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Practice during the pandemic

26 October 2020

Most professionals are struggling with Covid restrictions but it’s not stopped advocacy happening. We’re still working together.

Sue, VoiceAbility Liverpool

Advocacy has never been needed more than it is now. The stories below show our commitment to overcoming the challenges of practice during a pandemic, and making meaningful connections with the people who most need our support.

Support via phone, email and text

Patricia: One of my clients has depression and often doesn’t pick up the phone, which made it difficult for me and for social care assessors to contact her. But she responds well to text messages, so I was able to support her via text as well as phone, and make sure her assessment went ahead. I’ve also emailed her some of our leaflets, and she knows I’ll be here if she needs my support during the process.

Another client has anxiety and struggles with phone calls to professionals, so I call her to talk through the outcomes she wants, and the best approaches to take, before her phone appointments. She feels stronger and more confident now, and ready for the next stage in her journey.”

Richard: One of my clients was in danger of becoming homeless and living on the street. He also had asthma, and was very concerned about becoming infected with Covid-19 if he had to go out to appointments.

Through my work I was able to get my client all the information he needed to understand his rights and options, minimising the need for him to meet people face to face, and I supported him to find himself secure and affordable accommodation in a new flat.”

Working through a window

Niall: I’m setting up a meeting with a solicitor and a client in a care home where we’ll be outside in a garden, and be able to talk to the person through a French window in the day room. They’re going to be very vigilant… it’ll be interesting to see how that works out!”

Andrew: One of my clients is too anxious to leave his flat, and doesn’t have wi-fi or a mobile signal. I needed to talk with him about his care and support needs, so my manager and I completed a risk assessment. We decided it would be safest for us to talk through the client’s patio window, making sure that no one was close enough to overhear. The client was able to explain his views and wishes in a confidential meeting, and we protected his safety and rights despite coronavirus.”

Using PPE

Rebecca: My first client during Covid presented on the phone quite chaotic and has complex issues, so it was difficult to speak to her - she was just offloading. But when I met her, the dynamic was completely different. She had bought her own mask and gloves so that she’s able to meet me and any other professionals who are involved in her wider care. I was able to communicate with her more.”

Niall: Sticking masks on and gowning up, standing a distance away – as an advocate, your ability to communicate is being hampered. It’s an empathy exercise in experiencing what it’s like for our clients to struggle to be heard and understood - to learn what it might feel like for that person, so that you can be a bit more genuine when you try to help them.”

Thank you to all our advocates who are working so hard to rise to the challenges of practice during the pandemic. 

If you’re a health and social care professional, check out our mythbuster for info about advocacy during coronavirus, and your duty to refer - and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our latest activities.