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Being in lockdown when you live in supported housing

Tue, 28 - April - 2020

The support we provide day-to-day for our tenants to maintain their mental health and wellbeing has never been as vital as it is now.  Prior to Covid-19 we would be actively supporting tenants to engage in the local community, attend day centres, go for walks, attend appointments, visit family and friends, and to avail of supports from partner agencies; now we are faced with trying to maintain as ‘normal’ a routine within the House and help tenants adapt to their new, but thankfully temporary, circumstances. 

Our tenants are faced with spending more time in the house than they have previously been used to; day centres have closed, family and friends can no longer provide tactile support and activities we all take for granted, such as going out for a cup of coffee or nipping into Belfast, are no longer possible. 

In the House staff are trying to keep everyone as positive as possible and new routines have evolved; instead of getting up for day centre and appointments or participating in group activities, we are now spending more time pottering in the gardens enjoying the better weather, keeping in contact with family and friends through new mediums, celebrating birthdays and planning for activities we can do when current restrictions are lifted. 

Evenings are now spent in the company of each other watching movies, clapping for all the key workers out there keeping vital services running, fixing up our greenhouse that got bettered in the recent storms and having a chat about what life was like before our new normal began; some of us would have dandered down to the local supermarket in the evening for a browse, others to McDonalds for a burger. 

We are now focusing on how we can relax and peacefully co-exist when it seems there is little to be cheerful about and not becoming too fixated by the news or consumed by minor disagreements.  The birds and squirrels that visit our gardens have never been as well tended to, their feeders are regularly topped up and their antics have become a source of unscripted entertainment and discussion throughout the day for everyone.

At times our tenants can feel more overwhelmed, distressed and anxious than normal and our focus as a staff team is now on how to support everyone to speak more freely and openly about their fears and reinforcing that no one is alone; every one of our tenants have already undergone very difficult and challenging times in their lives and we are helping everyone identify the extra supports they need to get them through this.  The situation we are currently in will not last forever, there will be new challenges beyond Covid-19 and what we are learning as a team is how we can best support each other now, and in the future.

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