Creativity rules in lockdown

10th July 2020

Coronavirus lockdown has been a difficult time for everyone. Unable to see loved ones and friends, restricted activities and of course the worry and anxiety of becoming ill.

At FitzRoy our ability to support people with learning disabilities and autism so they can make the day to day choices that many of us take for granted has been severely challenged during lockdown. Much loved routines and activities have been disrupted, but our incredible support staff have been working hard to try and keep things as normal as possible.

Senior support worker Kirsty has supported Louise at our Vernon Close service in East Sussex for the past four years. She said: “At the beginning of lockdown Louise was very nervous and anxious. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t go out and see her friends. Louise loves doing all kinds of activities so it was quite traumatic for her.

“I tried to think of ways for Louise to still have choice and control in her day to day life. It is really important for her to feel like she has control over her routine, so I created a board for Louise to show her which support worker would be spending time with her on each day, and what activity she would be doing. I went out and took pictures of all her favourite locations to visit and printed those off for her board, so she could choose what she wants to do that day.

“She was quite lost at the beginning of lockdown, but now Louise seems a lot happier and understands what is happening a lot more. Because Louise is quite a visual person, we will carry on with the board even after lockdown, it has really been helping. Now lockdown is easing and more is opening up, I’m going to go out and take pictures of more things she can do to add to her board.

“Every support worker at Vernon Close has been using this creative mindset to help each and every person we support through lockdown. No one solution fits everyone, so we have also had pyjama days, BBQs, or just taking people out for drives. Our whole team is so supportive of one another, we have worked hard together to do the best we can.”

Deputy manager Aidan stepped into his role only four weeks ago, but already he feels at home with his team. He said: “I feel so lucky to have stepped into my role as deputy manager and to have a team as creative and brilliant as this. For instance, one resident, Niels, loves going for a drive and getting a meal deal from Tesco. Because in lockdown the queues for Tesco have been so long, staff have been picking up a meal deal on their way to work, then taking Niels out for a drive at lunch and bringing the meal deal back to the car to make sure his routine stays consistent. To have a team that does things like that and clearly cares for the people we support is just incredible.

“The people we support have also been amazing. Their routines have completely been turned upside down, but they have adapted brilliantly. I feel really lucky to be in a service like Vernon Close, they have made me feel so welcome and supported in my new role, even in the middle of a pandemic.”

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