GAIL HOPPER: COVID-19 LEARNINGS & PREDICTIONS

I’m sure you’d agree that our weeks and months in lockdown have been a challenge.

We’ve all had our trials, but the one thing that’s common between us, is that we’ve learned. Learned how to adapt. Learned how to cope. And learned how to remain optimistic.

Some of us have had to learn quicker – our incredible key workers.

Here, we share comments from Gail Hopper, DCS Rochdale, about what she’s learned, and what she predicts for the future of Children’s Services when some kind of normality is restored.

 

THINGS I’VE LEARNED

  1. You can do so much using conference calls – why do we spend an hour and a half travelling around when you can do the business just as well doing them this way.
  2. You have to look after yourself – when you are going from virtual meeting to virtual meeting, your brain doesn’t have time to adjust and you are less physically active. So, fewer meetings and more gaps.
  3. It’s easy to forget things when people are less visible – like asking how they are; wishing them Happy Birthday; just catching up – so you need to build in those things deliberately.
  4. More children want to engage with their social workers and family support workers virtually and appear more open and people are being so creative – playing games through the windows when they visit; delivering 4000 Easter eggs so there was a different chance to connect.
  5. Children in care are reporting better quality contact with their parents – less stressful; better fun. We’ve got parents reading and recording their children bedtime stories which they weren’t doing before.

 

MY PREDICTIONS FOR THE FUTURE

  1. We’ll have a better mix in the way we work – assessments are more challenging where you are trying to build a relationship with a family but where there are established relationships then working virtually does work
  2. More structured and balanced work patterns so people actively plan to work at home more without interruptions and plan their work differently
  3. More children, particularly older children in settled foster placements will opt to continue having their reviews done virtually
  4. Changing the way we hold some CP conferences – family, conference chair and record keeper together with other people involved virtually when the risks suggest it might be better to do so.
  5. More regional sharing of materials and thinking using tools such as Basecamp so we are not reinventing the wheel all the time and we are taking some of the grind out of the roles

This situation has given us another set of tools and an environment where we are less afraid to use them