Well, this quarter has seen a bit of a to-ing-and fro-ing, what with working in the office, then from home, then will we won’t we go back to the office…and now another lockdown to start the New Year!  We have all had to be flexible throughout, rolling with the changes and learning new skills as we go.

You may have noticed our increased presence on social media as we’ve welcomed our new Community Engagement Worker, Jess, to the team.  Jess is also getting started on an exciting new project working with people who have had several unplanned hospital admissions – more on this to follow in the coming months!

We had 5 new volunteer starters in the last quarter, and 14 new befriending matches made – thanks Erin, and welcome to our new volunteers!  Sally has been thriving in her new role – contacting and supporting volunteers and taking action to deal with any problems arising.  One of the volunteers visited his befriendee after the initial lockdown and was shocked at his wife’s deterioration in her mobility. He raised this with Sally when she gave him a support call, and Sally was able to arrange an OT assessment to get additional support in for this couple. Great work – and with a house move too!

Nicki has been promoted to the Senior Management Team in recognition of her amazing work on all the finances. Nicki joined us as a Finance Administrator, but she has developed and grown the role and does so much more than just ‘administer’ the finances and make sure we all get paid! There are a great number of little, and not-so-little things that Nicki does, which mean that everything goes smoothly here, and we don’t even notice half of them! It has already been very helpful having a meeting with Nicki, Jeannette, Chloe and myself to get a better understanding of how VIH finances all fit together. I am so glad it’s not my job though!

Zoe has been building up the Home Help Service – our Home Help client base grew by 75%, and our hours covered grew by 15% between October and December. We took on Gabby as an additional Home Helper in October, and Jacqui is joining us in January. Zoe has also been learning new Excel skills – one of her goals for 2021!

Transport is still running much lower than this time last year, but this is as much about medical appointments being reduced as anything else. Our wonderful drivers covered 216 health journeys in the last quarter. Despite only having 14 active drivers (as of January 2021), we have managed to cover over 95% of drives requested! Several of our drivers who had not driven since March responded to a call for help with transport for the Covid vaccine, and had already taken 18 people to these in December, meeting 100% of the requested drives for vaccinations! Wonderful!  Thank you Sheila for keeping the service running so smoothly.

We have had 160 referrals this quarter for our wellbeing services, and have supported over 350 people, including 145 in Dawlish Hospital!  Massive thanks to Jan for her work at Dawlish Hospital and the relationship she has helped to build between us and the team there over the years! Jan will now be focusing on supporting people who are given terminal diagnoses, and their carers. Over this quarter, Jan has supported 24 clients, and their families, as they have neared the end of their lives, and Amanda has  supported 25 dementia clients and their families.  Lockdown is hard on all of us, but particularly for these client groups so we are grateful to be able to offer this support.

We have seen a slight shift in the way that we work, with many clients needing more than our usual 1-4 visits for social prescribing, but not quite as much as the 12 weeks of Wellbeing Co-ordination.  The team has adjusted to meet this need and it’s given everyone an opportunity to try some different approaches.  We’ll be keeping an eye on this over lockdown and as we return to “normal” to ensure we are supporting our clients in the best possible way.  Gordon and Jessica have been working with the majority of these clients, whilst Jeannette and Teresa continue to support the more complex clients through Wellbeing Co-ordination.  Julie provides ongoing support to clients who have completed the Wellbeing programme to help them keep up with their goals sustainably and to pick up and act on any changes to their needs quickly.  Though now working at home, Julie was based within the Intermediate Care Team at the hospital last quarter and we know they are really missing her input now!

We are looking forward to getting stuck into 2021, supporting the vaccination programme with transport and in any other way we can.  The end of lockdown will be the start of some hard work supporting people to get their confidence back to get out there to groups and activities, building up confidence, meeting people and making new friends – we can’t wait to get back to what we’re best at!