When a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic hits, people with neuro-physical disabilities and their families are among the worst affected. Vital services are cut back, and the day-to-day issues of isolation and loneliness are amplified because of social distancing and lockdown restrictions.
At the onset of the pandemic, our clients told us that they were highly concerned by the prospect of what lay ahead for them. In times of uncertainty, having access to services and supports is more essential than ever.
It was impossible to know what to expect at any point during the pandemic, but we knew that we had the potential to positively impact the children, adults and families who use our services during this uncertainty.
We knew we needed to support our clients as they experienced the pandemic and help them emerge from it with their health and wellbeing intact or enhanced.
We knew that our actions would have a positive impact on how children, adults, and families experience the pandemic, and would help them come through it healthy and reassured.
The crisis offered some vital lessons early on: that transformative interventions require a concerted effort; that being able to change and respond quickly is vital and critically putting clients and their families first always. Being responsive was essential to having an impact.
Below is an overview of our response to date, with the caveat that we are responding to an evolving situation and our response is changing as different situational needs arise.
In March 2020, we immediately moved our services and supports online, adapting early to Zoom.
We supported the children, adults and families who use our services in learning to use this technology and incorporate it into their daily lives.
We developed a range of resources including online and phone support services. In the beginning, these focused on keeping people connected but they evolved to support physical, social, and psychological issues remotely.
We continue to deliver all six components of our Model of Care so that children, adults, and families can continue to focus on their individual goals for better health and increased participation.
We developed a range of services designed to help children, adults and families stay active, eat well and maintain their mobility while living under lockdown measures.
– One-to-one counselling was introduced to help clients and their families manage their mental health and build resilience.
– Our Psychological supports, including Sibshops for siblings, A Moment for Me for parents and carers, play therapy and one-to-one counselling, help our clients manage anxiety and uncertainty. Their feedback has been hugely positive.
– Our Breaking Barriers Theatre Group for children and adults moved online in March 2020. The two groups have thrived in this new environment. Their Christmas performances took place online, with families and friends attending remotely – the perfect year-end boost. As the weekly groups continue, the children and adults say they greatly value the interaction, camaraderie, and growth in their confidence.
– Through Zoom and our valuable collaborations with the Indiana University School of Public Health, we have been delivering a series of relationship & sexual health programmes online. Dr. Mary Ciccarelli joins us from Indiana to deliver the programme, which has been very well received.
– One indication of how well the team has adapted was our ability to deliver support and interventions on complex issues such as continence and pressure care over Zoom and phone.
As bad as the pandemic has been, it continues to be much more difficult for children, adults and families living with neuro-physical disabilities.
We remain steadfast in our mission to innovate and grow the services that best support people with neuro-physical disabilities from now to when we can safely say we are all post-COVID-19.
In line with our values, we thought big and acted urgently this past year.
We stayed the course and will do so for the duration of the pandemic.
As the situation evolves, we are pushing harder than ever to support children, adults, and families with neuro-physical disabilities through direct engagement.
We continue to innovate our services and ensure that the technology we employ means no one is excluded.
A vital part of finding a positive post-COVID-19 way ahead is by acknowledging and honouring the courage of all those who faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with integrity for themselves, their families, and their communities.
All of us at Crann are proud to be playing our part.
“2020 was a year of challenges globally, nationally, and very specifically for the Crann Centre clients.
It is impossible to encapsulate in this note the full spectrum of difficulties that those living with neuro-physical disability faced as the covid pandemic swept across Ireland and the rest of the world.
Many of these difficulties continue today and will impact our client’s lives for some considerable time to come.
A vital part of finding a positive post covid way ahead is by acknowledging and honouring the courage of all those who faced the covid challenges with supportive integrity, for themselves their families, and their communities.
The Crann team rose to the challenge of continuing to support and serve our clients from the first onset of the new realities Covid presented to us all.
Our clients and their families continued, and in many cases deepened, their engagement with the Crann team.
This courageous interaction is an example of supportive integrity that will light the way ahead in the post covid world.”
“Counselling is something I never thought I’d need to take up but having that safe space to talk has been a welcomed addition to my life, allowing me to process all these changes and know it’s okay to open up and talk. I can only thank Crann for giving me that opportunity.”
“When I discovered the Crann Centre, and in particular the online activities, it opened a whole new world of opportunities for me”.
“Thanks for making Liz* so welcome. It was an opportunity for some of the kids to talk openly about their feelings, which was good as very often kids don’t get that chance.”
“Some of us don’t speak to anyone, and to get a call and know you’re thinking of us is amazing.”
“I didn’t think it would work this video thing… I didn’t think there would be excitement when doing it from home but it is brilliant. She absolutely loves it… and it gave me a chance to rest.”
“Crann has really done wonders for my confidence… Loving it, thank you!”
“I appreciate ye wanting to help me help myself, basically!”
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.