100 Days of Lockdown – Purple Team Experiences

Rachel Lees – Senior Neuro Occupational Therapist. The biggest part of my role has been supporting the impact lockdown has had on client’s mood/mental health due to lack of structure/routine, being unable to engage in their normal meaningful activities, unable to attend social opportunities, anxiety and the fear of the unknown. As a result of this, I have had to provide additional support to clients and their families, and support teams in managing dips in motivation and mood. I have also found that I have needed to be more flexible to meet clients needs and this has included providing support at different times i.e. A Sunday evening to complete whiteboard planning for the week ahead.

The lock down situation everyone experienced took away our occupations, our roles and our social identities. An occupation is not just a job it is everything we do i.e. Going shopping, getting a coffee with a friend, going to the gym etc. It all changed just like it would if we had an illness or disability. Those everyday simple tasks that we took for granted we weren’t able to do which helped me empathise with my clients more.

My role is helping people to be able to complete their occupations, gain a sense of self and look at the impact an illness or disability has on this and their roles in life. Each and every person experienced occupational deprivation due to COVID-19 and we were all striving to focus on meaningful occupations, exercise and self-care activities to keep us sane. This time has highlighted the fundamental underpinnings of OT and made me love my job even more (if that is possible!).

I have had to think creatively to facilitate safe activities to boost mood, minimise decline in mental health and avoid hospital admission whilst safely following government guidance. This has included looking at outdoor activities such as gardening, walking, sports, mindfulness etc.

In the beginning one strategy I used with a client was sending a daily positive quote to try and motivate them. I also set up a daily challenge in which one member of the MDT set the client a specific meaningful topic to read up on/film to review/questions to answer which encouraged the client to keep their brain active.

There are pros and cons to remote working. One of the big pros is that I have been able to do some really positive joint sessions with SLT (using skype) where we could discreetly observe the client engaging in an activity without the distraction of actually being in the room.

Jake Butler – Neuro Therapy Assistant. I was pretty anxious at the start of lockdown, not being able to get out and do anything. However, over time I came round to the fact everyone was in the same boat Zoom quiz nights and catch ups with friends, phone calls and in recent weeks face to face sessions with fellow Neural Pathways colleagues helped to bring some normality back.

During lockdown my working week changed dramatically from seeing anywhere from 3-5 people a day to 0 on some days. Once people started coming around from the shock of it all, I then started carrying out remote therapy sessions over Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom.

This was quite a change from the usual hands on sessions, meaning the way we carried out exercises also had to adapt. Luckily, all the clients I have worked with have such loving families around them who jumped at the chance to get more hands on, during remote sessions, this allowed clients to still progress towards their set goals just with a little tweak to how they got there.

Now four months on, stuff seems to be getting back to where they were, face to face sessions have become a weekly thing with the inclusion of PPE to keep all parties safe throughout.

Neural Pathways Support

Both Rachel and Jake benefitted from the robust COVID-19 strategy that Neural Pathways implemented. All clients were subject to Pre-Treatment Symptom Screening Checklist Risk Assessment before any treatment was delivered face to face. Also, this process was vetted and agreed by all stakeholders involved with the client i.e. Case Managers/Solicitors/Family Members/Care Teams – only with these agreements in place, and with a completed risk assessment carried out, would the green light be given to start face to face treatment.

This process gave all of the Neural Pathways Therapy Team the confidence to deliver much needed neuro rehabilitation to their clients. For further information on the work of Neural Pathways – please visit www.neural-pathways.com or email info@neural-pathways.co.uk Tel: 0333 0069015.