The social enterprises Sirona in the south-west of England, LEYF in London and the nursing homes and nursery schools of Suara from Barcelona exchanged innovative proposals to respond to pandemic times.
A meeting between providers of care services for people in England and Suara cooperative has facilitated a sharing of experiences lived during the first lockdown. All the projects agreed that moments of crisis can be a catalyst for innovative and disruptive proposals that respond to what is happening and open up new opportunities. From the different territorial realities and sectors of attention (nursery schools, nursing homes and home care services), they agree on 3 measures that at different levels have allowed them to offer quality care, discovering new areas of impact: the incorporation of technology into services, more personalized attention and support and training for professionals and services
One of the experiences presented was that of Sirona. a social enterprise that offers resources and support for dependency care services, from residences to home care. It was founded by the National Health Service (NHS) and local authorities in the areas of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire in the south-west of England, which facilitates joint support from the health and social spheres to services, without the political limitations that usually occur.
To deal with the pandemic, Sirona created a free care team around care services, available 24 hours a day all year round and multidisciplinary (consisting of professionals in nursing, medicine, social work, etc.), with the aim of offering support and accompaniment to all the services of the zones by telephone. In addition, they offer support with telematic resources: constant telephone contacts, a library of virtual resources (guides and videos with tips and health information), digital records with health and social information accessible by health services, training and support in prevention by professionals, and a rapid reaction to an outbreak of COVID-19, with support to access tests or to activate prevention actions.
The other organization that shared its experience was LEYF, a charitable social enterprise that manages 39 nursery schools in London. During the lockdown it opened 15 nursery hubs for, vulnerable children and children from key workers professions). This enabled those families to work throughout lockdown knowing their children were being safely cared for in safe place, with staff they trusted. They were also committed to ensuring learning at home for children who did not attend nursery school through video calls with families, zoom playdates, weekly telephone calls and a weekly schedule of activities. Videos made by staff were viewed more than 100,000 times. When they returned to nursery school - after the spring lockdown - they sent families a small book and online book to prepare children for the changes that would take place in nursery schools, reducing anxiety and fear.
As for SUARA, all its services receive up-to-date support in relation to the pandemic and the regulations that affect them, with contingency plans and access to a web portal with information, videos and advice. The nursery schools in Suara, which closed all spring, also opted to share an activity or proposal with families every day, from songs to crafts. Personalized communication with families was constant in lockdown with video calls, writing or calls, as well as with an online program that allowed direct contact between families and teachers. In the old people's homes in Suara, contact with families has also been guaranteed and is guaranteed, both with calls and video calls with the people being cared for, as well as with the use of an app, which allows the exchange of information between professionals and families, ensuring data security. In addition, all services provide guides and pedagogical resources to families, as well as information on services and resources in case they need them at any time.
All three organisations, Suara and Sirona and LEYF, highlighted the training and support that professionals have received during the pandemic, offering self-care tools and enhancing their professional development. LEYF uses an online training platform for professionals, called MY LEYF, which, in addition to offering training, allows knowledge to be shared. Logins increased from pre lockdown average of 4500 to 27,000 weekly views. In the case of Suara, emotional support services such as Suara at home or the Regenera program (which accompanies professionals in the aftermath of the pandemic) are also offered.
The incorporation of technology is a cross-cutting phenomenon in all experiences. As innovative elements, we find that Suara nursery schools offer virtual tours of the spaces to teach and explain the service. From Sirona they propose an app, AccuRx, for telematic consultations of the services they advise. Suara’s residences use Alexa, a voice assistant that allows caregivers to decide when to call the family with a voice command, as well as set reminders, put on music, and more.
All these experiences show how, in times of crisis and challenge, different ideas emerge that respond to the situation and propose new dynamics and strategies that generate opportunities for services. Some will stay in the future, whatever it is; others will evolve and transform, into a constant update to respond to the fickle and changing reality that surrounds us. From all this, we will extract and extract learnings and knowledge that enrich our services. Having the opportunity to share these experiences between different European entities, in this case in England and Catalonia allows us to enhance the quality of the care we offer, always having at the centre the person we serve, the core and reason for our activity.