World Mental Health Day

12 Oct 2020

We have always prided ourselves on delivering not just housing for our residents, but somewhere to call home and to build their lives. World Mental Health Day is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of our dedicated staff working with customers throughout this difficult time, as well as to credit our customers for adapting to the ‘new normal’.

Our modern, inspirational, mental health supported housing schemes transform the life experience and opportunities of people with mental health needs who were previously living in more institutional housing.

Our experienced and competent staff deliver effective support and care and have a range of skills and qualifications, including professional qualifications in social work and nursing. One staff member described how they’ve had to adapt to new safety measures and look after customers:

“Encouraging our customers to wear their masks. Some of them find it uncomfortable, but we keep on encouraging them because it keeps them safe. We encourage our customers to keep abreast of the news and discuss this with them. We switch on the news so that they can keep themselves updated and in the know. We keep going and keep encouraging everyone to keep safe.”

We work with customers who have a variety of needs including dual diagnosis, personality disorders, substance misuse, dementia and those with a forensic history.

Covid-19 has presented additional challenges to our services, such as an absolute ban on visitors and all mental health services receiving low coverage in the media. However, our dedicated key workers have helped our residents and customers to lead healthy and engaging lives throughout. Staff have had to adapt too, with one team member saying:

“For me, it was quite difficult, because I did not understand much about it, but then I learnt about keeping ourselves safe, how to keep our customers safe. It was not staff and customers anymore; we were all just vulnerable individuals. I was mostly here with one other staff member, and we were almost in a bubble, and the most important thing was keeping us and our customers safe. I am still learning, and I am still struggling. Every day. When can we go back to normal? When can we say to customers again that they are free and shouldn’t be worried? That’s the struggle for me. For me, it is bad enough, so how do I tell those with severe mental health needs? It will continue to be challenging.”

Some residents have found it challenging and difficult cope. One described how:

“At the beginning, I was surprised at the news of Covid-19. I wanted to do some research into it. I didn’t know who would be affected by it or anything. The staff helped me to understand what was happening. I spent a lot of time speaking to the night staff about it. Boredom set in. I overcame it though, I watched the television, and listened to the radio. I try to keep myself safe now. I try not to go out as much. I go to the shop to buy my drinks and that’s it. I don’t want to catch Covid-19.”

At our Camden-based care and support scheme, where 13 adults with complex mental health needs are supported, residents have been growing their own fruit and vegetables. When restrictions were first eased and garden centres given the go-ahead to reopen, Sarah, Care Home Manager, looked to make the most of their nearby centre: “It was a new thing that we decided to do and due to covid-19 restrictions, it was one of the safest places to attend… We bought a corn plant that is now growing in the garden and took it from there.”