Engaging with guests in lockdown.

I got my dream job at Leuchie nearly 3 years ago. I remember driving up the beautiful drive on my first day, chatting to my first guest, having my first lunch in the Leuchie staff room and meeting the amazing team; knowing it was somewhere that would give me a huge dose of motivation, a tremendous appreciation for the little things, and above all a laugh and a giggle every day.

My role has changed considerably in the current climate. On March 19th we were told that Leuchie would be temporarily closing its doors to respite guests due to Coronavirus. It was heart breaking for many. We have the most wonderful relationship with our guests. We've built up friendships and connections which make Leuchie the special place it is, so whilst everyone was battling their own personal worries about the pandemic staff had the added worry of knowing that our amazing guests and carers would not be getting their much needed break.

The week leading up to our closure I was sat with my pal Dougie. Dougie is a regular Leuchie guest and has been coming for many years. We have got into somewhat of a routine when he visits, which I look forward to very much. He’s an early riser so tends to be up and about by the time I get into work. I go to the 9am operations meeting every morning and then I come back to my desk in the activity room, to check my emails and go through what needs to be done that day. As some might know the activity room can be a bit of a quiet haven for guests and sometimes even staff. Dougie sits on the guests PC and plays music. We have similar tastes so he goes through tracks he might have come across since his last visit, play me music I might like or just disregard me and play exactly what he wants..haha! Steve Nimmo is now a firm favourite of mine thanks to Dougie. We do this for an hour or two; both getting on with our own business, chatting now and again and he knows I’m there if he needs me to reposition the computer mouse or such like. Now that we are in week 8 of lockdown missing such moments feels more present. Colleagues will agree that there are hundreds of moments like these with Dougie that mean so much to us and that we are all missing.

We had to change and adapt very quickly after lock down. I wouldn’t be needed in the house because our usual respite service would not be in operation. We knew we wanted to reach out to as many guests as possible and as regularly as possible. Everyone who knows Leuchie of late knows that we've been championing the use of technology to help those isolated in their daily lives for some time. We know how important it can be to give people independence and this has been proven in the last 8 weeks more than ever; linking families and friends, keeping connected with the outside world, getting help and being entertained. So we put together an online engagement programme on the Leuchie Facebook page with regular weekly slots for some of our favourite things:

We know that not all of our guests are connected or are able to connect to Facebook and this brings me to my next daily task of telephoning our guests and carers. This is something that I love - a good chat! What I learn from these calls has highlighted how much Leuchie will be missed during this time. Of course our guests are understanding and are hugely proud of what Leuchie are doing, but many, just like us all, are facing lots of ups and downs. Care packages have been cut back to the bare minimum, respite completely stopped. Carers are doing what they do best without knowing when they will get their next break. Many of our guests usually go to day services, get regular physio, meet up with friends and family. Everything has stopped. It’s a massive adjustment. I know Leuchie for me provides a huge sense of togetherness which I hope is the same for guests, carers and colleagues alike. We are here to lend an ear, give a hand if we can or point you in the direction of someone who can help if we can’t and we are now putting together a postal pack to reach out to all our guests.

If you would like help with connecting online see our blog about how to connect with friends and family online.

I know we will be doing what we do best soon with a massive spring in our step and a renewed appreciation for just about everything. Until that time lets stick together and take it a step at a time.

Helen Ross
Guest Engagement Manager