Day Opportunities stay connected with technology

As many of our Day Opportunities centres have had to temporarily close or reduce their service due to the Government guidance on social distancing, staff have been utilising different forms of technology in order to stay regularly connected with customers.

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Staff utilising tablet to talk with Rhys, an ECL customers.

At ECL Woodlands, the team have been ensuring they maintain contact with customers over the phone, including via Facetime, as Local Business Manager, Anna Gant, explains: “We recently held a Facetime call with one of our customers who is living at home with family, but is very anxious and now reluctant to leave the house, even for a walk. We thought he would benefit from face-to-face interaction and he seemed really happy to speak with us. We are trying to continue this on a weekly basis.”

ECL Ashleigh have been contacting their customers via Zoom, a cloud-based video conferencing platform. Local Business Manager, Kirsty Wright, says: “One of our customers, Rhys, has been missing the staff and his friends whilst being at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We spoke with his family and supported them to upload Zoom onto one of their devices at home to give Rhys the opportunity to link in with staff at the centre.

“Today we called through to Rhys, and he was extremely happy to be seeing the staff that he has missed and have a good chat with us all individually, including management. Rhys has helped us to organise a customer quiz via Zoom next Friday, as we all love a quiz and it will mean everyone gets to see each other.”

Many of our centres are holding live sessions with their customers via Zoom. ECL Greenacres piloted their first Zoom cooking session on Friday, where customers were guided by centre staff to bake shortbread in their own homes, and it was such a success that our Mid-Essex centres have now arranged Zoom activities for every day of the week, including gardening, arts and crafts, and a book club.

Karen Hales, Area Business Manager for Mid-Essex, explains: “When we trialled our virtual cooking session it was amazing seeing all of the customers and some of their families joining in and cooking. We had a few technical issues in the beginning, which is to be expected, but I think it’s important that we continue to adapt and use technology to support our customers during this time.”

Not wanting to miss out on their rehearsals, our ECL Drama groups have been embracing technology to continue to hold their sessions, with the Maldon group arranging weekly online sing-alongs to their favourite tracks, including ‘All that Jazz’ and ‘The Bombay’.

Community Care Assistant, Bethany Durling, is part of the team that runs Colchester’s ECL Drama group and, as well as planning to host virtual sessions, she has been sending videos of herself signing to customers, which she says they have found useful.

Bethany says:

It is important to use technology to connect with customers as it is a great way of being able to keep everybody up-to-date with information, as well as supporting them with activities. Being able to use technology means that we can keep everybody connected and continue to run sessions so that customers are still active and have something to work towards. Especially with times like now, customers do feel down about not being able to be around the ones they usually interact with. Having use of video calls or even phone calls allows us to remain connected and support their mental wellbeing.

Our centres in West Essex are busy filming a series of videos that they plan to share with customers, and other individuals that would like to get involved, via ECL’s YouTube channel. Keep your eyes peeled for fitness and Makaton sessions over the next couple of weeks.

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