Women’s Services in West Yorkshire and Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire
The women’s services across WY and HLNY have been required to implement some innovative ways of working to continue to deliver services to some of the most vulnerable female service users throughout COVID-19, whilst ensuring they adhere to the government restrictions on social distancing. This has meant that the usual face to face delivery model has had to be replaced with various work arounds and in some cases the need to introduce some new processes. The Exceptional Delivery Models (EDMs) which each organisation has developed have ensured on-going support to women service users.
The details of how each of the women’s providers has responded to the challenges of COVID-19 are set out below.
Together Women Project WY & Hull
Phone contact 1:1 has replaced face to face support with customers and has been very successful. It has enabled them to be immediately responsive to the women’s individual needs and situations. For customers with childcare needs, employment responsibilities, caring responsibilities or their own physical or mental wellbeing issues, it has enabled them to still be able to work through their order at a suitable pace, without any barriers in place that relate to attending the women’s centres. TWP has been able to offer an increased amount of crisis intervention work via the phone that women quite often desperately require, but TWP are not always in a position to offer in the busy women’s centre environment.
Phone contact will be incorporated into the future service delivery model, particularly for those that have valid reasons for struggling to engage with their order in the conventional way. It would increase capacity to offer immediate/practical support that women often need prior to them being able to engage with structured programmes. This increased flexibility would help to improve the engagement of women who are initially reluctant to engage and those that struggle to attend appointments due to living in rural areas.
RAR delivery of the three interventions delivered by TWP has continued to be delivered on a 1:1 basis over the phone. This has not been ideal due to the absence of group discussions where women are able to share their thoughts with others and look and shared solutions to problems they may be experiencing. It has, however, meant that women have been able to continue and complete the courses they commenced prior to lockdown and in turn complete their RAR days.
TWP have also designed and created several distraction packs that have been sent to their service users. These contain information about COVID-19, keeping safe during this time and useful contact telephone numbers together with activities such as crosswords, quizzes and mindfulness activities. These have been such a success with service users that they have been shared with the other women’s providers to share with their service users.
Humankind – North Yorkshire
Within the first 2 weeks of lockdown, Humankind created an additional template to their case management system. The template is a COVID-19 Risk Assessment for service users so the team could complete this assessment with each woman on their case load. The assessment highlighted additional areas of need, such as those that were shielding and those that required support for food and medication deliveries.
The assessment also prompted the team to enquire about their service user’s wellbeing to ensure they had additional support in place should they need it. Extra remote contacts (phone calls) were scheduled in for service users that asked for them. They will continue to use the additional COVID-19 Risk Assessment for all new service users and continue to offer additional wellbeing support, alongside structured sessions.
One to one support and RAR delivery has been delivered remotely via the phone during COVID-19. Humankind will continue to utilise remote communication methods, including remote RAR one to one delivery. This would be offered to service users who reside in remote areas and who are unable to travel to a group venue as they have found that the engagement levels of service users has increased during this time. This may be because people have felt isolated and have appreciated the additional support the service is offering.
Humankind will continue to utilise Microsoft Teams for Team Meetings as this will reduce travel time, allowing for more time to be spent supporting service users. Staff training has been adapted to be accessed online which cuts down travel time to and from training venues.
Lincolnshire Action Trust – Lincolnshire
LAT have delivered one to one support over the phone. The needs of the service users have increased during this time and as the CRC issued phones to those who did not have them, this has meant that phone support can be offered.
LAT have maintained regular contact with their service users supporting with requests specific to those at risk from COVID-19. These have ranged from organising food parcels, delivery of white goods and furniture, medication and contraception, to arranging to have a service user’s dog fostered while she was in temporary accommodation and at risk of eviction.
Two significant challenges have been supporting those service users who are homeless, as the process for accessing long-term accommodation was taking longer and evidence of a marked deterioration in women’s mental health and a requirement for supporting them to come to terms with isolation. The latter became increasingly difficult for those who were used to attending group sessions and had started to build up relationships with others.
LAT had not started RAR delivery as their contract extension started 6 months later than the other women’s providers and planned joint delivery of the first session had to be put on hold during the initial stages of the EDM. However, LAT staff continued to familiarise themselves with the materials and have engaged with the CRC to progress delivery on a one-to-one basis while the EDM continues. They have linked in with the other providers to share and learn from them.
Each of the women’s service providers across HLNY and WY implemented their EDMs with speed, innovation and imagination. Throughout this period, all staff have gone above and beyond to sustain levels of support to service users while finding ways to develop and learn from their models. Already, they are looking at next steps – a Recovery Model – and liaising with CRC colleagues for the benefit of their service users.
Gareth Snaith, Contract Performance Manager, 3SC