Lessons from Lockdown

May 29, 2020 CEO blog

In this week’s blog, our CEO Theresa Shearer reflects on lessons we’ve learned over nearly 10 weeks of lockdown – and invites everyone to (responsibly!) enjoy the sunshine this weekend…

Lessons from lockdown

Today, Scotland has officially eased some of its lockdown restrictions and moved into Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map through and out of the Covid-19 crisis. 

This is of course just a slight relaxation of the restrictions we have all been living under for more than nine weeks, and it is essential that everyone sticks to the rules to support the public health effort to suppress the virus and save lives. 

Yet it nevertheless brings hope that we are past the emergency response stage of this pandemic, and – provided everyone across society complies with the public health guidance at each phase – we are on a path out of this crisis and towards a time when everyday life feels a bit more like what we were used to. 

This easing of restrictions coincides with some glorious sunny weather across Scotland this weekend, so please take this opportunity to spend some time outdoors with your loved ones – safely of course, and in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Responding to the crisis

It goes without saying that Covid-19 has presented a challenge unlike anything I have ever experienced as a CEO. Both the nature and scale of the disruption and the adjustments required to respond to it have been at a level few organisations ever have to deal with. 

The Covid-19 crisis is not over – far from it – and thousands of families across Scotland are mourning the loss of loved ones to this awful virus. As millions of us begin to enjoy the gradual return of some of the things we used to take for granted, we must never forget those for whom things will never be the same again. 

Against that backdrop, I have watched 2,200 ENABLE Scotland and Piper Group colleagues swiftly adapt to a radical change to their daily working lives, and diligently and determinedly embrace their duties as frontline keyworkers in the national response – united in a common purpose of keeping vulnerable people safe and well in their own homes, and out of hospital so far as possible. 

I have never been more proud at any time in my career. 

I am especially grateful and proud that our model of supporting people to live in their own homes and in their own communities means the people we support will also have the opportunity to enjoy the relaxations and greater freedoms that come with each stage of the Route Map. 

Our charity has always known the benefits of personalised care and support within local communities, and keeping people out of institutional and hospital settings is a principle that will always be central to our model of care.

Embracing and shaping change

While our goal is rightly to restore the freedoms and activities we enjoy over the course of however many months it takes to travel along the Route Map, there is a broad consensus that the final destination will not be exactly how things were before. 

As we accept the inevitability of change, it is vital that we defend those positive developments that have come out of this experience. 

It seems counter-intuitive, but being isolated from one another has in some ways made us feel more connected thanks to our use of digital technology to check in with one another and have regular catch-ups through video conferencing. 

Platforms like Teams and Zoom are not new, but necessity has broken down resistance to change, and I have enjoyed seeing colleagues who would have described themselves as luddites being converted into confident digital natives! 

I am so grateful to all our staff who have proven themselves to be a digitally enabled and connected workforce ready to respond to the challenges we face now and in the future.

Recognising true value

My regular catch-ups with frontline teams from across the country – as well as with the teams who have been working from their own homes to deliver our employability and charitable projects and to support our frontline – have really highlighted the values and resilience of the people who work for this charity. Their commitment to supporting people who have a learning disability to be safe and well in their own home and to exercise their rights has really shone through, and been truly inspiring. 

As the First Minister acknowledged in her statement yesterday, everybody needs love and to feel connected to the people who matter to them. This is reflected in how we deliver our services, and it is of course true of every one of us as well. 

The last ten weeks have been incredibly challenging, but I am so proud of how everyone in our charity has responded, and – recognising that there will be many challenges still to come as we progress along the Route Map out of the Covid-19 crisis – I want to thank you all and encourage you to enjoy the sunshine and enjoy being with your loved ones this weekend. 

Take care, keep yourselves and your loved ones safe and well, and I look forward to catching up with more of you on our ongoing Zoom calls!

Theresa Shearer, Group CEO
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