Helping clients through the national COVID-19 lockdown was always going to be a challenge for people working in the disability services sector.
But by working in partnership, Hawke’s Bay disability service organisations managed to keep things ticking, delivering more than 50 resource and activity packs each week to people unable to attend vocational day programmes.
Enliven Disability Service Manager Andrew Wordsworth said not being able to provide face-to-face services was an unprecedented challenge for disability workers, who normally rely on seeing their clients in person.
“But we still wanted to provide vocational services and some form of activity for our people to help them make it through lockdown, to keep them engaged, keep them active, and give them things they enjoyed doing,” Mr Wordsworth said.
“We received funding from the Ministry of Social Development, so we bought art resources, developed numeracy, literacy and craft activies, and worked with Sport Hawke’s Bay to develop exercises for people with disabilities who were stuck at home, to keep them active while they were in lockdown.
“Our clients loved the details the tutors put in, to make packs specific to the individual, not just generic. Carers were really happy to have support and activities for their loved ones, too.”
Mr Wordworth’s usual role is Enliven Disability Service Manager, a service of Presbytarian Support East Coast, but his role over the past few weeks has been disability support network lead as part of the region’s civil defence response.
Since the start of the COVID-19 response, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has linked up with community organisations and agencies to create a “network of networks” working collaboratively with the group to look after the welfare needs of the Hawke’s Bay community.
The network of networks encompasses all sectors, from the migrant community to children, Māori, Pasifika, older persons, homeless people and people living with a disability.
Mr Wordsworth said the disablity network team quickly realised online activities wouldn’t cut it.
“We thought about providing online learning but the reality for our client group is their digital literacy can be limited and some of them don’t have access to technology – so we thought hard-copy packs would be the best thing to hand out to our clients.”
The team at Sport Hawke’s Bay put their hands up to help deliver the packs directly to clients. So far, they have delivered more than 200 packages – and counting.
Sport Hawke’s Bay Disability and Inclusion Advisor Katie Owen said the team was only too happy to help.
“The Presbyterian Support East Coast team has been incredibly appreciative of the support our team has offered to deliver the activity packs,” Ms Owen said.
“We were also really pleased to be able to provide a resource we had developed to go into these activity packs to support clients to stay active at home during the lockdown period.”
Ms Owen said the Sport Hawke’s Bay team has developed strong relationships through the “network of networks”.
“It’s certainly brought our disability sector closer together. Working together to find solutions to common challenges, supporting each other in the delivery of these solutions, and really understanding what the community we’re working to support is telling us, have been some really positive outcomes of our new partner relationships.”
For now, it’s not quite business as usual for the disability services sector as the country gets used to life at Alert Level 2, Mr Wordsworth said.
“Our services will have to look quite different for now – we can’t have as many people in at one time because of the physical distancing requirements, so we’ll continue to deliver activity packs throughout the week to clients who aren’t able to come as often as they normally would.”
For more information on COVID-19, visit www.covid19.govt.nz
20 May 2020
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