Carr Gomm share the creative ways they have supported staff and people in the community through COVID-19.

Carr Gomm supports about 2,000 people across Scotland. We offer social care and community development services and focus on a person-centred approach. We support individuals within any area of their life by understanding each person, their personalities, preferences, and any concerns that negatively affect their health and wellbeing. We aim to combat social isolation and loneliness.

COVID-19 has affected everyone differently, so it’s been important that our approach to any lockdown adjustments continues to reflect the individual’s needs. As a result, our services across Scotland developed a unique way of implementing changes as well as ensuring the right information and health and wellbeing support was easily accessible.

A major highlight has been making digital technology accessible as a communication tool and ensuring that people felt more secure and connected. Despite the anxiety and uncertainty of the last couple of months, we have been continually overwhelmed by the resilience and positive response from the staff members, particularly at how they have come together for the people supported.

During lockdown our priority has been the wellbeing of our staff and the people we support. We established an Individual Resilience Group to keep everyone updated – giving staff the means to share ideas and to take on positive messages about wellbeing, for themselves and people supported.

Through a little creativity and a lot of determination, many of our other groups have managed to stay connected through different forms of technology such as video and phone calls. It has been amazing to see how well we have coped as an organisation to carry on reducing people’s feelings of loneliness.

We support some extremely vulnerable people so our approach has been to create a positive environment where people supported felt safe, kept busy, and continued to make the most of their daily life.

For instance, Lisa, who hadn’t seen her friends in months, took part in a virtual ‘Go Deep’ game. This is a programme designed to bring people together to explore a combination of different topics by using a range of creative and fun tools to discuss in groups or individually. This virtual interaction allowed Lisa to communicate with people internationally. Lisa, who usually found socialising challenging, has taken the opportunity to make friends in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. She enjoyed debating about the experiences of COVID-19 and has come out of this period with enhanced social skills.

We also spread kindness across the organisation by providing bespoke packages to help maintain the health and wellbeing of the people we support during lockdown. We purchased 382 #spreadkindness packages for people we support across Scotland. These packages were selected by people supported and included puzzles, colouring books, sensory items, games, books, clothes, and art and craft materials. People’s responses when they have received their parcels in the post were priceless – with tears of joy, laughter and excitement all round.

We also provided funding for many of our services to purchase food for people who were not able to do so and to support key food banks in each of the localities.

The last few months have been challenging for many individuals, but by playing to our strengths, and focusing on the individual’s needs, it has brought us closer together and much stronger, despite the social distancing.

A particular story that highlights this is that of Craig and Ben. They were best friends and housemates for many years. Sadly, Craig passed away and Ben could not attend his funeral because of distancing measures. However, our compassionate visiting service team arranged a virtual funeral so Ben could wish his friend goodbye. The team went above and beyond to create a special video for Ben, featuring photos to the soundtrack of Craig’s hero, Elvis Presley. Members of the team supporting Ben then joined him in his home to play the video and hold a private memorial service to allow Ben to light a candle for his dear friend.

Many of us have become accustomed to facemasks as part of the ‘new normal.’ However, seeing people’s faces covered has caused anxiety for some of the people we support, so our services implemented innovative solutions to make them feel at ease. Morag’s creative team designed mini masks for her dolls. By seeing her dolls with the masks first, Morag was comfortable with seeing them worn by her support team.

These stories are only snippets of the perseverance, creativity, and resilience shown by the Carr Gomm family. We have witnessed acts of kindness and selflessness, and people going above and beyond to ensure they do the best job possible for their colleagues and those they support.

The names included in this case study have been changed

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