Supporting Nick to move into Strawberry Fields during the pandemic
As the COVID pandemic lockdown began, our referrals team continued to work in partnership with commissioning authorities to safely advance admissions already in progress and support individuals to transition safely into an appropriate setting within Consensus.
Nick, aged 43, an individual with a mild to moderate learning disability and autism, was initially assessed before the pandemic and in April, he had been due to move into Strawberry Fields, a residential service for individuals with learning disabilities and complex needs, situated closed to Littlehampton, in West Sussex, however due to the COVID lockdown, his transition into the service had to be pushed back.
Nick’s current service was in the process of closing down and so there was some urgency in successfully transitioning him into Strawberry Fields as soon as was feasible.
As lockdown restrictions began to ease in June and July, a virtual meeting was organised between the team at Strawberry Fields and Nick’s current support team and his family to discuss next steps and it was agreed that a transition plan would be put in place.
A core team from Strawberry Fields was identified consisting of Team Co-ordinator, Stevye Mitchell and support workers, Barbara Amos, Sophie Mitchell and Ricky Keogh, who would take the lead in supporting Nick as he transitioned into the Service.
This began with the core team making an initial visit to meet Nick at his current service. Minimising the risk of transmission of COVID was an absolute priority and prior to the visit, the team all underwent COVID testing and provided evidence of their negative test results.
During the visit, the team also adhered to strict infection control measures, including temperature and oximeter testing on arrival as well as hand washing, donning the correct PPE and following strict social distancing upon entry to the service and throughout the visit.
The initial visit was a good opportunity for the team to spend time with Nick, to start building a rapport with him and to learn more about who he was as a person; his likes, dislikes, goals and aspirations.
Nick’s core team returned to his current service the following week for a two-day visit, staying in a hotel in Hook. Again, all members of the team provided evidence of a negative COVID test result prior to the visit and adhered to the strict infection control measures in place for visitors.
Having begun to build a relationship with Nick, the next stage was to invite Nick to visit Strawberry Fields, where he would be able to see his new living accommodation and have a tour of the service.
Nick and his current support team all underwent COVID testing prior to the visit and followed the services strict infection control measures on entry to the service.
After this Nick began coming over for day visits for a couple of hours at a time and the time, he spent at the service was slowly increased over the coming weeks.
Initially, Nick’s transition has been planned over 12 weeks, however by week five, everyone was in agreement that his transition was going so well, that the date could be brought forward and that he was ready to move into the service now.
On moving in day, Nick arrived at the service with his mum and dad and all his belongings. Nick was moving into one of the en-suite bedrooms in the main part of the service and the team arranged for his mum and dad to take him out while they set about setting up his room so that it exactly matched his bedroom in his old service. When he arrived back, he was delighted to see his room with everything in its correct place. He immediately felt at home, going straight over to where his toys are kept.
Service Manager, Chris Woolgar said, “Nick moved in three weeks ago now and from the very first day he arrived, he has been an absolute gem. We have been updating mum and dad every day on how he is settling in and what he has been doing. They can’t praise the team enough.”
“The service that Nick came from have also been very impressed with how the transition was managed by the team here and as a result we have received another two referrals from them to Consensus.
“Although the COVID pandemic can present increased challenges in navigating a safe admission, I am really proud of the team and their commitment to ensuring that we could successfully transition Nick into the service while at the same time keeping the existing individuals we support at Strawberry Fields safe.
“All the support team have been extremely vigilant in adhering to strict safety policies and procedures and to also keeping themselves safe outside of work in order to prevent the risk of bringing the infection into the service,” adds Chris.