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An interview with Freweyni, who stepped in to support our reablement team during the pandemic

We’ve been talking to our amazing colleagues who have stepped in to support our services during the pandemic. Read about Freweyni’s experiences of working in a new role.

Where do you usually work?
I have worked as a support worker for the Wokingham Day service for around 7 years, supporting adults with learning disabilities. I started out as casual worker, but really enjoyed the role so applied to become a permanent member of the team.

What have you been redeployed to do?
I have been working as a Reablement Assistant for the START Team for the last 2-3 months.

What type of things have you done so far?
I travel between houses, visiting customers who have been discharged from hospital. The support they receive is person centred, based on their needs. I also work alongside the OTs, providing assessments. The aim is to help them to be as independent as possible. Most of the people I am supporting live alone. Usually they would have family or friends helping them with their recovery, but because of the current situation nobody comes to them. It’s important we are there to provide the support they need.

How have you found it?
My new START colleagues have been welcoming and friendly. At first I was shadowing, working alongside other people, they were all open to sharing their way of working and would ask me how I am getting on.
I have got to the grips with the role now and I’m confident in what I am doing. At first the traffic was good, as there were hardly any cars on the road! Now it takes a little longer to get from one care call to another.

How have you stayed in touch with your old team?
We have all stayed in touch, mostly through a WhatsApp group. We are there to support one another and share our experiences.

How did you feel when you were asked to cover?
I was not happy at first. It was scary, helping people knowing there was a risk of Covid. I had to accept a new working pattern and felt daunted by working in a totally different team and a totally different role. It was difficult at first to adapt.

What has it been like working in a different setting?
The role is totally different to my role at the Day Service. I am used to working in a big team, now I work on my own or with another colleague if the care call requires 2 people (double up). At the Day Service I have got to know the customers very well, and know what they need. In the START service I am working with new customers nearly every day, so it requires a different approach. I’ve also had to learn to step back and encourage the customers to do things for themselves, as this is part of them regaining their independence.

What have you learnt?

I have learnt so much about myself and the skills I have. This whole process has really helped me grow in confidence.

How has Optalis responded to the pandemic to ensure employee safety and wellbeing?
The manager worked through a BAME Risk Assessment with me, I felt it was good that my personal needs were taken into account. I’ve also had all the PPE I need to do my job safely, as well as support from the team.
I have felt well informed by the organisation, through the regular updates, media clips and information.

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A Message from David Birch, CEO – Thursday 18 June 2020

An update on our progress and the current picture, taking account of the latest Government announcements on the easing of some of the lockdown restrictions.