A story by C.O.J.A.C. Centre
C.O.J.A.C. provided social, recreational and leisure group activities for adults affected by disability. The project supports two groups of adults with an evening activity every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm until 9pm including escorted mini bus transport from home and return.
What SociallyAble did
We provided a range of activities and trips from our centre in Castlemilk, Glasgow for adults from 18 years affected by disability. The project operates every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm until 9pm. Adults are collected from home by mini bus and COJAC staff provide the bus escort. This ensures that carers can maximise their respite without worrying about drop off or collection and that the service is accessible to those without access to their own transport.
We provided a drama and sports tutor for one hour each evening that provided the adults with opportunities to try out new sports and increase their confidence, with trips out out to a pool club where they were able to have a drink and play a game of pool/snooker, ten pin bowling and trips to local parks for walks. We held a family Halloween party in the centre, for all our families, carers and service users.
They enjoyed fireworks night going up to Cathkin Braes to get a fantastic view over Glasgow. During December 2019 they went to a pantomime, visited George Square lights and had a Christmas disco at a local venue with a two course meal. At end of March 2020, due to COVID 19, we unfortunately had to close.
The centre remained open delivering critical childcare for children with complex needs and those of key workers. However, we continued to remain in touch with our adults. We did this through securing additional funding to provide health and wellbeing packs delivered to their door. This allowed staff to see our adults face to face (albeit at a physical distance), catch up and see how they were.
The packs provided arts and crafts, toiletries, puzzles, games, and some sweet treats. Staff continued this support once every 4 weeks during the first lockdown ensuring that we remained in contact with our adults and their carers with a physical door to door visit. We recognised that not all them were confident or able to participate in online sessions at this stage, and that a face to face visit would be more appreciated. We reopened our adult service in August 2020, along with Scottish Government guidance for building based adult services and in line with Public Health and Care Inspectorate guidance.
What C.O.J.A.C. Centre has learned
We utilised two tutors, one that delivered sporting activities, such as basketball and badminton.This encouraged the adults to try new sports in a safe space, that increased their confidence and their physical and mental health. A drama tutor provided a range of activities that increased their confidence.
Adults had a choice whether they wanted to join in any of the tutored activities. If they did not want to participate, staff were available to provide alternative activities. From October 2019 until March 2020, the group enjoyed a range of activities within and outwith the centre.
This included a family Halloween party in the centre, a trip to a panto in town, a trip to George Square to see the lights and Christmas markets, fireworks night, visit to a snooker/pool hall and country park walks.
During the first lockdown in March 2020, we secured additional funds to provide health and wellbeing bags to all our families every four weeks. We worked in partnership with Glasgow Community Transport who provided free transport as we went around door to door covering both Glasgow and South Lanarkshire. This was vital for enabling staff to properly check in with our families to see how they were getting on.
We realised that the majority of our service users and their families are not able, competent or confident in utilising IT or other software., so this was the best way to keep in touch.
We reopened in September 2020 following guidance from Scottish Government and with support from Shared Care Scotland Network Manager's Forum. This online manager’s group was really helpful in giving managers a safe place to share concerns and worries and offered us a direct link via Don Williamson to Scottish Government officers.
As we remained open delivering critical childcare for children with complex needs, we did not utilise the furlough scheme, moving staff hours from adult services to our children's service. The lockdown and delivery of any service was fraught with many changes and stress. However, we got through it safely and were able to resume our face to face adult service in September with additional procedures and processes in place, including additional mini buses to enable physical distancing on pickups and return home, bringing in additional cleaning hours between delivery of our adult service from our children's service, only permitting one person in toilet at any one time, physical distancing and mask wearing in the centre and ensuring no sharing of resources (unless cleaned thoroughly between uses) and other measures to ensure both staff and adult service user safety.
Only two families did not return at this time as they wanted to remain shielding. Re opening of the service also meant increased costs in relation to administration and dealing with new procedures and processes, cleaning, reporting to Care Inspectorate and Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership and increased meetings with staff. What has become clear is the lack of adult services resuming and some are still only providing 'life and limb' or emergency services. This will have a long term impact on many families and there is also the worry that many will not ever resume.
How C.O.J.A.C. Centre has benefitted from the funding
The funding and our links with the Manager's network supported us as an organisation to deliver a twice weekly adult evening group service with door to door transport, from October 2019 until March 2020, and to resume and sustain our service from September 2020 until December 2020. The funding also allowed us to gain additional funds to provide health and wellbeing bags out to our service users and their families during the first lockdown from March 2020. Glasgow Community Transport were extremely helpful in providing free transport to go around both Glasgow and South Lanarkshire door to door with these bags every four weeks. In terms of skills, we have worked through a pandemic and still managed to deliver a face to face service safely, efficiently and without any incidents. This has been a challenging year and yet, we have come through this, even considering that most local authority adult building based services have still not resumed. This shows the resilience and ability of the voluntary sector to adapt quickly to unprecedented and challenging circumstances.
38 carers will have one evening a week to relax or participate in a hobby of their choice or other activity. 29 cared for disabled adults will be out with their peers one evening per week for 50 weeks. 38 carers will have one evening, 50 weeks of year to have a break.
From October 2019 until end of March 2020, our adults enjoyed a range of activities with pick up from home and return. This ensured that carers were not stressed or had to deal with drop off or collection. Carers were supported with a reliable, quality service that meant they knew they could enjoy their break without worry as staff are skilled, qualified and experienced. Carers benefitted from knowing that they could undertake a regular weekly activity, for example, peace to watch TV, or meet with others socially for walks or read a book. One sibling carer uses the time to go to meet a friend at the gym, then a sauna followed by a pint as he knows he does not need to drive to pick up his sister. Services resumed in August 2020, with support and advice from Care Inspectorate, Public Health Scotland and Shared Care Scotland Manager’s Network. Only 2 adults did not return at this time as their carers wanted to remain shielding as Glasgow was still in high tier restrictions.
W is an adult in his 40s who has attends COJAC and has very little speech and has other health issues. W lives on his own with no living relatives; he has support at home through carers and the goodwill of neighbours, but has no other social life or life outside the home apart from COJAC. W recently had a fall which resulted in a hospital stay with a broken leg. When he returned home, he had no visitors aside from paid carers due to COVID 19. This was minimum i.e. ‘life and limb.’ This led to W becoming more withdrawn and his mental health deteriorated. When his cast came off, he was able to go out for short periods, yet was reluctant to do so. We had kept in touch with W throughout the first lockdown, dropping off health and wellbeing bags and speaking to his carer. We asked about returning to the centre, but he was reluctant to do so. However, the regular bag drop offs and the continued communication from staff and with his carer, W agreed to return to the service. His return to the centre was the only time he had ventured out aside from any required hospital/health appointments. His carers have noted a huge change in his mood, his enthusiasm when coming to the service and how he would stand outside the house waiting on the mini bus to pick him up.
38 carers will be supported through the provision of a quality reliable service for their adult child. They will know that they can enjoy their break without worry or stress as their disabled adult child is being cared for by qualified and experienced staff.
Provided a social evening group every Tuesday and Thursday from October 2019 until March 2020 and then from August 2020 until December 2020 for 29 disabled adults. Provided an evening break for carers once a week assured that their adult child is participating in their own social and recreational activities, thus reducing their isolation and allowing the carer time to themselves. During 2019, adults enjoyed movies, barbecue, Chinese, and Pizza nights, karaoke, firework night, Halloween party, quizzes, baking, arts and crafts, bingo, sports hall activities and computer games. They also took trips out to George Square for the Christmas lights, enjoyed a pantomime and had a Christmas disco with 2 course meal in a local entertainment venue. From January to March 2020, we employed drama and sports tutors to promote mental and physical health and wellbeing. From August to December, drama and sport tutors continued, then had to stop with activities restricted to the centre.
S is an adult male in his 30s who stays at home with his mum, a widow. S has Fragile X and Epilepsy and is very shy, tends to focus on only one subject and finds it very hard to be sociable and make new friends. Mum was finding it hard being at home and feeling isolated with very little other support during the first lockdown. COJAC, had kept in touch during lockdown, dropping off health and wellbeing bags and speaking to mum at the door (physically distanced). When we resumed our service, S was delighted to see his friends at the centre and have some banter around the football, but also take part in group activities. Mum has said that the difference is amazing as S, now has his some of his former routine back and she is able to get much needed respite.
29 disabled adults will be participating, organising activities & excursions within and outwith the centre. They will be less likely to feel socially isolated and ensures that they are able to build and maintain new connections. 38 carers will have a break one evening per week.
We provided adult evening groups twice a week from October 2019 until March 2020. Due to restrictions around COVID 19 we closed our adult evening service. However, we resumed in September 2020 until December 2020 following guidance and support from Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and Shared Care Scotland. Parents and carers were delighted when the service resumed in September after the lockdown, as the majority of them had no provision or respite since March 2020. Only two did not return in September due to wanting to continue to shield. Due to restrictions on the mini buses, we had to double our transport to enable physical distancing on board. The door to door transport is a vital part of our service as it provides parent/carers with no additional stress of dropping off or picking up in the evening. In particular, it supports those parents/carers who may not drive and the reduced public transport available in the evenings.
S, M, and N are triplets in their late 30s. All three have Global Development Delay and live at home with mum, a lone parent. The situation at home is extremely challenging, as mum has poor health and the triplets are continuously arguing at home. COJAC, again has been the only contact the family have had during the first lockdown. We continued to communicate with mum and drop of care and wellbeing bags. These included family activities that we hoped would help ease the tensions of the restrictions. Mum was delighted when COJAC resumed our service and so were the triplets as they have had absolutely no input from any other service since March 2020, and this was now September 2020. Staff in discussion with mum and the triplets agreed that it would be good for them to have time away from each other in the centre. Activities could then be tailored to individual need. We were able to do this as the centre has enough rooms and staff in place to allow this to happen. For example, one would be in the sports hall, another in the arts and crafts room and one in the games consul room. This has been a great success for both the siblings and mum as mum was really feeling the strain of dealing with the at home arguments coupled with her poor health.