There with you: How to help vulnerable adults during the Covid-19 crisis

Cintre organised a bracing walk for its service users last year.

Cintre organised a bracing walk for its service users last year. - Credit: Archant

Advice on helping people with complex mental health needs through lockdown has ‘been notably absent’ from Government information, according to a Weston charity.

Cintre organised a bracing walk for its service users last year.

Cintre organised a bracing walk for its service users last year. - Credit: Archant

Cintre, which runs residential homes in Weston, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, offers one-to-one support for vulnerable adults to enable them to live independent and fulfilled lives. Since January they have also been running Weston’s Earlfield Lodge residential home for older people and people with dementia.

Cintre CEO Dr Claire Mould, said: “In this current fast-evolving situation, many people are feeling anxious and uncertain about their finances, family and friends, and what they should or shouldn’t be doing. We’re all having to adapt the way we live and work.

“The health measures we all have to take during the Covid-19 outbreak are more acute for the vulnerable adults who Cintre works with, as they are more susceptible to diseases than the general population.

“However, this group has been notably absent in terms of mention by the government in terms of the special measures and advice they are putting in place for the over 70s, pregnant women and people with pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular. 

“We are balancing physical health concerns against the dangers that social isolation and change to routine can cause our users, which can be extremely upsetting and confusing.”

Cintre has devised some tips for those who have a friend, family or community member who suffers from dementia, mental health concerns, autism or other non-visible illnesses:

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Continuity – if you used to visit someone in person every Monday, keep Monday as the day that you contact them. Keeping to a routine where possible helps ease stress. You may also have to help people build a new routine – perhaps allocate one major activity per day and suggest they put it on a timetable. So, Tuesday could become spaghetti night (home cooked, of course!) and Wednesday cleaning night, etc.

Interest - being unable to attend social groups or even go shopping can lead to boredom, social isolation and anxiety. Keeping the mind busy and distracted from the barrage of bad news stories can help. Can you play an online game together, send a puzzle or board game through the post, or do some painting?

Nutrition – keeping the immune system boosted through a healthy diet will help fight disease. Can you share a new recipe or drop off a box of fruit?

Technology – smart phones and computers provide a great opportunity to use video calling to keep in touch. For people who don’t get on with technology, old fashioned voice calls will make a huge difference.

Ramping up – when routines are disrupted and we’re restricted in what we can do, time moves slower. Can you ramp up the number of times you get in touch per week, or shake it up by sending a letter or email, or some photos to keep in contact? Are there friends or family who are normally in touch sporadically who could be persuaded to get more involved?

Exercise – as well as keeping the body fit, we know that exercise has amazing effects on our mind too. Can you encourage your friend or family member to work out to an online video, do some simple stretches, do a few star jumps or to get into the garden for a bit of weeding and vitamin D?

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