Prime minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown at 8.30pm on 23rd March. It is now 24th April, and for some lockdown is starting to feel like the new normal. For others however, it continues to pose significant challenges – having enough to eat, accessing health care, staying in touch with friends and family, staying mentally and emotionally well, and coming to terms with serious economic uncertainty.
We can be confident in anticipating that COVID-19 will have a disproportionately greater impact on the wellbeing of the Fulfilling Lives client group – people with multiple and complex needs. Since the gravity of COVID-19 became apparent, FLSE has worked with determination to ensure that our clients continue to receive that best support possible. We have also been working hard so that our work to bring about lasting positive change in the systems and services that people with MCN rely on can progress despite the challenging circumstances, and that this work continues to be co-produced with our Service User Involvement team.
Our Response So Far
Client-facing work has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 response measures. Face to face work with clients has been reduced and is now on an ‘as necessary’ basis, ensuring that social distancing is observed. Where possible work is being conducted remotely and both workers and clients have had to utilise technology to stay in
contact. Clients have been supported to use phones and internet to stay connected with their workers and wider support networks.
Client-facing workers have reported that most of their time has been taken up with finding ways to meet their clients basic physical needs, however they have still found creative ways to connect with support the emotional and mental wellbeing of their clients.
All our non-client facing teams (Service User Involvement, Systems Change, and Learning and Impact) have made the transition to remote working and are finding creative ways to maintain communication, support for one another, and keep vital project work moving forwards.
Research and Learning
As a research and learning project we want to understand the impact of COVID-19 on people with multiple and complex needs, as well as on those working directly to support them. A survey was conducted with all specialist workers and area leads in FLSE and the findings from this survey were summarised in an initial impact report that was published on 15th April.
The impact report has been shared internally, and is being used to inform practice within the client facing delivery teams. It is also being used to inform the direction of our Systems Change projects in the coming weeks and months. The report has also been shared with our extensive network of stakeholders, including Fulfilling Lives National Evaluation, National Lottery, MEAM, and the Frontline Network.
So far we have received very positive feedback from our stakeholders. Some have used the survey as a model for conducting their own research, and many have expressed interest in the findings of the report.
A partner at Homeless Link said ‘Really great work and absolutely essential to capture the impact of what is going on right from the start. We are currently collating information and intel on how landscapes are changing and the impact of Covid-19. We definitely would like to include your findings in the report’
We will continue to research the impact of COVID-19 on people with multiple and complex needs and on the systems and services, which they often depend on. We will continue to gather feedback from our teams; share learning with (and learn from) our network of stakeholders; and review and adapt our Systems Change work to the ever-changing situation. Our key next steps are the following:
– Survey the impact of COVID-19 on our Service User Involvement teams’ ability to continue co-production work with the wider project.
– We will collate and share examples of best practice from across the wider network, in particular form our key partner organisations.
– Share key learning and reflection on this blog and webcasts with contributions from staff and volunteers.
– We will conduct client interviews remotely with the support of the Service User Involvement Team.