We moved quickly to put measures in place to support both the staff and the 80 single homeless residents living at our service.

At Alexandra House in Croydon we moved quickly to implement the measures needed to support both our staff and the 80 single homeless residents living at our service.

Our residents here range from 18 to 65 years old and have a range of support needs. As soon as we received advice from the government around social distancing and staying safe, we sent letters to all of our homeless residents with the information they needed. We put posters up all around the service explaining the guidance and what to do.

We were also able to share information and guidance sent by our Corporate Services and Leadership Team with every service user. Most importantly, staff made sure that our homeless residents knew we were here for them to talk to if they felt anxious.

Crucially, we have remained available to all of the homeless people we support, either face to face or over the telephone. As a team, we have tried to keep the service running as normally as possible, incorporating the changes into our everyday working routine.

It has been important to try to keep spirits up within the staff team. We made sure to take time to understand how this situation was developing and what I could do as a manager to support my team and our homeless residents, whilst keeping everyone safe.

Changes in the way we work included:

  • Using new socially distanced ways of working
  • Holding meetings in the largest rooms available
  • Ensuring we had enough PPE and that staff were clear on how to use it
  • Talking regularly and openly with staff about their anxieties, either as a group or in a 121
  • Arranging time out for staff when they didn’t need to be physically in the service
  • Ensuring staff had access to reflective practice
  • Making it possible for staff to park at work to avoid public transport

Practical measures that we took included:

  • Closing the main communal area
  • Facilitating our last Breakfast Club
  • Discussing new ways to support with access to food and activities
  • Continuing to make sure the most vulnerable had enough provisions

Words by Helen Chitty, Alexandra House Team Manager

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