#NeverMoreNeeded

#NeverMoreNeeded is all about raising awareness of the importance of the charity sector right now. The genuine, big-hearted, open-minded, determined and professional wonder of our PSS people never fails to amaze us. But right now, amidst the Covid-19 crisis, our #FrontLineHeroes are really stepping up to the plate. Without you, ensuring safety and happiness to the most vulnerable in society wouldn’t be possible so we must say thanks – it’s the least we can do!

Over the coming weeks and months – however long this lasts – we’ll be flooding this page with profiles of some of the people who’ve inspired us most. Our extraordinary key workers, our staff who’ve seen their roles change beyond all recognition and all those social care superstars who are just downright awesome. Here’s to you!

Suzanne, manager of our Front of House Team

 

Suzanne’s the lovely person behind the big smile you see when stepping into our Liverpool head office; some might say the face of PSS. Since our buildings have closed to avoid the spread of infection, Suzanne’s role has had a massive switch-up. She’s now out there supporting the supply of PPE across our services and beyond. 

A self-confessed social justice warrior, Suzanne’s been mobilising the troops, with the support of a team of social care saviours across Merseyside. She’s been helping to source PPE, collecting it and ensuring our teams have all that they need to give the best and safest support to people who use our services.  

Suzanne is also the main carer for her mum and has continued to support her as well as working here. Whilst she’s feeling the pressure, she’s also feeling so inspired by what she’s seen happening. Especially as our friends in the sector club together and share the heavy load of this ‘new normal’. She had this piece of advice to give to anyone feeling the strain: ‘We’re all learning how to live in a different way. If you’re feeling down one day just go with it. It’s ok, you can be kind to yourself. There’s lots about us starting new hobbies and keeping fit but remember we all need downtime too. And remember to keep in touch – I’m keeping up my ukulele and singing practice with my band the D’Ukes of Hazzard and spending time walking my little pooch, Bonnie. That’s my happy space!’ 

Here’s more about Suzanne and her role at PSS…

Tell us a bit about your interests, passions and life outside of work

I’m a bit of an old indie kid really, I love festivals and concerts (especially Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker). I’m in a band too and love a bit of escapism through playing the ukulele and singing. I’ve met lots of lovely people through it and it’s helped me with some hard times. I love my little family too and our gorgeous dog, Bonnie. Travelling is a big thing for me – I recently got stuck on the Isle of Mull during a storm Dennis which was an adventure. I used to live in Australia too. Itching to get back to travelling. 

Tell us a bit about your role and how you support people at PSS  

I manage the team who  usually work behind our reception desk in our head office, we’re the first point of contact for people visiting PSS or calling up. It’s really important to me that whoever walks in, they are treated warmly. 

Why did you choose a career in social care?  

I worked in retail from the age of 17 and then I managed an opticians for 12 years – I enjoyed that because I was helping people – but I got fed up of the corporate world and money focus. I’ve always been passionate about people and I’m quite political. I always think about those people who don’t get looked after by society. I was living in Melbourne and my dad unfortunately got ill so I came home. When he passed away that was a real turning point in my life and I decided I wanted to do something different. I was also caring from a friend for a little bit and when this job came up it sounded perfect. A mixture of my love for people and customer service. 

How have you adapted the support you usually provide during Covid-19?  

At the beginning there was lots and lots of phone calls coming in and we had to try and support people and direct them as to what was happening. We have about twenty services so that was lots of people needing advice. I’m also really proud of my team who helped with sorting client records out in our CMS (client management system) to ensure they could carry on getting support and our teams could contact them in a timely way.  Now my role has changed completely. Rachael Stott, our business development and innovation director has given some of her time to Liverpool council in sourcing PPE across the region. I’ve been helping her with his and thinking outside the box with suitable equipment. Last week I got to go to the Cunard Buliding in Liverpool city centre and meet other people helping to source PPE. I got an unexpected tour of the building and saw and amazing view of the Liver building amongst this. I have been driving around Liverpool to get equipment and deliver it. I’ve met some amazing people as part of this. I met three men delivering meals to vulnerable people in Merseyside and I even met mayor, Joe Anderson. I’ve really been testing my nervous driving these past few weeks, whizzing all over the place. It feels good.

What have been the biggest challenges in this and how have you sought to overcome them?  

I’m quite an anxious person and a worrier. The biggest challenge at the beginning was that the guidelines were unclear. I was unsure of whether could continue supporting my mum. Our local mental health team were really supportive and I can carry on safely doing thisWe’ve got to consider mental health as well as the risks of Covid-19. I take lots of precautions with mum and initially I just needed to manage my anxiety around this. I got a bit of a routine and planned a structure to keep things as normal as possible. Some days I avoid putting the news on to just limit anxiety, do meditations and like going out on my bike. Me and my partner, Scott, also time our coffee breaks and enjoy sitting in the yard when it’s sunny. 

Has anything really stood out to you and made you proud? 

I’m really proud of my team right now. Kathryn who has a learning disability and has been getting more and more confident since working here has taken on even more responsibilities. She’s feeling so proud of what she’s doing. Amy’s also done an amazing job, taking on additional responsibilities by supporting our quality teams. There’s so much work for them right now looking after health and safety and Amy’s excelled herself! I’m lucky to have such a fabulous team. 

Shelley, specialist practitionerRuby@Turnaround domestic abuse service

Our Ruby@Turnaround team support victims of domestic abuse in Merseyside. As we see a worrying spike of domestic abuse incidents during Covid-19, Shelley, a specialist practitioner, has been working so hard to support people remotely. The work done by her and her colleagues was #NeverMoreNeed. 

Some of the people Shelley supports are still living with their abusers, making it difficult for them to get space to talk to her. One woman she is supporting used to attend Ruby@Turnaround for counselling, whilst her partner was of the view that she was at work. Because she has now been furloughed she can’t use this excuse and Shelley had to rely on her calling or contacting over email for her safety. This is working but Shelley still has her concerns for the future so really goes the extra mile to find new ways of supporting women during the crisis, seeking guidance from partner agencies in doing so. 

For domestic abuse support, you can contact the National Domestic abuse helpline on: 0808 2000 247. Or in Merseyside, you can call our Ruby@Turnaround team on: 07714289180. 

You’ll be supported by someone you really understands, just like Shelley. Here’s a bit about her…

 Tell us a bit about yourself  

 My life outside of work is pretty calm which, to be honestis really great considering that working for Ruby@Turnaround  can be very demanding. I absolutely love what I do but you need that good work and home life balance. I really enjoy catching up with family and friends at the weekends, having a girly get together or maybe going for a meal or the pictures. I also have a 15year old daughter so trying to keep up with her social life and the challenges associated with being a teenager certainly keeps me on my toes. I don’t know if anyone else is currently going through the teenager phase but she literally spends her time following me around the house with her phone, taking Snapchats of me. I also never have any money (nobody told me this when you had kids) and I no longer own a makeup palate that hasn’t been broken or suddenly disappeared to surprisingly find hidden in her secret hiding place in her room (the makeup fairy’s must have put this there). But moaning aside, she is hilarious and great company to be around, listening to her reminds me of my 15-year old self but she is definitely more wise than I was back then (phew). I really love going to festivals and concerts and my favourite one has to be Adam Lambert with Queen.  

 Please tell us a bit about your role and how you support people at PSS  

 So, we work with anyone who has experienced domestic abuse, either currently or historic survivors of domestic abuse. Often people think that people can’t access domestic abuse services because they may have left their abuser, but this is not the case, as often people are still affected by the abuse years afterwards. We can work with people to understand and come to terms with the abuse they have experienced. 

 In a nutshell, our role is to assess the risk of harm and develop tailored safety and support plans for the person to suit their own individual needs. We provide practical advice and support to people and offer a range of options such as: support through the criminal justice system, accessing civil orders like a non-molestation order if you don’t want to explore the criminal route, target hardening on property (changing locks/fire assessments/ referrals for telecare). We support people through family law proceedings and safeguarding issues that need to be addressed. We will attend child protection/child in need and EHAT meetings to provide support around the domestic abuse. 

 In addition to this we also attend MARAC meetings which are held in the different boroughs of Merseyside where all the high risk cases are discussed in a multiagency arena. Our role within the meeting its to share information around the risks, but also to enable that the survivor’s voice is heard. 

 We also have access to the groups such as the Freedom Program which looks at the impact of attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusers and the responses of victims and survivors. The aim is to help them to make sense of and understand what has happened to them. It also describes in detail how children are affected by being exposed to domestic abuse and how children’s lives are improved when the abuse is removed. 

 Another added value to our service is that we have a counselling service for the people we support. Kim who is our Ruby counsellor has been counselling for around 12 years and she is also a specialist domestic abuse practitioner. People have reported back to me that she knows exactly what they are thinking and they say that it’s like she can read their mindPeople progress really well with her in counselling and always say that they like her because she is so down to earth with them. I think her having the experience with working in domestic abuse certainly helps the people she supports because they always say that they feel comfortable and understood.  

  Why did you choose a career in social care?  

 I initially trained to do social work because my dad and stepmother kinship fostered my niece for several years. My stepsister had her own troubles throughout her teenage years and adulthood due to her mental health and relationships with partners. 

 I decided at the time that I wanted to work with teenagers within the care system or at risk of being in the care system and chossocial work as the route I would go down to achieve this. I wanted to work with teenagers, probably because of my experiences with my stepsister and wanting to make a positive change in people’s lives. 

 It was only when I was on my third year as a social work student that I was fortunate enough to have a placement within a IDVA service around domestic abuse. That’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t think I would have ever ended up in this role if it wasn’t for doing that placement and I am so glad that I did it. I know that over the years I have helped to change lives for the better and we have had some very successful outcomes for the people we support. 

 How have you adapted the support you usually provide during Covid-19?   

 It’s been challenging. We are usually used to the women attending groups/counselling and having a face to face catch up with them afterwards. Sowe are spending even more time on the phone, completing one-to-ones with them over the phone and ensuring that they are still supported. They are also missing coming in to the centre, which is coming across a lot to me so I generally have a good chat to them about how they are coping with the lockdown and factor this into our one-to-one. 

 One woman called me and told me that she had a hearing for a non-molestation order in court via telephone when the lockdown initially happened. It’s great that the courts are making special arrangements to support people right now. Because everything has moved so fast, we are learning from the people we support directly which allows us to better support others. 

 We have also had to think about how we work with other agenciesI had a woman fleeing domestic abuse and had a property ready for her to sign up too. With some gentle persuasion we were able to get the property signed up to without a character reference under the agreement that she has on the spot tenancy inspections when the lockdown ended. All communications were done via email to sign up for the tenancy and she was able to end the relationship and flee to safety.   

 Some of my women I support are still living with their abusers. These have been the more difficult cases to support especially if their abusers check things like their emails and messages. I have got one woman at the moment who used to attend the centre for counselling, whilst her partner was of the view that she was at work. I can’t contact her now because she has been furloughed and I have to rely on her making contact with me as this is what we have agreed for her own safety. She does contact me to tell me that she is safe and will be back in the centre as soon as this is over with but this is an uneasy time because I know her abuser is there 24/7. We just need to be as prepared as possible and remind people of the ways to get discrete support in emergencies like dialling 55 when calling the police to signal an emergency where you can’t speak. 

  What have been the biggest challenges in this and how have you sought to overcome them?  

 I think the biggest challenges have been personal ones. I have been used to being in the office surrounded by people and having a laugh with staff. So, I think a lot of self-reflecting and relying on my own judgements have been challenging.   

Has anything really stood out to you recently and made you feel inspired? 

 Yes! I have a lady at the moment in a refuge, she is really finding it difficult as she has three children and one of her children is autistic and really struggling without the internet.  He is used to having to playing on games to keep him stimulated. Whenever I call her there’s always lots going on and she keeps her spirits up every day and is trying to find things to keep her children entertained when really she is struggling on her own. 

 In addition to this, her abuser is still trying to control and frighten her by contacting social services and making  allegations about her parenting and threatening to get the baby removed from her care through the family courts. But she never complains about anything, she is just getting on with it and is always really positive. I just think she is a really positive person and I wish everyone could be a bit more like this right now – including me! 

  Do you have any messages for people struggling to cope right now? 

 Honestly I just think knowing that this isn’t going to be forever has kept me going, being able to pick up the phone and not feeling like you’re being a problem to others is important too. 

 I just want to say a big thank you to those continuing to work in the community, I think that you’re doing an amazing job and a credit to us all. 

Karol, service manager, Home and Communities

Karol is a service manager, working across our Homes and Communities services. His teams have really been in the spotlight right now since they’re still getting up and going in to Supported Living homes, offering completely person-centred support throughout Covid-19.  

Karol has been flabbergasted by how responsive and creative his teams have been in preparing people for the situation, in explaining Covid-19 in a way that really resonates with them and in supporting them to be so self-sufficient and skilled in fighting the virus themselves. Karol’s seen additional support being offered to family members who fall into the vulnerable category, people being trained in tools to keep in touch their families, and tenants finding ways to maintain the wellbeing benefits of socialising whilst distancing – think outdoor cafes and distanced quizzes galore!  To help staff he’s done this himself. People are continuing to achieve things they never thought possible and Karol’s so inspired by the joined-up approach across PSS services. His team and the people he supports truly are his motivation and he wants to say thanks. 

 Tell us a bit about you, your interests, passions and life outside work  

like keeping fit and acrobatics, exploring, holidays and seeing new places and learning new skills in both personal and professional life. I’ve always liked learning new things, seeing new environments and being exposed to something different. I really enjoy Calisthenics and people often see me doing handstands around PSS head office. My other biggest passion is people. I enjoy learning about people and myself through behavioural science. Basicallyanything that allows me to be creative and sociable gives me a real buzz. 

Tell us a bit about your role and how you support people at PSS 

The job itself hasn’t got a beginning or an end really. The best way to describe it is just to be a creative catalyst to support people. It’s about being responsible and reliable, creative and flexible. People management to housing management to gardening. Every day is different and every day gives an opportunity to challenge myself and mindset to learn something new.
 

Why did you choose a career in social care? 

My mum was a teacher and she was always a people person so that has been instilled in me from a young age. I always volunteered in parish centres and when I was in high school, growing up in Poland worked with kids and adults with disabilities and then did special education in universityIt’s always been my career pathway. You know what you are there for. You feel chosen to do it, it’s just who I am really. I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. What I do is completely in tune with my character and personality.

 How have you adapted the support you usually provide during Covid-19? 

First and foremost, we had to be very responsive and creative with how we provided support. What is really important is that frontline staff and people who use our services understand what circumstances we are under. We did quite a lot of work when lockdown commenced. This has been an ongoing thing of supporting people with different levels of understanding. We had to tailor explanations to suit specific people and manage anxieties. One major change was switching shift patterns to enable support workers to spend more time with their family and with people at home. This is really important too. We sorted the shifts to reduce the spread of the virus and also support positive wellbeing. 

We used a joined-up approach across PSS, working with finance team and community support teams. Some support workers joined us from other services and we were able to limit the number of staff going out regularlyWe have people from our finance team doing all the online shopping and community support workers have become weekly shoppers. They would usually support people out in the community taking them out and about. They now provide essential support to families really in need. For example, a gentleman who we support in his 70’s who lives next door to his 94-year old mother and they can no longer see each other. The team are delivering food and essentials to her too as well as giving him additional support. For those who can’t receive face to face support, we do check-ups and signposting over the phone,so they can access anything. We keep the signposting really localised, for example a butcher was delivering hampers to vulnerable people so we let people know about this.

Making the environment that people live in as safe as possible also took lots of clever thinking and logistics. Work was done  with tenants to keep people safe. Tenants have been a crucial part of this and embedded those changes. Our teams have really helped them to understand the potential implications of their behaviours on spreading the virus – working with them rather than talking to them. It’s a very ‘all for one’ approach. People have been going out and collecting prescriptions for their friends in the service, staff members have been very committed to not leaving the house as much as possible and drop offs have been made to doorsteps. Karaoke, puzzles, board games and lots more ways to keep up morale have been happening. One of the biggest concerns was around PPE and how best to use it and staff quickly adhered to the government adviceThe PSS tech team have also embedded technology within houses to help people to stay connected which is so important for their wellbeingThere has been lots of cohesion across services. 

What have been the biggest challenges in this and how have you sought to overcome them? 

 One of the biggest challenges is how we can get commitment of staff members to make sure that people who use the service will understand and adhere to the lockdown measures. How we stress the importance of this across everyone is so important. Staff teams have worked with their team to actually keep people engaged and help them to really understand the potential implications that going against the rules might haveStaff have talked people through their letters and there has been lots of perseverance and patience. Engaging with people was also a concern but lots of new ways to engage have been introduced like pub quizzes. If people do choose to go out, they’re supported with how to be safe, washing hands procedures and easy read videos to explain all of this. There’s been lots of careful hard work to ensure people understand early doors.

 Has anything really stood out? 

There’s a few examples of how people have adapted. A tenant who doesn’t live with his girlfriend, has been supported to carrying on meeting her in the garden two metres apart. One lady who lives with two gentlemen who have to completely isolate has been helping to support them throughout and they have introduced an outdoor cafe where she can meet up with her son in the back garden. Another  tenant who is recovering alcoholic has had some relapses in the past. This would often escalate to her calling an ambulance. Now, recognising the strain this might have on the NHS in such desperate times, she wants to stop. She has now requested for alcohol closure to be added to tenancy – this means that her drinking can result in her being asked to leave her tenancy. Two ladies at Newby House (our mental health reablement service) have been using Whatsapp and apps to communicate with families and using arts and crafts to express themselves. Another tenant who had been discharged from hospital after a hip replacement usually had four carers coming in to support her – after lockdown she has decided that she would like to put as little people as possible at risk so has done her best to be as self-sufficient as possible. This has really helped her recovery process.  A tenant with claustrophobia and a high level of dependency now picks up his medication from the office. In the past the anxiety would have been too much to do this. 100 feet to him represents 100 challenges and 100 reasons not to do it. But he has overcome this, inspired by what he is seeing around him and wanting to support staff.

  What has kept you going and do you have any messages to people also working on the frontline right now, or people finding themselves overwhelmed by everything?  

What keeps me going is a sense of responsibility – you can’t stop. Also the people who use our services and keeping them safe. Frontline staff teams who surprise me with their kindness and reliability, the way they throw themselves at things My team need support and encouragement for what they doThey even delivered me a healthy hamper of fresh fruit and veggies for easter, knowing I would prefer this and benefit more from it than chocolate. It’s the little gestures like this that show how thoughtful they are. 

Debbie, support worker, HMP Altcourse Visitor’s Centre

Our Altcourse Visitor’s Centre supports families with a family member in prison. People can get support when visiting their family member and receive signposting to other useful services. With limits on visits to prison during Covid-19 there is now an enormous strain on families. Jane and Debbie who usually provide face to face support at the centre, have stepped in to offer support safely and remotely. They’re running the Covid-19 Family Support Line for people with a member of their family in prison at HMP Altcourse. This is now open from 10:00 am to 3:00pm, seven days a week.  

Debbie’s main focus usually is to make prison visits as pleasant and easy as possible, to dispel any fears and anxieties and to provide help and support to their families. Usually Debbie runs a play area for children in the prison as well as facilitating reading and bathing time for dad’s in prison for much-needed bonding and to give mums a rest. Debbie’s shift patterns have changed and they’re dealing with lots of phone calls of people who are very distressed and need support. People who the team knew were especially vulnerable or isolated were contacted initially and offered emotional and practical support. They are being checked up on every week or two weeks, depending on their needs. Many of these people would have no form of contact otherwise. If you have a family member in Altcourse prison, you can contact : 0151 521 6213 or 07595 863154 for advice.  

Here’s a bit more about how Debbie has been offering support…

Tell us about yourself 

 I have worked for PSS in Altcourse for six years now. Before joining PSS I volunteered my time to support people in the Anfield community. I am involved in our communities residence group B2U which PSS helped support us to set up.  I enjoy going to the theatre and weekends away with my family.  I am passionate about helping anyone in need. 

What does your role usually involve? 

In my role at Altcourse we process visitors in and run the play area for children. Our main focus is to make their visits as pleasant and easy as possible, to dispel their fears and anxieties and to provide help and support to their families. We provide activities for the children in play area. We also run family days once or s twice a month.   I also volunteer to support a reading club in the prison (run by G4S family wing) of a Wednesday morning. Dads and grandads in prison will get the chance to read with their children, have lunch and play games with them. They can also use the baby room to bathe their children (this is something that otherwise they would never be allowed to do)This provides much needed family bonding time and helps the mums and nans to relax, read a magazine and have some time-out for a chat.

Why did you choose a carer in social care? 

I chose a career in social care to make a difference in peoples lives and to help people. 

How have you adapted the support you usually provide? 

We have adapted the support we usually provide during Covid-19 by changing from face-to-face support to telephone support. We have contacted the individuals with a family member in prison who we were aware of that lived on their own and had no internet access. We have, with their permission, contacted them weekly or twice a week depending on their needs, to check on their mental health and wellbeing and to give them uptodate information on Covid-19 and any additional support they can receive. One gentleman in particular was overwhelmed that we had thought about him and enjoys a phone call for a little talk about what is going on in the world in general.  Also one ladya grandmother who has not even visited yet and is quite anxious about her grandson, has been supported with her anxiety. We also check people are able to access food and grocery shopping. We make them aware we are here to help them or point them in the right direction. For some of these people we are the only people who phone them.  

Have any examples really stood out? 

One gentleman I knew visited a few men in the prison. He volunteered to visit people who would not otherwise get a visit. I knew he lived on his own and could not use a computer and would be quite isolated. We have been able to offer support to him over the phone  

What keeps you going?

My family and staying positive that we will all get through this. I remain positive by contacting relations and friends who are isolating on their own and chatting for a while on phone or on a video call.  It is the simple things in life, talking face-to-face, hugging, shaking hands, showing physical contact that we all take for granted that is now taken away but will never be taken for granted again. Many frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, care workers,  posties and binmen are braving grave odds every day. They are heroes. This pandemic can only be won because of them. Their expertise, commitment, care sacrifice and selfishness. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.  

Sandra Odogu, mental health practitioner at our Wellbeing Centres 

Our Wellbeing Centres support people with mental health needs through activities and group sessions that allow people to express themselves, to connect with others and to manage their condition. Since Covid-19, group sessions are no longer able to take place and people are being supported on a one-to-one basis over the phone as well as using the Upbeatblog.me to share resources and useful activities.

Sandra, one of our mental health practitioners has had to rethink the way she usually does things completely in the absence of the ‘safe place’ which is how people supported refer to our Wellbeing Centres. She says ‘I know what it’s like to see a flicker of hope in someone’s eyes who has come along in great distress. Believe it or not I can still detect it over the phone’. She has been so inspired by their resilience and adaptability during these uncertain times, especially by peer supporters who once used the service and now support others. Everyone’s been embracing the online world to keep on helping others. And the people she supports are so thankful to have experts like her at hand when they need it.  She’s one of our #NeverMoreNeeded squad at PSS.

Meet Sandra:

Tell us about yourself 

I’ve got three adult children and two grandchildren and I’m an avid believer in life-long learning. My interests include: dancing (jazz dance, tap, salsa and more lately belly dancing!) I also enjoy local history, particularly old photos and genealogy as well as art, travel and creative writing; there’s always something I want to do or know more about. 

Tell us about your role in the Wellbeing Centres  

I work as a practitioner at PSS Wellbeing Centres, and alongside my colleagues, facilitate group sessions at our centres. These include: anxiety management, lifting mood, mindfulness and relaxation. Many more groups are available on our timetable and it’s growing all the time. 

What made you choose a career in social care? 

There’s no simple answer to how I got into social care. Sometimes there aren’t any big plans, it’s not all worked out. We discover things as we go along, adapt and change. I went back to college in my late twenties for O and A levels, as they were then.  I was taking a break of a few years after my middle child was born. I went to art college as a mature student, then worked in a number of charities, mostly around communications, public relations and newsletters/publications. After getting a counselling qualification, I started with PSS. 

What has been the biggest challenge during Covid-19 and how have you adapted? 

I work with a fantastic team at PSS Wellbeing Centres and we’re nothing if not adaptable! The biggest challenge for people we work with is that they feel they have lost their ‘safe place’ which is how many people refer to our service. As well as the coping strategies people had learned from the courses, the connections with staff and the friendships they had made weren’t there anymore.   

This was our biggest challenge as staff as well. It was important then to have a plan. We took a couple of weeks phoning every single person who came to our centres to see what support we could offer them. Our upbeatblog.me which had been in operation for a number of years really came into its own. It’s grown out of all recognition. It’s fabulous. People who use our services, peer supporters and staff really have adapted to our new way of working and there is so much on there to keep that connection with people going. There is something for everyone. What a talented bunch! 

What’s inspired you and kept you going? 

Talking to so many people dailywe all hear so many inspiring stories. It’s safe to say that people surprise me with their growing resilienceeven though they don’t always recognise it themselves. Yeswe all have a wobble now and again and are sometimes overwhelmed by the enormity of the present situation. But that goes for everyone. There is no them and us. There never has been. 

What would you say to people working on the frontline right now? 

Not sure I feel qualified to give advice to people on the frontline but I would say, remember why you’re doing the job you’re doing. I know what it’s like to see a flicker of hope in someone’s eyes who has come along in great distress. Believe it or not I can still detect it over the phone. You are making a huge difference in people’s lives, now more than ever.  But also take time to look after yourselves, eat, sleep, exercise, laugh and talk. We are all in it together.  

Rachel McCluskey, Team Leader, Family Impact

Our Family Impact teams support families with a family member in prison and/or a family member struggling with substance misuse. This can be difficult on the whole family, especially, as is often the case, when grandparents find themselves becoming kinship carers for their grandchildren. And this struggle has been particularly heightened for some during Covid-19 who are in the shielded category and are advised to not leave home whilst caring for children.  

Over the phone support is still being provided and phone top-ups have been gifted to those struggling to afford this. And recently our #frontlineheroes have gone one step further, safely delivering food parcels and shopping vouchers to the homes of those most in need along with activity packs and sports equipment to stay active at home. They were able to do this after a generous donation was made to the service.This will really support families to keep going through the crisis and stay strong. Our Family Impact team are doing an incredible job. #NeverMoreNeeded 

Here’s a bit more about Rachel and how her service has adapted through Covid-19:

Tell us a bit about you, your interests, passions and life outside work 

Most of my time is taken up being a football mum either taking my son to football training or standing on the side-line in all weathers both Saturday and Sunday. I do like to go on holiday with my friends and I am always up for dinning out, epically in Turkish or Greek restaurants. I also love a god box set and enjoy switching off in front of the television after being at work and a good book in the garden in the summer. 

How do you support people in your role usually? 

My role is quite varied as I am team leader on a few different services within the organisation. 

Family Impact: Drugs and Alcohol is where I spend most of my time. It’s where I have worked since my very first day when I joined the orgainisation, over 14 years ago now. I started as a parttime early years worker on the project then became a project worker, specialist practitioner and now a team leader. We are a small team. I manage Jane who directly supports cases with parents, grandparents, children and young people affected by a family member who is struggling with substance misuse. I also support on the planning and delivering of group sessions, fun activities deliver one-to-ones and I co- facilitate the delivery of the Family Links Nurturing Programme. I manage Jess on the Family Impact: Prisoners’ Families service which supports families with a family member in prison. This can include discussions around cases, letter box contact and activities for children and grandparents. We also have some people that are supported by both services. Both services are great to work on with every day being different and lots of exciting activities happening as well as working some really difficult cases. One minute I am in a meeting, next I can be shopping, delivering in a session or climbing a wall. 

 Why did you choose a career in social care?  

Before I worked at PSS I was a manager in a nursery and had been there 12 years when I had my own son. When I saw the advert to work in PSS, it sounded perfect. I was so nervous waiting to be interviewed but here I am years later. 

How have you adapted the support you usually provide during Covid-19?  

 We have continued to support the people who use our services via phone and using a number of different communication channels – from Whatsapp to Zoom. I have continued to be available and chat regularly with staff and in teams. All the teams have been really busy checking in with families and providing a listening ear and giving them ideas and resources for families to do in the home to help with routines and keep the children busy. We’ve also delivered items to families to help them to keep busy. Items have included: books, football nets and balls to help support parents and carers to encourage children into the garden and away from computers. We’ve also provided hoovers to help them keep homes tidy, tablets to do homework on as well as food and essential items. Jane has continued to support a mum who needed blinds in her new home and these were fitted from a safe social distance. 

 Therapy sessions have continued to be delivered using video calls which is really tiring for our therapists but they have been determined in making it work. They’ve even provided top up for mobile phones to ensure that the people accessing the service have tools they need for this to happen and regular contact. Letters have been sent from homes to keep in contact if not possible to continue with communication 

 What have been the biggest challenges in this and how have you sought to overcome them? 

 Social distancing while ensuring the team stay safe has been a challenge as we have delivered items to front doors knocked and ran away to a safe distance. Delivery was our initial challenge as it was so hard to get food ordered, so the team moved forward with obtaining vouchers, doing shopping as we needed it there and then. The team, with the support of the students on placement, have done a great job getting items to families.  

  Has anything really inspired you?  

The continued passion of the teams and wanting to support and continue to provide a service while overcoming any challenges, including queuing at supermarkets, driving around to homes and helping with every practical detail you could imagine like getting electricity before someone ran out 

 What has kept you going? 

 As we are used to being busy, this has continued with everything still going on and more, the thanks and the difference that some of the items have had on families has been great to hear, and this has hopefully had a positive impact on their lives at this time. 

Sarah Dobie, manager Newby House

Sarah manages our Newby House mental health reablement service in Halewood, Liverpool. Sarah’s such a positive and proactive force within her team and beyond. Everyone at PSS knows just much she loves her job and how passionate she is about the people she supports; this has really shown itself in the past few weeks. 

Sarah was nominated by Lisa, a support worker on her team, who says that she feels blessed to work with her. Sarah has not only been making changes around the place to support tenants, introducing distanced quizzes, a hatch for safe collection of medication and celebrating those people using isolation as a time to get involved with new creative and mindful activities; she’s also been lifting the spirits of the entire organisation lighting up our staff intranet with songs and inspiring thoughts a-plenty. 

RecentlySarah’s supported people and helped to make the outdoor space at Newby look spick-and-span so people can meet up safely outside, she’s got people decorating the place with rainbows and she’s been giving her teams lots of praise. She sent in the video above to say hello and tell us a bit about how her team have been coping with Covid-19. 

#NeverMoreNeeded 

#MyHeroes 

Chrissie, Shared Lives carer, North Wales 

Chrissie is a Shared Lives carer in North Wales. Shared Lives is a bit like fostering, but the big difference is that it’s for vulnerable adults who want their own freedom in life to do the things they enjoy most. Daniel* lives with Chrissie and her husband in their family home.

Daniel has Asperger’s Syndrome and schizophrenia and normally leads a really active life out in his community. Because of COVID-19 he is now self-isolating at home. Luckily Chrissie has loads of outdoor space where he can lose himself in doing all kinds of fun, active things. He’s been recycling some old beds for wood and used the wood to make bird houses, bug hotels and a bumble bee box. Knowing how much he loves the outdoors and looking after the planet, Chrissie has supported him with this. He’s also been growing veggies to keep the family healthy at home.

Alongside supporting Daniel at home, Chrissie is also a companion for our TRIO service. This means she supports two adults with dementia symptoms to meet up and get out and about in their local community. Because the people she usually supports are now in isolation and feeling particularly lonely she’s been doing an awesome job of keeping their spirits up at home and giving them fun activities to do throughout the day. People supported by TRIO were recently safely delivered a large piece of a jigsaw each to decorate individually that will be put together at the end of all this as a memory of their experiences. They’re also getting involved in plenty of friendly competitions, getting their shopping safely delivered to their doorsteps and enjoying lots of laughs over the phone with their companions. Chrissie is so inspired by their positivity in these difficult times and the support they are giving to each other.

Thanks to Chrissie and other carers who are really stepping up and adapting for the most vulnerable. This person-shaped determination was #NeverMoreNeeded.

 #MyHeroes 

Jane, team leader, Supported Living

Jane’s team are one of those that truly amaze at PSS. They’re still out there on the front-line delivering truly person-shaped support to adults with complex needs. Our Supported Living teams are still staying in homes, keeping the most vulnerable people safe and happy. Jane’s absolutely flabbergasted by how the people she manages have taken everything in their stride. They’ve introduced special measures to support an entire family of someone who is in the shielded category and needs the utmost of care and protection; they’re supporting people to socialise from a safe distance where possible in the garden and they’re leaving their families behind, with longer shift patterns being introduced to suppress the spread of infection. Jane’s been doing her best to make sure the wellbeing of her team is paramount right now, knowing just how tremendously hard they’re working. 

It was really upsetting at first and we had to ask district nurses about what would happen if someone we support, who is very vulnerable, couldn’t go into hospital. They explained about palliative care and how this would work. These cold hard facts of the worst case scenario were really hard to process but really hit home with staff. The staff are doing everything in their power to protect him especially now, as well as everyone they support. Some staff have been living with him for 20 years and he’s become such a massive part of their life’, said Jane. Never has their determination been seen more clearly.  

What’s really stood out to Jane most of all is how the people we support have also embraced the changes and are really doing their bit to support the other people they live with. ‘They are so much stronger than people might think’, says Jane and this is what keeps her going. Above is a video of Jane and two of her colleagues clapping for Colonel Tom last Thursday. Tonight we’ll be clapping for you guys, our  #frontlineheroes.

#clapforourcarers #nevermoreneeded #myheroes.

Here’s a bit more about Jane:

Please tell us a bit about you, your interests, passions and life outside work  

 I’m very family orientated. I usually do a lot with my daughters and our dog Tilly. I’m a really organised person and people know me for being organised in every day life, just like in work. I like the stuff that most people like usually: holidays, meals with families and friends. I’ve been on lots of holidays in the far East and America – Orlanda  and Singapore were amazing! I like going for walks and reading too so I’ve been able to carry on doing some of the stuff I enjoy, thankfully! 

Please tell us a bit about your role and how you support people at PSS  

Obviously with my team leader role I support a team who run one of our Supported Living houses and step into others when I’m needed too – things haven’t changed on that front. I’ve been going in and spending time with the team and checking everything is ok and doing more socialising with them 

They’re more restricted now, spending long days working so they need some quality time too to check in on their mental health. If staff aren’t ok then they won’t be able to support people – they are leaving their families behind. It’s hard because some of the people we support can’t go out at all now and some are very limited, their whole lives have changed. Paul* (one of the people we support) lives there with his family members in our Supported Living home. He has complex needs, you see. He’s used to spending lots of time in his caravan and now can’t go there and can’t go out in the car. What they are doing instead is spending time in the garden and going on a nice walk during the shift,  playing games, doing word searches and stuff like that 

All the houses have been pulling together too. We’re sharing quizzes and organising little celebrations; trying to be cheerful to keep people’s spirits up. Where Paul is now is unbelievable – he is really chilled out and looks great.  It was really upsetting at first and had to ask district nurses about what would happen if he couldn’t go into hospital. They explained about palliative care and how this would work. These cold hard facts of the worst case scenario were really hard to processThe staff are doing everything in their power to protect him now. Some staff have been living with him for 20 years and he’s such a big part of their life. 

Why did you choose a career in social care?  

I was working in funeral care before and after losing my mum and dad this became quite overwhelming. I wanted a career change and I wanted to do something meaningfulSo I first started at Making Days South, one of our day centres in Garston, Liverpool. I absolutely loved it there. I do miss that – there was a real buzz and I love going to visit still.  I was there for 18 months and I’ve been with Supported Living for three and a half years now. It’s been amazing. wanted to do something that was rewarding and positive. Seeing how different people cope makes you appreciate life a lot more, you don’t realise what social care is until you’re in it.  

How have you adapted the support you usually provide during Covid-19?  

The biggest change is supporting people to understand. One of the guys we support just wants to hug everyone usually and it’s so strange to see him at a distance with his hands in his pockets. Everyone’s done an amazing job at supporting him to know what to do. We’ve got so much better with IT too and with our thorough health and safety processes. It’s really shown us what we are capable of. I have to say, our leadership team have been so helpful throughout, that’s helped a lot. 
 

What has kept you going and do you have any messages to people also working on the frontline right now, or people finding themselves overwhelmed by everything?  

I’m feeling grateful that I am well. Whilst I am missing family so much, I’m so grateful every day to wake up and feel well. Regular team meetings are good tooI just keep thinking about what we’re going to be able to do if we stay safe and well once this is all over. Thinking of all the good stuff to happen and having quality time when it eventually comes.  We’ll appreciate it a lot more then. I’m grateful to be in a job where I can really give back too.  

 Sarah, service manager, Making Days North and Community Support

Our Making Days and Community Support services are temporarily unable to run as they used to. Support workers who used to give support to adults with learning disabilities to lead active and meaningful lives in day centres and out in the community have had to think creatively to continue supporting those most in need and their families. This support was #NeverMoreNeeded. 

Sarah is so proud of the teams that she manages for being so responsive and adaptive. Many of them are stepping in to support other services like Supported Living and offering bespoke and safe one-to-one solutions for the most vulnerable. Whole families are being supported with food and essential deliveries being made to families in the shielded category, a support worker is spending time supporting someone online through their XBox to take pressure off their family and some staff are doing video exercise sessions to keep the people they support active. That’s the biggest thing for Sarah – seeing the big impact on whole families not just the one person being supported. Sarah’s been spinning so many plates to support her teams and make this happen. 

Read more about Sarah and our #NeverMoreNeeded teams:

Please tell us a bit about you, your interests, passions and life outside work 

I love being with my family, going on long walks and adventures with my two little girls 

 Tell us a bit about your role and how you support people at PSS 

 I oversee the day to day running of Making Days North and Community Support. I try to make the team feel valued and part of PSS, ensuring the we are able to offer a high quality service to all those who access our services 

 Why did you choose a career in social care?  

I have always wanted to work with people, I was treated less favourably when I was younger and I wanted to ensure others were treated fairly.  

 How have you adapted the support you usually provide during Covid-19? 

We have looked at each person individually and looked at what support would suit them, we have them looked at families and looked at what support would be best suited to support them at this time too.  

David, supported by Making Days North, requires a high level of support that we are unable to offer to him at home due to the dynamic of where he lives. So, we opened the day centre just for him. He has flourished, he has taken part in activities such as paining and gardening that he would not normally have been involved in. He is speaking all the time and is loving his time at the centre. We are also supporting one man who lives with his Nan who is currently shielding so we are providing one hour a day support to take him out for some fresh air and to give her some time to herself. Whilst out we pick up some basic home essentials for them too. 

In our Community Support service we have a very vulnerable family with both the mum of the person we support and herself being in the shielded category and having to stay indoors. They don’t have any other family members around to offer support so we are doing their weekly shopping and calling them two or three times a week to reduce their anxieties and loneliness. They really appreciate this. For one man whose family was really feeling the pressure we have started two-hour home visits three times a week to provide company and reduce his anxiety.  The man then got anxious that he would catch the virus from a person doing the home visit so we are now offering two hours support five days a week in which one of our support workers plays XBox online with the young man, to take some pressure off the family. 

What have been the biggest challenges in this and how have you sought to overcome them? 

Dealing with the loss of people we support and care for. We’ve also needed to get the staff team comfortable with tech and to support them with their own anxieties around the virus.  

Has anything really stood out to you right now? 

 Definitely! We have one person who has agreed to offer support that’s very different to her normal work as this is with a child. We also have a member of staff who has been trying to do gym sessions over Facetime. Staff are really being flexible.  

What has kept you going and do you have any messages to people also working on the frontline right now, or people finding themselves overwhelmed by everything?   

To see the difference our support has made to whole families not just the person we support. Even the really small things like making a phone call to those who have no one else to talk to has made a massive difference. For people to remember that this is hard and it is ok to take some time out, talk to people and most important have some fun and laugh.  

Stay tuned for more #NeverMoreNeeded stories from across PSS services…