Lockdown: Child and Family Services and their impact
January: A reflection of the month for therapy services by Lindsay Hardy, Head of Clinical Services and Child and Family Services.
Our therapists have been providing a mix of services so far this term. All those working in school settings, Pace School, Vale Schools and Heritage House are providing a mixture of face-to-face and remote therapy (teletherapy) services. In Child and Family, we very much have a virtual first approach, with a handful of families having face-to-face sessions to date.
We have had 34 new inquiries in Child and Family through January, that’s more than one per day! Many have already been seen and others are being processed. We are so proud to be able to offer our therapy virtually to the families that need us. Reaching families from across the country is a real focus for us. They need our support now more than ever, and we are set up and ready to help.
The wonders of teletherapy mean we have visited homes in W1 and E1. Magically, we’ve moved from a sitting room in County Armagh, to a kitchen in County Berkshire. We’ve sat and shared tears on the stairs in Slough, and smiles with a new family living cheek by jowl with cousins during lockdown. We’ve seen families in Leicestershire, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, West Yorkshire, Coventry and Leeds.
Just last week whist watching the snow come down outside our windows we could see the sun shining through the windows in Pakistan.
We have reflected and discussed. Are we happy that what we are providing is good practice when we cannot be ‘hands on’? Parents have fed back that what we are providing for them is the support they seek. We learn and confirm that sometimes what’s needed is a kind and knowledgeable ear. Parents are bravely sharing their stories of the self-acknowledged trauma they and their babies have been through. For others their worries about their children are growing louder whilst alone in the quiet that Covid brings.
Our teletherapy offering is to be professionalised and glamourised by the addition of resources such as dolls for demonstration, video resources to support families, and better equipment to ensure an excellent experience for our families, spearheaded by Physiotherapist, Sonia and Occupational Therapist, Luke.
The provision of our teletherapy service has been boosted by the government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund. It is thanks to this fund that we are able to offer our specialist virtual sessions for free.
We are excited and inspired by the number of families coming to us and their positive feedback. We also teeter on the edge of exhaustion as we cope with the demands of face-to-face requirements at Booker Park and Heritage House, the still new world of coaching parents over the airwaves, and staff being absent due to Covid, having to isolate or being furloughed due to family demands.
On top of this, four of our therapists are studying various Masters modules. Nadine passed her penultimate one this week. Sarah and Lucy are studying Newborn Behavioural Observations and Cues. Sylvia and I have been brushing up on our baby yoga and massage to create our own Pace brand for children and families with additional needs. Sarah and I have launched into the Trauma Informed Care module, which is both interesting and enlightening, spending evenings in discussion groups with American therapists and nurses who we find very sharing, for we retiring British therapists. And Kris is honing up on anxiety and school refusal and challenges around school in Covid times.