Mobilising our response

April 20, 2020 CEO blog Theresa Shearer - Group CEO

In an era of social distancing, I do not think I have ever felt more socially connected to our frontline workforce.   Zoom calls with our Personal Assistants (PAs) on the frontline have become a regular fixture in my diary since the lockdown period of the Covid-19 pandemic began, and I have to say, I think it now always will be.

It has been such a useful and valuable way for me to spend time – to hear directly from our keyworkers, to answer any questions they have, and to take on board issues raised to inform and change what needs to be done.  That is the servant leadership culture that we embrace at ENABLE Scotland in practice.

But it has also been heartening to see the other values we hold dear at ENABLE Scotland coming through loud and clear from the frontline.  Last week on a call with PAs working in our services in the West of Scotland, one of my frontline colleagues asked a question which I admit caught me a bit off guard; she asked “And how are you?”

Those four words really highlighted the kindness in our culture which underpins the incredible work our PAs do to support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

It was also a useful reminder that colleagues recognise that the pandemic has affected everyone who works for ENABLE Scotland, and we have had to implement a lot of unexpected changes in a very short period to ensure we can respond appropriately.

In this together

Everyone working right across ENABLE Scotland, without exception, understands that we have a key role to play in mobilising a response to Covid-19 that 1) enables the delivery of services which secure the safety of the people we support at this complex and challenging time, and 2) looks after the longer term sustainability of the charity so that we can remain strong once we come out of the current global health crisis.

This means staff in office-based roles making use of innovative technological solutions to continue their work from home.  Social isolation is one of the biggest enemies of health and wellbeing, and we are doing everything we can to combat this by keeping in touch with all of our members and the people we support through tools like Zoom, Whatsapp and Facebook groups – as well as good old fashioned telephone calls for people who prefer to communicate in this way.

Our PAs are critical to the delivery of the national strategy to manage the Covid-19 pandemic – not only through keeping vulnerable people safe at this challenging time, but also recognising the vital role of excellent social care in supporting people to live at home and reduce demand on acute NHS services.

At this current moment in time, this is the single most important thing we can do. That is a bit different to our usual operating model of supporting people to live the life they choose – but it is the right thing to do, right now.

Our mobilisation plan is therefore focused on channelling the charity’s resources towards supporting our PAs to keep themselves safe and healthy, and to maintain the highest possible level of care and support to keep vulnerable people safe, well and – crucially – out of hospital, wherever we can, throughout this period.  Every person across the charity is right behind our frontline; we are in this together.

Meeting the challenge

The pandemic presents two clear challenges to our service delivery; vital efforts to protect the vulnerable people we support from infection with Covid-19; and the risk of significant depletion of the numbers of PAs who are available to work as a result of infection or precautionary self-isolation due to symptoms or suspected exposure to Covid-19.

It is critical that this risk is minimised by the practice of the very highest standards of hygiene and infection control by our PAs, based on the latest public health guidance, and the provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

We are following the individual plans for each person we support to ensure all actions are based on decisions they have made, where appropriate in collaboration with the local Health and Social Care Partnership.

It is without doubt testament to the professionalism of our brilliant PAs that we have not yet seen a Covid-19 case among the people we support, and staff absence levels due to self-isolation have been managed well.

Planning our response

When it became apparent just how significant Covid-19 was going to be, we undertook detailed modelling to understand the impact of various levels of PA absence and the associated impact this would have on service delivery.

To ensure we maintain the highest level of service possible throughout this challenging period, we have planned and implemented a number of strategic interventions to maximise our pool of frontline PAs available to support vulnerable people across Scotland.

This includes deploying existing sessional staff to frontline roles, offering additional hours to PAs within particular teams, moving PAs from other teams where required, redeploying staff from other roles across the ENABLE Scotland charity to support frontline social care delivery, and continuing to recruit new talent into flexible roles within our PA teams.

We have launched a digital recruitment campaign across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which has resulted in 21 new starts over the last week, with a further 10 individuals due to join us this week.

We have also had to design and implement a new supply chain and national stock control process around PPE to make sure that we manage this precious resource to ensure that all staff have access to what they need.

One thing we couldn’t have planned for was just how strongly the values and compassion of ENABLE Scotland staff, members and the people we support would come together and boost morale.

We now have PAs taking the time out of their days to pass on messages of support for our leadership team, like this comment I received this week:

 

…just wanted to say how excellent I find the updates we get – it is encouraging to know there is such a good group of people in charge who can communicate with clarity and empathy at this difficult time. Thank you everyone.

 

If you – or someone you know – would like to play your part in supporting some of our country’s most vulnerable people through this historic public health challenge, please apply to work with ENABLE Scotland today.

You can be sure you will be joining a team where everyone – in all roles across the charity – will be giving you their full support as we meet this challenge together, and start planning together for the next phase in our response to COVID19.

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