Over the past eleven months at Gordon Moody we have really learned how adaptable and resilient we can be both as a wider staff team and with our client group.
In this week’s blog, David Hollingsworth our manager at Beckenham residential centre, and Mandy Green our manager at Dudley residential centre, look at the ways we have changed in 11 months of adapting to COVID-19 and the lessons we have learned:
When we went into lockdown in mid-March last year our residents were given options as to what they wanted to do. Some went home and finished their treatment remotely and one chose to transfer to Dudley to complete there, something which worked well.
We took the unique opportunity of an empty house in Beckenham to do a complete refurbishment of the property. This meant that when the time came to be when we able to accept new clients into treatment (June 2020) they came into modern, spotless surroundings that enabled them to receive an instant boost that we valued them as people and wanted their time with us to be comfortable.
We employed a cleaning company to do a deep clean before we re-opened and have maintained these on a monthly basis since.
We gradually introduced new residents into Beckenham in June and monitored them with a daily temperature check. This enabled us to act quickly should a high reading appear and use the two bedrooms we kept as isolation rooms.
If a reading of 38 degrees or over was registered, then we booked the client in for a COVID-19 test at our local testing centre. We had kitted the isolation rooms out with TV, microwave, fridge etc., so it was as comfortable as was possible for the client. Staff were also able to communicate from a safe distance so one-to-one support still took place.
By autumn we had COVID-19 testing kits on site and were able to test both residents and clients and avoid relying on the temperature gun as an early warning signal.
The Sunday before Christmas turned out to be rather seismic for us all. We had a call on the out of hours emergency phone from the residents saying a couple of them had flu like symptoms.
As centre manager I went on to site and carried out COVID-19 tests with the four residents. Two tested positive. They were booked in for NHS tests the following day. I alerted the rest of the staff team and instructed them to work from home and our virtual treatment programme kicked into action.
It took some getting used to but soon the iPad became the normal form of interaction between staff and residents. All sessions took place this way; Planning Group, 1-2-1s, Support Groups and so on. Even the art psychotherapy was delivered remotely and was successful.
Because of the Track and Trace system all the residents were given their mobiles as they needed to be contacted and updated. Because the clients were all past the halfway point in treatment this worked out reasonably well, but it also highlighted why we don’t allow our service users to have their mobiles throughout the programme. Suddenly being able to have contact with family/friends on the outside meant some relationships became strained although others improved.
Food shopping was done by staff and the bill was covered by Gordon Moody; something much appreciated by the four residents. The shopping was dropped at the front door and gratefully taken in by the residents. They also enjoyed a few takeaway meals in lieu of any activities being able to take place. The on-site gym equipment also came into its own.
After a deep clean was done following four negative follows up Covid tests staff were able to return to on site work.
This year we have returned to working as two staff bubbles to reduce the number of people on site, a response to the spike in COVID-19 cases in London. This means should one bubble have a positive COVID-19 test we have the other bubble who can step straight in. Regular wiping of surfaces/handles and twice daily uses of the fogging machine mean we are keeping as safe as it’s possible to be. The residents know their role within this too and the responsibility on them to play their part.
Now, new residents coming need to have an official NHS COVID-19 test with a negative result before entering treatment. This robust system has seen two positive tests in pre-admission and has avoided COVID-19 being unwittingly brought onto site. Once a second test has been done the admission process continues.
New residents are encouraged to drive their own vehicle to Beckenham or have someone from within their own bubble drive them. If neither are possible then GMA organises train travel with a taxi provided from whichever London terminus the new resident is arriving at. This has worked seamlessly so far.
We always have a therapist and support worker on site and those staff working from home join groups via the now very familiar Microsoft Teams. Staff wear PPE equipment when on-site and use wipes for handles and surfaces as well as using a fogging machine at the start and end of a shift to make the site COVID-19 secure.
The staff team has demonstrated commitment to the cause and continues to deliver a high-quality service with excellent communication between each staff bubble ensuring nothing is missed. The return of the three-hour staff wellbeing time has been invaluable to ensure staff feel they are given something back for all their endeavours in delivering a frontline service throughout the pandemic.
Dudley Treatment Centre
We have all had to think on our feet in the past 11 months to ensure we continue to deliver the high standard of treatment we provide when working with those most affected by gambling addiction. Managers and staff at Dudley and Beckenham have learned and supported each other.
At the start of the pandemic, we had eight residents on site at Dudley, all at different stages of their treatment. We gave them all the option to return home or stay and continue with their treatment with the possibility that due to lockdown they may not be able to return home straight away.
All but one decided to stay and continue their treatment journey.
In the first lockdown we made the decision to reduce the number of staff on site to reduce the risk of infection to both residents and staff. We did this with the involvement of the residents to reassure them that this would not affect their recovery.
What we did:
- Reduced the numbers in our group work – we delivered two groups with fewer residents in each session.
- Cancelled our Saturday activities – in terms of residents being allowed out – but replaced it with videos, takeaways and board games.
- During one-to-one support sessions, we had glass screens put up in our offices and therapy rooms to enable us to still deliver the sessions.
- We had more cleaning on site including regular deep cleans in both our offices and the residents’ houses and purchased PPE equipment for residents and staff.
- When residents completed their treatment, they had the option to return home or move into our Recovery Houses.
- Used Microsoft Teams more to enable staff to work from home and had regular online all-staff meetings.
- Had regular meetings with senior managers to look at our risk assessments and constantly followed government updates.
- We took everyone’s temperature every day.
- Staff were allocated three hours a week off for their own wellbeing.
One lockdown restrictions were eased in the early summer, we then took in new residents for treatment, and there was a sense of a bit of normality returning.
However, the second lockdown came in November, followed by the third lockdown at the end of the year and each time we stepped into gear straight away updating our risk assessments and putting in place new measures.
- We purchased COVID-19 tests and tested all residents and staff weekly.
- We ensured that any new residents coming into the service had an NHS test before they travelled. For example, one resident due to travel to Dudley on Monday had tested positive for COVID-19so delayed his arrival until he tested negative.
- We ensured residents were fully informed throughout about new developments and changes to procedures.
All the residents had a really fabulous Christmas, despite lockdown, having Christmas lunch together thanks to the special efforts of a chef who was a resident having treatment.
Our teams at Dudley and Beckenham bought Christmas presents for affected others, and for the residents.
Throughout the twists and turns of the past 11 months, staff have been given the opportunity to address and air concerns in an open and transparent way to both our senior leadership team and trustees.
Staff have been supported to allow them to work from home where possible while also ensuring that we had enough staff on site to meet the needs of our clients, and staff that were advised to shield have been fully supported by Gordon Moody.
Staff have understandably been worried for their own safety and for the recovery of our clients during this time. But through the support of our senior leadership team, constant updating of our risk assessments and communication they have felt supported throughout.
Please remember we are open, we are here to help, and we are still accepting applications for residential and other treatment, whatever the twists and turns of the COVID-19 regulations.
To apply for treatment at Gordon Moody visit www.gordonmoody.org.uk or for more information call us on 01384 241292.
The National Gambling Helpline is available 24/7 call free on 0808 802 0133.