As we begin to return to normal, we want to ensure that we learn from the experiences of the past year to make positive changes to how we all work, for the benefit of our own wellbeing as well as our clients’.

In March 2020, like so many others, we had to suddenly switch from all working together in the office to working individually from home, with no time to plan or prepare for it. Whilst dealing with the anxieties of the pandemic, we also had to work out how to use our IT systems from home, how to support our clients without meeting them in person, how to support each other from afar; all whilst home schooling our children!  It was overwhelming to say the least!

A year on, most of us have found that we can actually be more productive working from home.  Many of us have improved our ICT skills in general; we’ve all learnt how to use Zoom, and we’ve really got to appreciate how important it is to keep our database up to date.  We’ve banded together and become closer as a team, got to understand each other’s roles better than we did before, and tightened up systems where it was sometimes easy to miss a step, because we could no longer all see and talk to each other easily.

We’ve come up with creative ways to support our clients from a distance, and often been surprised just how much we are able to support someone virtually, without the benefits of non-verbal communication clues and lots of activities to signpost people to.  But we really, REALLY miss that face to face contact with each other and our clients.

Outside of work, we’ve learned not to take things for granted, to enjoy the day we are in rather than being stuck in the future – either worrying about it or looking forward to it.  We have learned to appreciate the little things – a phone call, a hug, sun rise, birds singing.  We’ve all had difficult times ourselves, experienced the loneliness, isolation and anxiety that our clients often face, and so we have had to challenge ourselves to do some of the things we ask our clients to do all the time – practising gratitude, mindfulness, boundary setting, goal setting, journaling, giving ourselves a break, thinking positively, asking for help.

The Volunteering in Health office at Teignmouth Hospital will be open Monday-Friday 10am-12pm from Monday 12th April.  However, we will not be accepting visitors at first due to the ongoing restrictions, we can be contacted by phone during our open hours on 01626 771695.  We hope to be back open from 10am-3pm and welcoming visitors by the end of June at the latest.