A week in the life of our befriending and outreach team
When social distancing measures were enforced in the UK, our befriending and outreach team had a creative solution to the suspension of their face-to-face services: a telephone support offer. Since moving to remote assistance, the service has been a beacon of hope for over 150 people, providing them with the support needed to live well in their homes.
To mark National Older Persons' Day on Sunday 4 October, five members of the team have come together to describe one day of their week working as an Octavia support worker. From welfare checks and social calls, to virtual activities and signpost support, their work is fostering community and connections at a time when they are needed most.
"Virtual activities give older people stuck at home a chance to discover new interests and re-connect with old ones."
A support worker for older people living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Andy is a font of knowledge for local support services.
“Keeping on top of our COVID-19 services database means that I know which ones are currently open and what they offer. Most people I speak to are looking for regular contact and a listening ear. I find that taking an empathetic approach is the way forward and try to recommend talking services to reduce their isolation.”
Many older people are finding solace in the stability of a routine – an act that Andy actively encourages them to adopt.
“I help the people I support to plan a routine using the remote resources available to them. Having a fixed schedule helps them break up the week and pass the time productively. A typical week could include a call from myself on Monday, Open Age activities on Tuesday, St Vincent De Paul activities on Wednesday and a befriending call on Thursday or Friday. Virtual activities give older people stuck at home a chance to discover new interests and re-connect with old ones. They also replicate the joy and stimulation of meeting and speaking to others in person. We will be launching a virtual group soon, in replacement of our group befriending activities, on a platform that is as accessible to as many people as possible.”
Since March, Andy has noticed an increase in joined-up working - both inside and outside of Octavia.
“I’ve been working with my colleagues to obtain foodbank vouchers and donated household items for my clients. One gentleman I support is visually impaired and requires support with reading his mail. Over the pandemic, we arranged for his letters to be sent to our community hub, The Reed centre, where my colleagues scan the documents to me so I can read them out over the phone. Coming to a creative solution together has meant that I am able to notify the gentleman of any upcoming hospital appointments. Collaborative working alongside external services including My Care, My Way and the Care Navigators has also been a real support. Working together, we are able to produce the best outcomes for the people we support.”