Children’s Mental Health Service Provision during COVID-19 Pandemic
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, services across CLCH have adapted in their delivery of services and Community Play Specialists from the Children’s Community Nursing Team have gone above and beyond in their provision for CLCH patients.
The service has had to adapt from a traditional patient-facing environment to embrace the virtual and digital provision of services and has done so with enormous success, continuing to put the patient at the heart of everything they do.
The team have made weekly wellbeing checks to families receiving services via BlueJeans, not just in the form of speaking to parents, but also children can speak to CLCH staff with full consent of their parents via BlueJeans.
The weekly checks were implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of keeping interaction with families who may have been isolating, or those that it was felt needed the interaction.
Play sessions have been delivered virtually on BlueJeans and continue to be done in this way while restrictions remain in place. By conducting play sessions virtually, it allows the service to interact with more users on a much more regular basis and engage with them from within their home settings.
The sessions have been delivered on an individual and group basis, where multiple parental consent has been given. It has allowed the service to celebrate birthdays of children in as normal a way as possible, alongside allowing them to hold singalongs, story sessions and even virtual parties.
With schools closed early in the pandemic and many service users having to learn from home, the team sent out weekly activity packs to service users and their siblings so they could continue their learning at home.
The packs were age appropriate to services users and their siblings, but were also adjusted depending on their academic ability to ensure a suitable level of learning could be carried out appropriately.
The team ensured that each pack had a weekly theme that was suitably adapted for each child’s ability, along with ensuring that a mindfulness session is included each week, with a different idea to help with their wellbeing incorporated into their learning pack.
The team are also in the process of implementing parent sessions via BlueJeans. The sessions will offer an opportunity for parents whose children are going through similar illnesses to speak with one another and gain valuable advice from one of the Trust’s play specialists about behaviours and strategies in helping with the wellbeing of their child.
The service has many contacts within their communities and this has given them the opportunity to direct families to different activities and services that are available to them in their locality. It can be anything from food banks to theatre and online wellbeing sessions to family exercise opportunities, the team takes great pride in helping service users who need it most.
Now that COVID-19 rules are changing, the division’s services are being utilised once again as families come out of isolation and back into a more ‘normal’ setting, which itself can be a daunting prospect, but the service has once again stepped up to the challenge.
They have provided families with day tickets to London Zoo through a strong community partnership they have with them, which includes a twice monthly opportunity to meet their favourite animals up close. This session is likely to resume in June as restrictions ease further, while the team are already planning a summer picnic and Christmas party for the patients, COVID-19 protocol and restrictions dependant.
For more information about the work of the children’s services at CLCH, visit the Patient Services section.