This year, we asked you to share your stories of how disabled people have been involved, included and helped create a kinder world in 2020.
“I would love to share my story, I have myalgic encephalitis also know as chronic fatigue which as the name states is a hidden disability that affects your energy levels.
The condition, has other associated symptoms which may affect day to day life such as dizziness, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, flu like symptoms and causes problems thinking, remembering, and concentrating.
I am an Adult Social worker at Lambeth Council. I work with Lambeth residents who have a diagnosed learning disability to assess care and support needs under the Care Act 2014 and implement identified social care packages to meet assessed care and support needs. I love the type of work which I do, as I enjoy working with people with learning disabilities.
Social work is about human beings and being around people to empower them to manage their circumstance and also, to engage in society. So, a lot of the work that I do involves direct work with service users and this is the best part of my job. However, since covid-19 this has changed the way in which we work with our service users and a lot of the work we do is now virtual and over the phone.
A move away from face to face interactions, home visit and office appointments is now the new normal and to support this way of working Lambeth has provided staff with access to Microsoft Teams to facilitate virtual meetings with our service users, colleagues and stake holder and partners that work closely with the council.
I have found video meetings add a human aspect to the interaction and for me being able to put a face to the person whom I am conducting an important assessments for is important. Many of our service users are mainly non-verbal in their communication style and so, it is necessary to have this option in place to ensure that their communication needs are appropriately met.
Lambeth has training and ICT support available to utilise the new software package which I have accessed for 1 to 1 support to build my confidence with understanding the features and options available to enhance virtual meetings.
Although, I miss direct work with service users I have to remind myself that this is now the new way of working for the foreseeable future.
The approach to smart working taken by the organisation which I work for accommodates service users with communication needs to ensure that the level and quality of service I provide to the community remains unaffected during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.” – Shakera Bowen