03 Nov 2020

Communicating with staff and service users through a pandemic

Effective communications have been vital during the 2020 pandemic for Helping Hands Community Care, the largest independent homecare organisation operating across Northumberland.

The organisation, with a dedicated team of more than 500 homecare support workers are travelling around homes in the county providing vital services to the elderly, disabled and vulnerable people has been managing its biggest logistical and organisational challenge in its 30-year history.

MHW has played a pivotal role in creating a steady stream of communication to a worried workforce, along with service users and their families.

Management has had to cope with increased staff shortages as personnel have been self-isolating, showing symptoms or COVID-19 and shielding because of other underlying health issues.

Social distancing rules meant that branch offices in both Hexham and Cramlington had to be reorganised and transfer to a new system of remote, home-based working.

At the start of the pandemic there was a struggle to secure greater supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) – gloves, aprons and face masks – with normal supply sources failing under an unprecedented demand for supplies nationally and globally. This situation altered and steadily improved. But throughout, staff and service users had to be informed of progress and then guidance on how to use the PPE.

As a result of all the changing issues Helping Hands stepped up communications to ensure regular updates to all the different groups via the Helping Hands App, greater use of social media, the website and telephone helpline.

David Harrison, MD of Helping Hands, said: “To say that this is quite unlike any other situation or crisis the organisation has faced is an understatement. The challenges have been significant and the stress on the support team and families we support has been constant.

“Our investment in technology in recent years has proved an enormous asset during this crisis, allowing us to quickly communicate our own information along with the latest guidelines from Public Health England and other government and healthcare authorities.

“MHW PR has played an important role throughout the year creating content and updates that have kept staff informed and service users and their families reassured at all time.”

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