told to temporarily close to help combat the spread of the virus, health and social care services still had vulnerable people who were counting on urgent or ongoing support.

The Health and Wellbeing Collaboratives, based at Centre4 Grimsby, work with 475 community members, supporting them to improve their health, wellbeing and overall lifestyle through a variety of programmes. These included social groups and community based activities, although, since March the team have worked wonders to create a new virtual programme to support their members and volunteers over the course of the last four months.

Rachel Buckley, Health & Wellbeing Programme Manager for the Collaboratives, said: “At the start of the national lockdown the team quickly became aware just how important it is for older people to continue being active.

“All of a sudden everyone was asked to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus and we knew our members’ activity levels would be greatly reduced. Therefore, as we have such good relationships with our members we took to the phones to check in with every single member.

“To help combat their inactivity, Brian Page, one of our Tai Chi instructors, kindly agreed to pilot a Facebook Live Tai Chi class, which has been a great success. Members of the team helped those who wanted to access the class and it has gone from strength to strength. Every Thursday Brian’s morning class is watched by so many people, and due to its popularity he now runs a Chair Based Exercise class via Facebook on the same afternoon.

“Our members can watch the classes at their leisure, either live or at a time that suits, and benefit greatly from either gentle moves or being a little more energetic!”

Alongside the vast majority of the country, the team and their members had to quickly familiarise themselves with technology they hadn’t previously heard about pre-COVID, in order to get with the ‘new normal’.

Kerry Vause, Collaboratives Project Worker, said: “As a team we decided that whilst we were all working from home we’d move our daily team meetings on to Zoom, and these have worked really well. As we’ve become more familiar with the platform we’ve incorporated Zoom Coffee Mornings and Zoom Social Clubs in to our programmes for members to keep in touch with everyone. It’s important that we’re there for our members to offer support and someone to talk to during what undoubtedly has been a strange and difficult period.”

Alongside checking in with members over Zoom, the team have been making weekly welfare calls to over 40 vulnerable people who need additional support on an individual basis, or just don’t have the technology available to use Zoom.

The feedback from the weekly welfare calls adopted in to the Collaboratives new ways of working has been very positive and include the following testimonies from members:

  • “Not seeing family and friends often leaves me feeling isolated so I really do appreciate the weekly phone calls. I have no computer or internet therefore I can’t take part in the weekly Tai-Chi sessions which I miss. I do feel however, the monthly newsletters keep me in touch with what’s happening, I enjoy the puzzles page. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!”
  • “Feel your service has offered me great support throughout this lockdown. The friendly voices on the other end of the phone have really helped. I can’t always tell members of the family how I really feel so it has been good to be able to talk to the team.”
  • “Very grateful for the regular phone calls, good to know that there is always someone to talk to at the other end of the phone at this difficult time.”
  • “What a great reassurance to have the Health and Wellbeing team keep in touch on a weekly basis. I needed help and wasn’t sure if they would be able to assist but they sorted my issue out for me the very next day. Truly grateful, my husband and I shall not forget the kindness they have all shown at this time.”

 

Elsewhere, the Collaboratives have been visiting some of their members, within the Governments guidelines, each week. These three individuals need the physical face to face contact due to all of them having additional health and wellbeing issues, and various levels of depression and anxiety. The visits enable the team to discover other underlying issues that cannot be picked up by a phone call.

One of the individuals who the Collaboratives have been checking in with said: “My family all live away and with friends currently on lockdown and shielding I only speak to people on the phone. However, the day of my welfare visit is the highlight of my week as I look forward to having that face to face contact.”

The new additions to the Collaboratives programme have been a huge success since lockdown – having received plenty of praise from members and the team see no reason to stop certain activities once things get back to normal.

Martin Wakefield, Health & Wellbeing Programme Manager for Collaboratives, said: “As an integral service for members of the local community, we’re delighted with how our new ways of working and activity programmes have been received over the last few months.

“The Facebook live sessions for Tai Chi and Chair Based Exercise have been very successful. They’ve been viewed hundreds of times each week and we’re pleased to be continuing with these for the foreseeable thanks to the help of Brian.

“Our Zoom Coffee Mornings and Social Clubs are still in their early stages, so we may continue with these depending on the needs of our members and volunteers. If we do continue with these once things get back to normal, we’re certain that they won’t replace our traditional face to face social clubs.”

Martin added: “We’ve also started putting together a monthly newsletter over the lockdown period. It’s become very popular with over 300 postal copies and 167 digital copies sent out each month, as well as lots of engagement after being uploaded to Facebook.

“The newsletter contains information, recipes, quizzes and stories, and we ask our members to contribute as much as possible, as it is their newsletter after all. When things return to normal we will need to discover if there is still a need to continue with the newsletter, and if so what the most effective way to deliver this is.”

The Club Chair reports very positive feedback from members regarding the newsletters, including the following testimonies:

  • “I really look forward to receiving the newsletter each month. I particularly enjoy completing the word search and find all the stories and recipes fascinating. I would like to say a huge thank you to the team and I really appreciate all the hard work and effort that has gone into creating the newsletter.”
  • “Really look forward to receiving the monthly newsletter as I enjoy the puzzles and recipes. There’s some really useful information included as well, for instance the Age UK menu.”

 

Members of staff from the health side of the Collaboratives have also been pushing out important health messages via their Facebook page. Messages around promoting and encouraging people not to ignore potential signs and symptoms of cancer and urging people to continue to access GP Services have been imperative to ensure people continue to receive the care they require during this turbulent period.

Martin concluded: “Whilst it’s obviously unfortunate we haven’t been able to offer our normal programme, due to obvious reasons, it’s been fantastic for everyone with the team and our members to stay connected and embrace these new ways of working so that we can continue to support those that need it most.”

For more information about the Collaboratives or to contact the team please visit the website www.careplusgroup.org/services/about-the-collaboratives

Alternatively, you can find the Collaboratives Facebook page, where the Tai Chi and Chair Based Exercise classes are held, here www.facebook.com/healthandwellbeingcollaboratives

 

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