Life during lockdown at St John's

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“It is so refreshing to reflect that one of the best things to come out of the COVID-19 crisis is a renewed strengthening of connection and community. Standing on the kerb outside my house at 8pm every Thursday, the burst of sound from applause and pots clanging in support of our amazing NHS, care and other essential workers brings a lump to my throat. It creates a powerful sense of solidarity from households all around, but which are otherwise living in isolation from each other and provides a reminder that we are standing together to get through the challenges of the current crisis.

Sometimes the acts of kindness may seem small and, yet, make an overwhelming difference to the recipient who is reminded they are appreciated and not forgotten.”

David Hobdey, Chief Executive Officer

To support our residents during this challenging and potentially isolating time, staff at St John’s have been going the extra mile to make sure that our residents have access to everything they need, such as medicines and food and that no-one feels isolated or lonely.

In addition to our Independent Living Service operating its usual 24-hour care system (in line with government guidance on PPE and social distancing), members of the wider workforce have also been offering their time to volunteer for our residents:

We now have a group of staff who are making regular food-shopping trips, armed with residents’ lists and collecting prescriptions.

Community Outreach Manager, Ricky Bush, returning with a resident’s shopping

We have also introduced a befriending service, where staff make daily phone calls to residents who have opted to receive them. Self-isolating shouldn’t mean that you have to feel isolated and, given many of our residents do live alone, the daily phone calls provide a conversation, where they may have had no other interaction that day.

We are all feeling extremely fortunate to be able to offer this kind of support for our resident, and their gratitude shines through.

One of our residents is, sadly, suffering from Motor Neuron Disease and, due to his condition, is left unable to speak. Cindy, our Team Leader for the Independent Living Service, and other members of our service, have been visiting him regularly during this difficult time to ensure that he is ok.

On one of Cindy’s frequent visits; she asked whether she could do anything for him and he put his thumbs up to indicate that he was ok and didn’t need anything.

Cindy began to walk away, and the resident stood at his door and started clapping loudly for her, a non-verbal sign of his in appreciation for her kindness and hard work.

Chapel Court residents standing out to thank NHS & St John’s staff

Care and support can come in many different forms; like so many others during this difficult time, our residents are missing the positivity that comes from engaging with social groups, taking part in our Community Outreach Activities and accessing local community services.

Whist we have put measures in place to ensure our residents remain well, active and busy whilst isolating at home, we also felt it was important that they should have the opportunity to enjoy their traditional Easter Sunday Service, even if not at The Chapel of St Michael’s Within.

Many of you will have seen, ‘The Portobello Priest’ (Pat Allerton) trending online for offering portable Church Services in London. Our very own Chaplain, Jacky Wise, decided to follow in his footsteps and bring some joy to our almshouse residents by performing an Easter Sunday Service within the grounds of our two sites at Combe Park and Chapel Court.

Reverend Jacky Wise performing an Easter Sunday Service at Combe Park

View the short video on our website, here.

As you can see, the residents very much enjoyed taking part and having a sing-along.