Get Creative with Communication By Leanne Hignett, Service Delivery Director. It’s funny how just the other day I was talking to one of our Advocates about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and self-isolation. She made a very good point about how ‘people may now realise what it feels like to be restricted and not able to leave their home freely. They will realise what it’s like not to have full autonomy’. I had to agree, we take the smallest things for granted, but when they are restricted or gone completely, it has a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.We know how important it is to stay connected with the people we love, to have a sense of purpose, and do the things that bring us joy. Many of which we have had to rethink temporarily. Advocacy plays such a key role in ensuring that people can do the things that make them happy, that bring them joy, that help them live the life they want to live. It’s been a challenging time to ensure that these things continue for people the best they can, in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We have of course been keeping in touch with the people who we support and checking that arrangements are in place for them and where they are not, we work together to get them in place. For those who are unable to share their views and opinions on their current situation, because they lack the capacity in this area, this has been more of a challenge. We have been checking the best we can that essential safeguards are in place and that they continue to live a quality and happy life under the circumstances. Using the Technology During this process we have come across many care homes that don’t have the technology in place to facilitate any form of video contact. Technology such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime video platforms that could sustain vital video contact with family, friends and for people that have no one in their lives, Advocates. This situation has understandably left families concerned about not being able to see their loved ones and visually check that they are ok. At a time when human connections have never been more important. We try to make sure that those who cannot have visits from family or friends because of coronavirus have arrangements for 'effective communication' so why isn’t this happening within every care home? Now it may be early days and care homes have had to adjust to this daily changing situation like the rest of us, but this should now be a key priority for all care homes. "How would you feel if you were living in imposed isolation with no contact from the people you love most in the world?" Mr Justice Hayden (in his interim guidance to providers and commissioners awaiting the revised Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice) said that 'staff within care settings should be creative in their attempts to keep families in touch with each other’. Which as Advocates we support wholeheartedly. A case heard within the Court of Protection this week discussed the issues around contact with family in care home settings. The judge was very clear that care home staff need to use all the creative options available to them to facilitate effective communication. For those care homes that are doing just that, I take my hat off to you, you rock! For those which are not, it is inevitable that everyone will need to move towards more creative ways of communication through use of technology even those who have never used technology before. Start to have conversations about how you can move towards this and get a Wi-Fi connection, a few phones or tablets. Those in positions of trust and power need to enable this to happen for those who are unable to do this for themselves. And I leave you with this, how would you feel if you were living in imposed isolation with no contact from the people you love most in the world? How would you feel if the carers that tend to your daily needs didn’t facilitate contact with your loved ones? What would be your worst fear, the virus or losing contact with the people that make you feel safe, loved and connected? "For those care homes that are doing just that, I take my hat off to you, you rock!" I hope this is food for thought, and that everyone who is reading this is able to stay in contact with their nearest and dearest. But for those of you who are facing difficulties or meeting dead ends when it comes to seeing and speaking to your loved ones, ask the care provider what their response would be to Mr Justice Hayden when they are answering to him in The Court of Protection. Leanne x If you liked this post, why not read Leanne's blog on some of the challenges we are facing in light of COVID19 here.