In the midst of chaos, comes opportunity
I promised in my last post that I would be writing a series of blogs as I catch-up with various colleagues from around the business. This time I had a chat with support worker, Jamie Dempsey. He works with customers with learning disabilities, empowering them to live a full life and making decisions for themselves.
Jamie previously worked for the local authority in Solihull, before moving to Solihull Community Housing as a visiting officer. He joined Bromford in 2018 after hearing good things about our culture, flexibility and expansion.
Jamie has a great story to share, so without further ado, over to him.
“In the midst of chaos, there comes opportunity" - Sun Tzu from The Art of War
All of our lives have changed to some degree over the past four months. In this blog, I’d like to explore how the support team has adjusted to the crisis and changed the way we work, whilst maintaining the expectations set upon us by both our customers, commissioners and ourselves.
The most drastic change that immediately affected our team was going from performing face-to-face key-working sessions to using our initiative and looking at the specific needs of our customers to make communication possible and stress-free. This led to many of us using different platforms of communication to assist our customers. From using Whatsapp to Skype, or simply making a phone call or a text. We are all trying to get the best use out of the technology at our disposal to help simplify and encourage engagement.
Pre-pandemic, our team would capture our work by manually writing our key-working notes and ask our customers to sign the sheet to verify the work had been done, this work would then be added to the customers hard file. Since March, this hasn’t been an option, instead we’re now storing notes digitally, to be printed off at a later date and added to a customers’ file. For me this is a step in the right direction, a step that we may not have made had this crisis not occurred. Keeping notes digitally is not only easier to administrate but it’s also more secure and strengthens data protection. As we’re working from home now, we must always be aware of not accidentally exposing our work to others in our homes as all files are confidential and data protection must always be adhered to.
A lot of us have experienced a change to our workspaces, using our family homes for many different things. Speaking from my experience, since March, my home has been used as a make-shift solicitors office, a classroom/playroom, support hub and finally, a family home. Finding the right work-life balance has been challenging and rewarding in equal measure.
Trying to educate and entertain my six-year-old twin boys, whilst consistently keeping in touch with all my customers has been an adventure, to say the least, but it just goes to show how adaptable we can all be when faced with adversity.
Going forwards we will be met with further challenges. A large number of our customers suffer from learning difficulties and varying mental health issues and it takes time and persistence to build a trusting relationship with them to enable us to enter their homes. After a break of several months they may now find returning to face-to-face key-working anxiety-inducing. Thankfully, we have been continuing to support our customers in a variety of ways and are well prepared when the time comes, so we will hopefully be able to pre-empt and break down these barriers. Without meeting customers in person we lose the ability to observe them. Observation is essential in any support role as we can get a full picture of the customers' lives. Being invited into our customer’s homes allows us to see potential hazards, such hoarding or signs of abuse, which we can then take action on or raise safeguarding concerns. With remote working, we have lost the ability to see behind the curtain. In order to mitigate this we must start to use our coaching skills and use more open questions in order to gauge the reality of our customers lives.
As a team we’ve also made changes to the ways we work together. The vast majority of our team now prefer our weekly meetings being held on Microsoft Teams as it forces us to structure the meetings in such a way that all colleagues have the opportunity to voice any concerns or add to the topic of conversation.
Although this period in our planet's history will go down as overwhelmingly negative due to the lives lost, social distancing and the impact it’s had upon our economy, I feel that many positives can come from this crisis. It has allowed us to think on our feet, innovate and evolve with change. It has allowed us to re-assess the way we work and think of new ways of meeting our expectations.
If you are interested in hearing more about the roles that Jamie and his team do and would like to look for a position for your next career move, take a look at our jobs pages.