A blog from Karen, Care Coordinator in our Shared Lives Oldham team…

---

This week (w/c June 15th 2020) is both Shared Lives Week and Learning Disability Week.

As a Care Coordinator in the MioCare Group's Shared Lives team I feel a connection with both of those events!

With the theme of Learning Disability Week being 'the importance of friendships during lockdown', I wanted to write a blog about how - as a service and community - we've kept connection and friendship at the forefront of our minds during the recent months.

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected us all and although some restrictions have recently been lifted, we're all still living with lockdown. Many people with a learning disability continue to feel isolated, as they are unable to see their friends and families.

At Shared Lives, we want to show the importance of friendship in helping deal with isolation and explore the different ways of maintaining key connections during a potentially difficult time.

Throughout the pandemic, our carers have supported the individuals they care for to pursue new activities within the home and also to build on some of the skills that they'd already developed.

These have included hobbies like cooking, baking, gardening and DIY. Lockdown has meant more time together in the household and as the pace of life has slowed down, people have had the opportunity to really get to know each other better. In many cases, their friendships have become even closer than they were before.

And again, with the support of their carers, Maria, Malcolm, Graham and many of our other Shared Lives service users have been able to maintain contact with the friends they've got in the community. Friends, who before Coronavirus came along, they would sometimes see multiple times a week!

They've used Facebook and other social media to keep in touch and have successfully taken part in online quizzes, bingo sessions and even karaoke (we have some keen singers in the Shared Lives Oldham family!).

Carers have made sure that weekly plans now include regular telephone or video calls to family members and key people in service users' networks, so that no one feels lonely or secluded. The support to use technology has helped to manage isolation from family and friends and has been successful in maintaining crucial relationships and a sense of community and belonging.

More recently, according to guidelines and where safe to do so, carers have started to support individuals to plan and meet up with family members whilst ensuring that everyone is staying safe and following social distancing rules.

The scheme (and indeed the MioCare Group through it's other services too) is about supporting people to get the most out of life.

Shared Lives continues to live by that mission across our town and we're proud of the way families in Oldham have supported each other (and continue to support each other!) through the current crisis.

#MadeInOldham