We are Windward Day services, and as an organisation we have been providing day opportunities for adults who have a learning disability for almost 20 years. Our services offer meaningful occupation throughout the day to people, providing much needed social interaction and activities, as well as essential respite to parents and carers, many of whom work.
We provide opportunities to over 130 people across our 5 services in Hampshire and Dorset.
Unfortunately, due to the increasing threat of Covid-19, we had to temporarily close all of our services on 24th March, which meant an immediate change for everyone who accesses our service many of whom rely on routine and structure promoting a sense of familiarity and security (I’m pleased to say that we opened again in July 2020 and are thriving again!!).
For many of us, the change in daily life has been immense, but for so many people who have autism and a learning disability this sudden change can cause anxiety, confusion and even behavioural issues. Many services similar to ours made the decision to close and not offer any significant support, so what did we do I hear you ask…….
Under the leadership of our manager, Becky Hamilton and assisted closely by Jemma Errigo (office Manager) and Chris Gibbs (HR Manager), over the course of a week we completely modified and revolutionised the service we are currently able to provide. We set about offering as much as we could to our guys in a variety of ways, including:
-Becoming overnight IT experts, skilling up on software like Facebook and Zoom
-Our amazing staff then adapted sessions to be delivered online with a structured timetable to implement a sense of routine for people
-Offering ‘Zoom’ sessions including dance, choir, ‘Windwards Got Talent’ bingo, and, for people who may enjoy contact in smaller groups- end of day chats, enabling people to see those all-important familiar faces (a copy of this timetable is attached)
-We regularly contact each of our service users and their parents & carers to individualise what we could offer by establishing everybody individual needs and then offering everything in a person-centred way
-We drop off food, medicines and other essential items where needed
-We create individualised activity packs and resources & drop them to people’s homes
-We set up a couple of closed Facebook groups- one specially for the guys that attend our services to stay in contact with us and each other, and to stay abreast of the developing Covid-19 situation; and another for parents/carers to interact and share any common worries and concerns they may have.
We are currently looking into ways of reaching out to people who will be leaving school/college soon, who would usually be visiting us to see if we might be an option for them in the future. We will hopefully be offering out a range of Zoom sessions, so they can get a small taste of what life at Windward is all about and the things we can offer them in the future, once a sense of normality resumes. ‘Click’ is now up and running and is now a big part of our usual service 🙂
We continue to work very closely with all local authorities to help ease their burden by becoming the main point of contact for many vulnerable people. We have a great knowledge of the people who use our services and our relationships with parents and carers built on trust.
Some of the feedback we have received from service users, parents and carers in incredible and confirms to us that what we did during lockdown was genuinely appreciated and welcome during that uncertain period.
My colleagues did (and still are) doing an unbelievable job, I think they should be recognised for their ingenuity, flexibility and all-round fabulousness – all under the creative and dynamic management of Becky. These people are truly amazing and are an essential part of the often unrecognised and un-thanked social care workforce.