Phone Calls, Parcels and Post

11 August 2020

Jane usually works face to face with Guideposts service users in the local community, but when Covid struck she had to figure out how to support and care for her clients from home.

Jane is one of Guideposts’ longest serving staff members. She has worked as part of the team in Ware, Hertfordshire for 17 years! Normally Jane would be out supporting her clients one on one or in twos and threes in the week. Then on a Friday evening she helps run Fun Fab Friday – a weekly opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to come together for food, films, games and outings. When in person services had to be stopped Jane began working from home and supporting people from a far.

“During Covid obviously it’s been very different for everybody,” Jane said. “I am a support worker I have been with Guideposts for about 17 years. I’ve been in the field for 28 years. I’ve done a wide range of things, such as working with the NHS day service, supporting people in their homes and a wide variety of mental health work. With Covid it has been difficult for me, working from home. And it has been very difficult for everybody.”

Support over the Phone

Currently Jane has 14 clients that she supports each week with calls, text and post. “I normally call people twice a week, text and liaise with their family when they need me,” Jane said. “I keep in close contact with the families to make sure they’re okay and if they need any support themselves – just in case they need us for a little chat.

“If a person likes something I look at it so I can talk about it. I know about Watford City Football ground, Dance Moms, different types of biscuits and a wide range of things I can put on my CV!”

After lockdown began Jane changed her working pattern so that she could better support people, “I do weekends too,” she said. “I thought because the clients weren’t getting out as normal that was when they needed support and a chat.”

As restrictions were relaxed some clients started getting back to their normal activities or worked during the week. So Jane has called them less regularly but always texts them to let them know that if they ever need her she is on the other end of the phone.

Letters and Post

On top of the phone calls Jane has sent weekly activity packages out. She usually puts them together on a Tuesday so that they arrive in time for the weekend. Then when she next calls they can talk about what was in the packages like the answers to a quiz.

“It’s just about helping people and encouraging people to lead an independent life.”

“Each package is different, catering to the person who received them because obviously I know them all well. There’s stickers, quizzes, letters. I also include notelets with positive sayings. Sometimes they promote the guidelines – so they can stick it on the side and see it and think oh did I forget my hand gel? My theme is rainbow.

“The packages have brought happiness and smiles. I’ve had some lovely positive feedback, ‘You make me smile.’ ‘I love receiving your packages, I get very excited.’ ‘I know that you’re always there for me.’ A parent has said that the package is the highlight of her daughter’s week!”

Helping and Encouraging

Although lockdown was tough on Jane and all the people she supports she see the positive side too, “There is a positive side. It’s nice that we have been able to support and enable people. I’ve listened and we’ve got to know each other better.

“I have to say I have been in this field for 28 years I wouldn’t be in this field if I didn’t like it. I’m a people person, I engage with people. I’ve learnt from them and them from me. It’s just about helping people and encouraging people to lead an independent life as much as possible and if I am the person to do that, that’s brilliant.”

If you would like to find out more about learning disability support in Hertfordshire or refer somebody please contact the team at guideposts.ware@guideposts.org.uk.