How our teams and services are adapting

Thanks to all our fantastic staff…

Looking for the silver linings at this time of great change and uncertainty, if there’s one thing this situation has shown the rest of the world, it’s how important our sector, and the work we do is. We’re in the spotlight, and we’re really showing our worth. Here’s some of the ways that our services have taken COVID-19 in their stride and adjusted service provision for the people we support so far…

Supported Living

Our Supported Living service deserve the first mention since they’ve still been out there on the frontline doing an awesome job for the people they support. Alongside our amazing NHS staff, supermarket teams and the rest of our inspiring key workers, they really are the superheroes of our time; pulling their socks up, maintaining the highest standards of support and twisting and turning to suit the changing times alongside the diverse needs of the people using our services. These needs are still withstanding and they continue to consider these in everything they do, as ever offering truly person-shaped support.

We’re pleased to say that we’re continuing to support people as usual in our Supported Living service in Liverpool, following all the guidance laid out by the government.

Staff have been incredible at juggling their day-to-day work with lots of new considerations, taken extra precautions with cleaning and safety around the homes and changing shift patterns to suit people we support; including reintroducing sleep-in shifts. They’ve been picking up stocks and supplies for the people we support and people who live at Newby House (our mental health reablement service) in Halewood have also been supporting each-other by collecting prescriptions on behalf of more vulnerable tenants. They’ve also decorated the building with rainbow designs to give hope to passers-by and show their support to the staff working so hard to continue supporting them.

People have been planting stuff up, making Easter cards and dusting off karaoke machines to keep busy and have fun at home. Some of the less techy tenants have also been getting lessons in video calling so that they can keep in touch with family members and special deliveries of protective equipment are happening with the support of PSS people from across the organisation. Teams are ensuring that rotas continue to be built around the needs of the people supported, maintaining some structure and normality. Thanks to everyone for doing such an incredible job.

Making Days and Community Support

Our Making Days and Community Support services for adults with learning disabilities in Liverpool have been forced to temporarily shut because of Government measures and the risks of spreading infection in social gatherings and environments.

Prior to closure our teams worked exceptionally hard to ensure amazing hygiene standards at the centres and see that there was less risk of cross-contamination by ensuring thorough food preparation safety processes. They were absolute dynamos and we can’t thank them enough.

Since the temporary closure, staff have been phoning those supported and their families, looking for alternative remote options to support the most vulnerable wherever possible.

David (shown above) was delighted to be able to get out in the garden, supported by Making Days North worker, Louis. Over the phone support has also been provided by some of the people who used to get community or day centre support with lots of incredible feedback from families, carers and those being supported. Julie Humphreys, who manages Making Days South in Garston, has had her day made by some of the lovely comments. Lots of people have been asking if they can have a big reunion party when the centre reopens, people have been saying how much they miss the staff and asking if they miss them too and people supported and their families have been letting the guys know what fun they’ve been having at home. Lots of them have been carrying on learning some of the skills they were mastering at the centres; stuff like reading and writing, learning to speak Italian and, of course, plenty of singing, dancing and acting. We can’t wait to see you all back together and want to say a massive thanks to our teams for being so responsive!

Shared Lives, Short Breaks and TRIO

We’ve written to all of our Shared Lives carers, Short Breaks carers and TRIO companions with guidance about what to do if they, their families or the person they support shows symptoms of COVID-19. Development workers have been contacting all carers to check on their situation, to check that they have what they need and to remind them that over the phone support is still available in the absence of home visits. Virtual carer panels have also been successfully happening using Zoom (a video meeting tool).

Our Shared Lives carers are highly-skilled, wonderful people who we trust to do the right thing and make careful decisions with the people they support at heart – but we’re also going to be supporting them to make those choices. We’re ready with a listening ear and our carers can call us at any time to run things by us if they’re unsure, or if they want to problem-solve together.

We’re going to continue to support people who use TRIO, Shared Lives and Short Breaks as best we can. And we’ve loved seeing all the amazing stories and pictures come flooding in of people keeping up a routine at home. Online community groups are being formed for carers where they can share these stories. In our arrangements across the country in Merseyside, the Midlands, North Wales, Manchester, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and the Wirral we’ve seen lots of snaps being sent in. There’s been people cooking up a storm in the kitchen, garden safari parks being built, lots of painting, tons of creative stitching and constructions, groovy dance routines, indoor work-outs, fun with pets and so much more. It’s been great to see people carrying on with their college work from home and keeping on building their confidence and independence in areas that they’d really been growing in. Keep on sharing what you’re up to guys!

Women’s Turnaround, Ruby @ Turnaround and New Leaf

All of these services are now operating from home– groups, counselling and assessments are being done over the phone. Group sessions for female offenders using Women’s Turnaround may now be done on a one-to-one basis for this reason. On Thursday 26th March (after just a week of going remote), 35 one- to-one sessions had taken place, 25 counselling sessions had been delivered, 100s of phone calls had been made and two virtual MARAC meetings had been attended by the teams. This is a multi-agency risk assessment conference that happens in the highest risk domestic abuse cases. Representatives from the local police, probation, health, housing and social care come together to make a decision on what the most safe solution would be for the person at risk and their family. They’ve all been doing this remotely with the input of our expert teams.

Women’s Turnaround session content is being adapted so it meets the needs of the individual and teams are communicating regularly via online team meetings. Our partners at Merseyside CRC have given positive feedback by women receiving counselling by phone, who have said how well it is working for them.

Our Ruby@Turnaround service particularly has been incredibly busy as unfortunately during this time where everyone is asked to stay at home, it’s likely that there will be a rise in domestic abuse incidents. The team are working hard to offer guidance to women and adapt their service based on this increase, listening to partner agencies in doing so. A staff member recently received a call from a woman who was being assaulted in her flat and after a team effort of practical and emotional support over the phone the woman was brought to safety.

The New Leaf service has similarly moved to over the phone support for women in the Cheshire area who have support needs and are looking for employment options. The teams are working really hard to respond to the new demands and offer person-shaped support with great outcomes so far.

Family Impact: Prisoners’ Families/Drugs and Alcohol and Altcourse Visitors centre

We can’t offer our usual Family Impact groups and support sessions face-to-face, but our teams are still working hard in supporting people over the phone.

Counselling is being provided for children, grandparents and parents remotely until the physical service can reopen. Everyone has been so thankful about getting a phone call to see how they were getting on and being told that the teams would continue to be available to support where possible at this difficult time. Even if this was just a chat about loo rolls or rice, according to manager, Rachel McCluskey!

HMP Altcourse have gone into lockdown command mode and visitors are no longer able to visit a loved one in prison. Support for families at the prison had also stopped on this basis.PSS staff could no longer work in HMP Altcourse Visitors Centre because of this and Rita Chambers and the team worked with G4S to devise a suitable plan of action.

Two staff will now be based in the Altcourse Visitors’ Centre to answer phone calls (they won’t be at risk as the centre is closed to the public).

The COVID-19 Family Support Line for people with a member of their family in prison at HMP Altcourse is now open from 10:00 am to 3:00pm, seven days a week. Debbie and Jane can offer support and advice to families with a loved one in prison. Contact : 0151 521 6213 or 07595 863154. 

Family workers are working with G4S to map out what the support options could look like in the future for families with a loved one in prison and we are proactively looking at the best approaches together.


Wellbeing Centres

Due to social distancing guidance our Wellbeing Centres can’t now provide face-to-face support in any of their locations across Merseyside. All group activities and sessions have been postponed as per the guidelines and to ensure people are as safe as possible.

Staff individually got in touch with all the people who they support in the first week to find out the best ways to support them. Phone calls, emails and texts were proposed as options for everyone and they selected what worked best for them. Peer supporters, people who use our service but who now also help to support others, have also been helping to get in touch with all those who use the service.

The Wellbeing Centres team is using the online blog to continue a timetable of daily, remote activities. This includes things like relaxation sessions, anxiety management, creative arts, poetry and singing.

The blog was established to keep a community feeling and build relationships between the people being supported. During this time of uncertainty, it’ll help people to feel connected, occupied and inspired.

Our Wellbeing Centres will also offer guidance to support our staff and other teams once new systems and processes have bedded in, just like the top tips for positive wellbeing when you’re self-isolating blog and the singing lesson above, shared by Mersey who usually provides singing lessons in-house.

Everyone at PSS is pulling together, determined to make this difficult situation work as best we can. You’ve all been nothing but flexible, responsive and positive during this time of uncertainty – and you’re all making such a difference. Thank you so much to our staff, carers and the people we support.