Going from face-to-face to online during Covid
Going from face to face work to online remote working with young people initially proved quite difficult and challenging, some young people didn’t like having conversations over the phone, others really didn’t want to be on zoom. Technical issues also created some frustrations for all of us. However, we made a rather quick transition. A positive aspect of this transition was that we offered flexibility to young people and parents in terms of phone or video call. Once we had ensured these approaches were safe and secure to use, things ran smoothly. Some young people opted for phone sessions while others opted for video calls. Some unexpected benefits included regular video calls and check ins which helped reach families with transportation issues and busy schedules. Generally, young people engaged really comprehensively and embraced a new way of working together.
Working with young people during Covid
What stands out the most reflecting on this past year of rolling Covid-lockdowns is young people’s abilities to adapt and their resilient nature. They all dealt with what was and still is strange and scary times in the world, yet they just got on with it. Nearly all the young people, parents, and agencies didn’t skip a beat, adjustments were made, video calls, whatsapp messages were exchanged. Although there were less hands-on projects and activities being created, the connection was just as strong and we were reminded of how amazingly adaptable we all are when we need to be.
Challenges faced/Lessons learned
We faced the challenges of offering our service in a whole new way – in the young person’s space and time – we had to reconsider how we would keep the young person safe and ensure confidentiality within the context of remote working. We learned that flexibility works and that often the young person was very comfortable working in this remote way in their own comfortable space.
Challenges also presented regarding self care for staff, as they were in their home space and due to greater flexibility and concern for the young person, they made themselves more available. Other challenges presented by way of technical difficulties, poor wifi connections resulted in a lot of follow up calls and re-connections. This had further implications for other planned appointments that had to be shifted or deferred.
Issues that have arisen during Covid
Administrative issues regarding file management and the lack of utilising worksheets with clients initially proved difficult but with admin support this issue was resolved. Some staff voiced their frustrations having to work from home, others welcomed the flexibility allowed.
Parents reported experiencing extreme stress and frustration around their children attending school classes online, managing new technologies, having PC’s, laptops etc for each child, logging on issues, privacy for each child and then the dreaded homework on top of all of that causing even more stress to parents and the children. Parents feeling confined to home and having to spend so much more time together, maybe even in cramped conditions, having to home school their children has to be the number one additional stress parents reported during covid. This has caused untold damage regarding parents’ own mental health and well being.
There has been an increase in parents seeking support and help for their adolescent but also parents needing extra support for themselves in dealing with the fall out of Covid restrictions and regulations.
Going forward in 2021
Undoubtedly we will face further challenges for the rest of 2021. We still live in levels of uncertainty regarding Covid-19. With this in mind, Halo will continue to offer the best possible quality service to young people and their families in the best way possible. A resumption of face to face work, with all the necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and high levels of hygiene, will ensure this is maintained and sustained.