During these extraordinary times, the demand on our front line services is unprecedented. The mental wellbeing of all of those we support is increasingly vulnerable at this time as the burden of anxiety, self-isolation and illness take an increasing toll. Like others, we have also seen a dramatic decrease in income from fundraising , activities and training whilst having increased staff costs, despite furloughing 5 staff, due to illness and self-isolation. We are also using existing staff to provide transport for critical team members as public transport becomes unavailable.
Our Residential Nursing Home, The Shires, supports 12 individuals 24 hours a day and who face restrictions on leaving The Shires as well as not being able to receive visitors. This has significant impacts on their already fragile emotional health. This is coupled with increasing need to use agency nurses to cover for staff who are with ill or self-isolating together with increased costs for things such as PPE.
Our Community Support Team works across the Herefordshire, supporting over 30 individuals with both practical and emotional support. We have had to adapt our ways of working to include both social distancing measures as well as use of phone and email support to those who are having to self-isolate. As statutory services such as Community Psychiatric Nurses are redeployed to the County Hospital, our team of support staff are working even more intensely to support and maintain clients emotional health. Our work in this area is expanding as we are also now supporting friends and families of those we work with (i.e. collecting and delivering shopping and medication for a client who is isolating with their vulnerable parents).
Our Community Hub, Heffernan House has had to close for face-to-face support, so we are working with our volunteers to support around 50 people each week with a mixture of telephone and email support as well as adapting our activities to virtual sessions (such as Skype song writing). We continue to plan further online presence to support the wider community.
We are extending our Safe Haven opening to include the upcoming Bank Holiday Weekend. This brand new service has also had to adapt to support via phone and email and is seeing increasing numbers of people contacting the service. Although new to the county, we continue to actively promote this and we anticipate contacts to increase to at least 10 per evening (individual support via Safe Haven can last up to 2 hours per individual which includes safety planning).
Cumulatively, our comprehensive services are also assisting to relive pressure on both local authority and health services by maintaining the wellbeing of already vulnerable adults, many of whom are also contending with significant physical health issues and well as mental health vulnerabilities.
Herefordshire Mind remains very much on the front line of supporting our county at this hugely difficult time and is being innovative and flexible and adhere’s to the ethos of "One Mind".
We are starting to plan for the "post-COVID" phase and its impact on the mental health of our community.