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Coronavirus Pandemic Weekly Briefs

Thursday 4th June 2020

Briefing number 13 (unlucky for some – more on that later!) sees NI move to the next stage of the Executives Recovery Plan. As well as being able to go to garden and recycling centres, we can now also take part in certain outdoor activities, such as tennis, golf, and angling, and meet in groups of up to six people outdoors. Of course, progress will depend on controlling the rate of transmission of the virus – something in which we all have a part to play. At Brooke House we are starting to explore how we may open more for our staff and our clients safely and slowly, in a way that is fully compliant with the social distancing guidelines.

Volunteers Week

This week (1st to 7th June) is also Volunteers Week – a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. As well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers’ wellbeing, gain valuable new skills and experiences, and boost confidence. We’d like to take this opportunity to give our thanks to the volunteers who help to make the Colebrooke Garden as productive and beautiful as it is.

So, back to number 13 – lucky or unlucky? There is no scientific evidence to suggest that any number is inherently lucky or unlucky, but many people believe that 13 is unlucky. There is even a term for the specific fear of the number 13 – triskaidekaphobia. And it’s a fear believed to be rooted in ancient times. The Norse god Baldur, who stood for beauty and good in the world was murdered by Loki, the 13th guest at a dinner honouring Baldur’s memory. But maybe our view on the number 13 could be coloured by our level of optimism?

 

Optimism

Psychologists report that most of the population is largely optimistic. Research has shown that higher levels of optimism are associated with better mental health, more effective pain management, improved immune and cardiovascular function, and greater physical functioning overall. It is also associated with better health outcomes after physical illness as well as increased life expectancy. It has even been shown to be connected to increased success in sports and work. Optimism is designed to give us the energy, enthusiasm, determination, and positive attitude to move forward in our lives. It helps us to appreciate the glass as half-full. Optimists tend to apply better coping strategies when faced with adversity and look for meaning in that adversity, which can make them more resilient. The good news is that, while optimism may be part of our character, it can also be learned.

A simple visualisation exercise can boost our optimism – it’s called the “best possible self” visualisation. See this YouTube video for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNbaR54Gpj4

Take 10 minutes or more out of your day and imagine yourself in a future, say 5 years from now, that has turned out to be the rosiest that is possible (but also realistic). In this future, you have achieved all the things that you wanted to, whether that’s being at the height of your dream career, living with the love of your life, being in peak physical shape, having a small circle of close and supportive  friends, etc. You get the picture. Visualise what such a future will be like and feel like to you in as much detail as possible (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_jEsnDEIa0). The more vividly your imagination can conjure up your best possible self, the more successful this exercise is. Even if you perform the best possible self exercise just once, your optimism will get a temporary boost. And if you perform it repeatedly, say every night, or a few times a week, there will be a persistent spike in your optimism. What is more, your mood will also improve, and you will feel happier.

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Online workshops

Last week we included a link to express interest in our Armed Forces Covenant grant funded online workshops allowing us to deliver existing and new material to support the health and wellbeing of our clients in a different way. We hope to offer online workshops in Nutrition, Gardening, Wellness and Horticultural Therapy. So far we have had a great response! There’s still time to register your interest using the following link: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

Garden Blog

We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog which is now support on its own site https://blog.brookehouse.co.uk/

Here you can see all our previous posts, as well as new posts every week! This week we are sharing with you planting out brassicas and how the new market garden is developing.

It is our hope to make the blog site interactive so you can comment and ask questions and share your own thoughts. Watch this space.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 29th May 2020

Briefing number 12 comes on the end of a very sunny week in lockdown. The NI Executive has published a phased five-stage coronavirus recovery plan (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/OUR_APPROACH_DOCUMENT_SUMMARY_12-05-2020.pdf) and as we move towards Stage one we have seen gardening centres and recycling centres start to re-open.

This week we are talking about your whole wellbeing and resilience. But first, some good news, Brooke House has been successful in obtaining grant funding from the Armed Forces Covenant to deliver online workshops during the Coronavirus Pandemic. This will allow us to deliver existing and new material to support the health and wellbeing of you, our clients, in a different way. If you would be interested in attending our online workshops, please register your interest using the following link: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

The 5 ways to wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/) are the foundations for resilience. The walls and the roof of our resilience ‘house’ are constructed from additional skills/behaviours. In briefing number 11 we covered ‘building and maintaining high quality connections’ – this week we’re talking about having meaning and purpose.

As humans we need to find purpose in what we do. Imagine being on holiday (one day soon!), relaxing with your favourite food and drink to hand, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, listening to the waves breaking gently on the beach – you’re feeling pretty good right? How good would it feel after being sat there all day? Maybe still good. What about after a week, a month, or a year? As much as we might hate to admit it, this same pleasurable situation will gradually become less enjoyable over time and not have nearly the same effect on us as it did at the beginning. So, what’s missing? Purpose – beyond feeling good, we need to find purpose in what we do.

Resilient people have a strong sense of purpose – they know what they are doing and why. And here’s the science bit – having a sense of purpose in life has been shown to improve overall wellbeing and life satisfaction, to be good for our health and even to reduce the risk of death. What’s not to like?

We have been advised of an opportunity to help make a difference in the current situation that some of you may be interested in. PT Security Services Ltd (https://pt-ss.com/about-us) has been awarded the contract to establish and staff the Covid-19 Mobile Testing Centre in Belfast. There is a requirement for 20 members of staff to begin training immediately at the SSE Arena, Belfast. The email address for those interested in applying is info@pt-ss.com.

We all want to be part of something bigger. As an organisation we at Brooke House are looking to refresh our values and we’d be interested in hearing what you see as core to our way of doing things. Get in touch at info@brookehouse.co.uk with any ideas and please express an interest in our upcoming online workshops: https://forms.gle/kzrH16VoHGrryYfh6

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Garden Blog

We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog which is now support on its own site https://blog.brookehouse.co.uk/

Here you can see all our previous posts, as well as new posts every week! This week we are sharing with you how to support your runner beans using hazel rods, an update from the garden and sheep shearing, no lockdown haircuts here!

It is our hope to make the blog site interactive so you can comment and ask questions and share your own thoughts. Watch this space.

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 22nd May 2020

Briefing number 11 comes towards the end of Mental Health Awareness week the theme of which is ‘kindness’.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Studies have found that people who carry out acts of kindness experience greater wellbeing, increased feelings of happiness, and improved life satisfaction. It does not seem to matter whether we show kindness to our friends and family, our communities or even ourselves – the effect is the same. Not only that but, just reflecting on and remembering kind things we have done in the past may also increase our wellbeing. ‘Give’ is one of the 5 ways to wellbeing that we have covered before in our previous briefings.

“Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give”

The 5 ways to wellbeing are the foundations for resilience.

“Resilience enables us to function effectively, deal with the ups and downs of everyday life, adapt to change, bounce back from adversity and even grow as a result”.

Some researchers have termed resilience ‘ordinary magic’ because we all have it to varying degrees and we can all learn to strengthen it over time. Have a look at this video – the power of resilience with Dr Sam Goldstein, Neuropsychologist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isfw8JJ-eWM

One of the other important building blocks of resilience is developing and maintaining high quality connections (‘Connect’). Now that in NI we are permitted to be outside at a social distance with up to 6 people, we have an increased opportunity to enhance those connections. Resilient people are resourceful, and friends and family are among their most important resources. Resilient people have strong social networks, close connections to family and friends, can self-disclose about their troubles to people close to them, and ask for help when they need it

We all need to actively build and maintain our own resilience; act early on any warning signs that our resilience is under strain; and, mobilise support when our resilience is threatened. The Action for Happiness ‘10 days of Happiness’ online coaching programme will help: https://10daysofhappiness.org/

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

Garden Blog

The Garden Blog has moved to it’s new site: https://blog.brookehouse.co.uk/

Here you can see all our previous posts, as well as new posts every week! This week we are sharing with you how to grow the best carrots, an update from the garden and information about the Sika Deer who call Colebrooke Park home.

It is our hope to make the blog site interactive so you can comment and ask questions and share your own thoughts. Watch this space.

The ‘office’ will be closed for the public holiday on Monday 25th May. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk . In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 15th May 2020

Briefing number 10 sees a furthering of the lockdown in NI. We, along with Scotland and Wales, are diverging slightly from the position in England where some easing has commenced. The NI Executive has published a phased five-stage coronavirus recovery plan (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/OUR_APPROACH_DOCUMENT_SUMMARY_12-05-2020.pdf).

The document sets out the approach the Executive will take when deciding how to ease coronavirus restrictions in the future. There are however no fixed dates for when any single restriction will be lifted leaving us all feeling a little uncertain.

Uncertainty

As human beings, we seek security. We all want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives and well-being. Research shows that fear and uncertainty can leave us feeling stressed and anxious. It can drain us emotionally and trap us in a downward spiral of negativity. But it doesn’t have to be like that – there are steps we can all take to better deal with the impact of uncontrollable circumstances and manage our anxiety.

Uncertainty is often centred on worries about the future and all the bad things we anticipate happening. It can make things feel worse than they are and even paralyse us from taking action to overcome a problem.

Worrying won’t give us more control over uncontrollable events – it just takes away our enjoyment in the present, drains our energy, and keeps us awake at night! But there are healthier ways to cope with uncertainty, for example creating a ‘safe space’ in your imagination.

A ‘safe space’ is somewhere we can go to regardless of what is happening around us. Imagine a place that has a lot of positive associations, where you feel safe, comfortable, peaceful, or calm. Give it a name such as ‘home’, ‘woods’, ‘beach’ etc. Really focus on the image and describe the positive emotions it creates and notice where in your body you feel any pleasant physical sensations. Notice the sounds, smells, textures associated with the image. Make the image as vivid in your mind as you can. Identify a single word or phrase that fits the picture, e.g. “relax”, “safe”, “in control”, “at peace”.  When your mind wanders back to worrying or the feelings of uncertainty return, refocus your mind on the image and your own slow, steady, deep breathing. The more practice you put into this, the more effective it will be at helping you to manage anxiety and worry.

And, without some uncertainty and unpredictability, we would never have any surprises. As we have seen during this pandemic, good things do sometimes happen unexpectedly – the rise of volunteering and acts of kindness for instance. Facing uncertainty in life can also help us learn to adapt, overcome challenges, and increase our resiliency. It can help us to grow.

“Tomorrow will be a good day” – Captain Tom Moore)

Garden Blog

For many of us Brooke House and especially the Garden might be our safe space. We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog: https://brookehouse.co.uk/walled-garden-blog/

This week features tips on hardening plants and growing potatoes.

Mental Health

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 07885 808550 or 07885 808546 during office hours or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.
Out of hours, in a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Thursday 7th May 2020

Briefing number 9 falls on an auspicious week. This year’s early May Bank Holiday has been moved back by four days to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day marking the day, towards the end of World War Two, when fighting came to an end in Europe. This holiday was to form part of a three-day weekend of commemorative events to remember and honour the heroes of the Second World War and reflect on the sacrifices of a generation. But all that was before the lockdown and the need for social distancing. But there is no reason why we can’t still mark the occasion.

On Wednesday evening of this week, four members from Maguiresbridge Silver Band, came to the Walled Garden to help us to create a short clip to help celebrate VE Day. We hope you enjoy it. It can be viewed here https://youtu.be/MxL4JQBxO_Q

A host of virtual and remote initiatives have been planned including a UK-wide two-minute silence at 11am, church bells being rung to mark the moment the guns of the Second World War fell silent, and a 9pm singalong to Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again. Belfast City Hall will be illuminated and in Fermanagh there will be the projection of two beams of light in Enniskillen from Thursday to Saturday, to replicate the V for victory sign which lit up the skies in 1945. We’re all being encouraged to take part in the nation’s toast from the safety of our own homes at 3pm on Friday.

Food and mood

Weekly wartime food rations made creative cooks of everyone and there was little in the way of treats. You went to the butcher for weekly meat rations, visited the baker for your allocation of bread and so on. Some similarities with the lockdown you may think! But people now have more of an opportunity to adopt unhealthy behaviour patterns – overeating the wrong kinds of foods and drinking more. There are physiological reasons for some of these behaviours – when the body is stressed it produces too much cortisol, which makes us more likely to over-eat, particularly foods which are high in fat and sugar. The Association of UK Dietitians have written an article with hints and tips to help us eat for a healthy body and mind during the COVID-19 pandemic – https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/eating-well-during-coronavirus-covid-19.html.

But food also affects our mood directly for instance, protein (found in lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, peas, beans, lentils etc) contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals our brain needs to regulate our thoughts and feelings. MIND, the mental health charity, has information exploring the relationship between what we eat and how we feel, including tips on how to incorporate healthy eating into our life. https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2929/food-and-mood-2017.pdf

Jane McClenaghan, a BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist, who ran a number of courses for us earlier this year has launched a Tuesday Teabreak where, every Tuesday morning at 10am, we can join her in her kitchen for an informal chat and catch up on all things nutrition. From planning healthy meals, to making sense of food labels and using simple ingredients in creative ways. We’re hoping to do some more work with Jane through lockdown so watch this space!

Garden Blog

We hope you are enjoying our Garden blog. This week we share with you an update from Dougal, how to look after your potatoes and carrots, and pictures of the Bluebells starting to appear in the Colebrooke woodland: https://brookehouse.co.uk/walled-garden-blog/

Veterans’ Gateway

A 24-hour point of contact for veterans’ support, has launched a new app enabling any ex-Service personnel who are in need to get help with issues such as finances, housing, employment, relationship, physical and mental health. The link to the Directory of Local Support is here: https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/local-support/. There is also a new category within the Local Support tool entitled Covid-19 Local Support that lists local ‘pop-up’ volunteer services. These have a Covid-19 icon to help individuals find them easily. The App also has links to allow an individual to call, email or live chat with the team at the contact centre – that continues to be fully manned 24/7 by Connect Assist advisers. The Veterans’ Gateway app is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play: https://support.veteransgateway.org.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/820 There is also a YouTube video of the app in use.

Mental Health

Information and links to previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/

We will be closed on Friday 8th for the May Day holiday. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk. In a crisis please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 1st May 2020

Welcome to the eighth weekly briefing from Brooke House. This is our way of keeping you up to speed with events and providing information and tools to help us all manage through these unusual and unsettling times.

Food parcels

As you know, we have been assisting those of you who don’t have local support with a food delivery – if you think you would now benefit from this scheme please get in touch and we will discuss your needs with you. We will also call The Walled Garden Blog will contain information about what's happening in the Walled Garden.those who received a delivery previously to see if your needs have changed.

Garden Blog

We hope (more about hope later!) you enjoyed the first ever Garden blog, we have published another one today, they are available here: https://brookehouse.co.uk/walled-garden-blog/

Our plan is to publish this blog weekly, on a secure, interactive site so you can get involved by sending us your questions, sharing photos and much more! We hope to have this in place by next week.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow

 

Mental Health

Information and links to the previously featured material on managing mental health and wellbeing can be found at https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/.

This week our focus is on Hope. The Rainbow of Hope has become a national symbol for supporting the NHS and getting through the coronavirus pandemic together.

Hope has been shown to be connected to mental health, happiness, satisfaction with life, and psychological well-being across all age groups. There is an association between high hope and lower levels of depression, while low hope is associated with a reduction in well-being. Research has also shown that hope acts as a protective factor during life crises. People who have high levels of hope view barriers as challenges to overcome and can more easily find another way to achieve their goals.

If we can value the positive things in life and be thankful for all the good, instead of worrying about what we don’t have or can’t change, our hope will grow. Like a virus, hope can also be transmitted to others but, unlike a virus, providing hope to others makes us feel happier and makes our lives feel more meaningful.

Here’s an example of someone who did just that: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-52355122

Action for Happiness have produced a ‘Coping Calendar’ with 30 suggested actions to look after ourselves and each other as we face this global crisis together. You can download it as a PDF for printing, or pass it on to others and help spread the word.

To sum up, hope can protect us against negativity and despair. It helps us keep in sight a better future in times of adversity, uncertainty, and crises.

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence

 

May Day Holiday

We will be closed on Friday 8th for the May Day holiday. If you have any queries or need additional advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 24th April 2020

Briefing number seven is here already and we have just had the ‘lockdown’ restrictions extended for another 3 weeks. You will recall the Government advice to:

As a result, all the Brooke house staff will be continuing to work from home until the advice changes.

Walled Garden Blog

We have developed in conjunction with Colebrooke Walled Garden, a blog to help keep members and friends of the Walled Garden in touch with what is happening during the Coronavirus lock down and beyond. This blog also contains information about the wider happenings in Colebrooke Park, check it out here: Walled Garden Blog

Food parcels

As you know, we have been assisting those of you who don’t have local support with a food delivery – if you think you would now benefit from this scheme please get in touch and we will discuss your needs with you.

Mental Health

As the lockdown continues there is increasing focus on mental health and wellbeing. We have already provided information and links to our website (https://brookehouse.co.uk/category/coronavirus/), the Health and Social Care NI leaflet – ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’, an NHS Scotland resource called ‘Tips on how to cope if you are worried about Coronavirus and in isolation’, and the Action for Happiness’ 3 good things exercise.

This week our focus is on self-soothing techniques. These are simple things that you can do wherever you are that can bring calm to your mind and body. The most effective techniques involve one or more of our five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Here are some examples:

  • Touchsoak in a warm bath, sit (with sunscreen!) in the warmth of the sun, stretch your muscles, stroke your cat or dog.
  • Taste – sip a cup of soothing herbal tea, suck a mint, treat yourself to an ice lolly from the freezer.
  • Smell – take a sniff of the flowers in your garden, take a deep breath of fresh air, light a scented candle.
  • Sight – read a good book, watch the clouds pass by, watch an entertaining TV programme/film, picture your loved ones.
  • Sound – listen to relaxing music, sing to yourself (or your neighbours!), try some positive statements out loud like I choose hope over fear, Positivity is a choice that I choose to make, I am grateful for the things I have, I can go with the flow.

When trying these techniques focus completely on the task. If you get distracted simply bring your focus back. The more you practice the more effective they will be. 

Other Helplines

Specialist helplines providing a variety of vital support services including information, advice, counselling, a listening ear, and befriending are available through the Helplines Network NI.

Helplines are confidential, non-judgemental, and accessible sources of information, advice, and support. The Helplines Network NI website provides a single point of access to NI Helplines telephone numbers and websites. For further information visit www.helplinesnetworkni.com.

Lifeline is a free, confidential telephone helpline available anytime every day on 0808 808 8000. Counsellors answer all telephone calls. They listen, help, and support you in confidence. They do not judge you. They can deal with different concerns including depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, trauma, sexual violence, and abuse. Lifeline can arrange an appointment for face-to-face counselling or other therapies in your area within seven days. They can put you in touch with follow-up services, so you get the best possible response.

If you have any queries or need additonal advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 17th April 2020

This is the Brooke House briefing number six and will be slightly ‘briefer’ than usual due to the Easter break. We hope you all had a restful one.

Reading

In these unusual times many of us are rediscovering the joy of the written word. Not only is reading pleasurable, but research has shown that it can help to reduce stress. Reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60% by slowing your heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind. It often provides an ‘escape’ from the worries of the day, has been shown to slow memory loss and is good for our mental health.

In case you are not aware, thousands of eBooks and Audiobooks are available to download for free from Libraries NI. You can borrow up to eighteen at a time for three weeks. To make use of this great free service you need to have a Libraries NI membership number. If you have a smartphone or tablet device download the Libby App or Overdrive App and create an account (Choose Libraries NI as your library). For PCs and laptops you need to install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software. So, get reading!

Additional support

So far we have made you aware of our website (https://brookehouse.co.uk/about/), the Health and Social Care NI leaflet – ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’, and an NHS Scotland resource called ‘Tips on how to cope if you are worried about Coronavirus and in isolation’.

This week we’re focussing on gratitude – a thankful appreciation for what we receive and an acknowledgement of the goodness in our lives. Gratitude helps us connect to something larger than ourselves, be that other people, nature, or a higher power. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and higher overall wellbeing. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. We can all cultivate gratitude on a regular basis and, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. You could write a thank-you note, thank someone mentally, or keep a gratitude journal, reflecting on what you are grateful for. See Action for Happiness’ 3 good things exercise: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/find-three-good-things-each-day

If you have any queries or need additonal advice/support you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Thursday 9th April 2020

This the fifth of our Brooke House updates. We hope you have been receiving the previous ones and finding them useful?

Telephone checks

It’s been great to hear how supported most of our clients are during these challenging times. Many of you have family and friends who have rallied round or local services/shops who have stepped up to deliver groceries and/or medicines. We have supplemented this with additional support through a food parcel to some of you and many of these have now been delivered or are on their way.

We also want to make you aware of the Department for Communities NI food parcel initiative recently announced: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/news/hargey-announces-thousands-benefit-food-parcels-service. If you are in receipt of a GP shielding letter or otherwise vulnerable you may be eligible for a weekly food parcel delivery. Ring 0808 802 0020, email covid19@adviceni.net or text ACTION to 81025. You will be assessed and, if suitable, you will receive deliveries through the registered voluntary/community groups operating in the area. If there are medical related supplies in the parcel, deliveries will be authorised by a community pharmacist.

Additional support

For those of you who prefer phone contact rather than emails we are setting up a periodic call system with our Health and Wellbeing Coordinators. We have also re-launched our website which, for the duration of the pandemic, will have regularly updated information and materials: https://brookehouse.co.uk/about/.

Last week we provided a link to the Health and Social Care NI leaflet – Take 5 steps to wellbeing. This week we’re pointing you to a very good NHS Scotland resource called ‘Tips on how to cope if you are worried about Coronavirus and in isolation

We are planning to take a break for Easter so the ‘office’ will be closed from Friday 10th to Tuesday 14th April inclusive.  Otherwise you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk at any time if your circumstances change or you think we might be able to help with something.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Friday 3rd April 2020

This the fourth of our Brooke House updates. Home working has not been without its challenges for our staff what with issues around connectivity and online tools! However, we are working our way around these.

New referrals, initial screenings and reviews

Since we started working from home, we have only received 3 new referrals which is not unexpected given the current situation. We have started to carry out initial screenings by telephone.

Interventions

All face-to face interventions have had to cease which means complementary therapies, physiotherapy, groups etc are on hold for now. However, approximately 20 of our clients remain in talking therapy and a few have been newly referred for this – all delivered remotely.

Telephone checks

We have also managed to call over 200 of you individually to check in and see if you are supported locally or need our help with anything. This has led to us arranging a small number of food deliveries across Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh for those who cannot manage to access food and supplies themselves using an existing support network. We are continuing with this work across the rest of NI. Most people we talk to have asked for ongoing contact by email and one or two have asked for a periodic telephone call which we will set up with the Health and Wellbeing Coordinators.

Additional supportTake5

Health and Social Care in NI have produced a leaflet based on the Take 5 steps to wellbeing. This leaflet offers tips on supporting your mental and emotional wellbeing while staying at home during the current coronavirus outbreak. You can find it here: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/take-5-steps-wellbeing-looking-after-your-mental-health-while-you-stay-home

Just a reminder to all of you that you can call us on 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk at any time if your circumstances change or you think we might be able to help with something.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

Friday 27th March 2020

This the third of what we hope will be fairly regular updates as we all see our way through the coronavirus pandemic. Currently all our substantive staff have transferred to home working.

New referrals, initial screenings and reviews

We are still receiving new referrals although we anticipate that these will drop off significantly in the coming weeks as people reprioritise and as a result of a lack of active promotion on our part. We are also conducting initial screenings and reviews by telephone wherever possible. These will be carried out by 3 new staff members: Amanda Armstrong, Andrea Milligan and Christine Spence.

Interventions

We have provided our Associate Talking Therapists with some guidance on how to maintain therapy remotely either by telephone or using an online platform. For those of you involved in this as clients you will receive some guidance shortly to help you manage this new way of working.

Telephone checks

For us to fully understand your current circumstances and how we might be able to support you further, we will be calling you all individually over the next few weeks. We’d like to know who is around to provide you with any practical support you may need at this time. It would also be useful for us to know if you have any benefits and/or pension concerns as we may be able to connect you with advice on this. We would also like to check that you still want ongoing contact with us. Some people prefer to wait until things are more settled, others are happy enough with periodic emails where others appreciate the option of a telephone call from time to time.

Future support

Once we have bedded in our new processes, we will start to work up some materials to help us all manage our psychological, and physical, wellbeing in these challenging times. Please watch this space.

Please do not come to the Centre in person. Instead call 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

 

Wednesday 18th March 2020

As you know the situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK changes daily. In response to the most recent Government advice and in order to protect our clients, our employees and NHS capacity in the coming weeks, Brooke House is suspending normal services effective immediately. We will be supporting our employees to work from home wherever possible.

We are investigating the facilities for potentially delivering the following remotely, either by telephone or online:

  • Screening appointments following referral
  • Review appointments on completion of services
  • Psychological assessment appointments
  • Talking therapies interventions (Counselling, Clinical Psychology) – if your therapist has already made arrangements directly with you then please continue with that.

Please do not come to the Centre in person. Instead call 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk. We will be contacting you all in the coming days with further updates so please keep an eye on your emails or for those of you who do not have an email address we will try to call instead.

In the meantime, please maintain all the precautionary measures advised by the Government in order to protect yourselves and others.

These are:

  1. Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms: If you experience recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. See: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
  2. Only use the NHS 111 online or telephone service if needed: If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online or call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
  3. Wash your hands: Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands when you get home or into work and/or after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Clean and disinfect door handles, objects and surfaces using suitable cleaning products.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze: To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  5. Keep more physically distant from other people: Do not use public transport unless you have to. Work from home, if you can. Avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. Avoid events with large groups of people. Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services.

As things change so may this advice and we will attempt to keep you as up to date as possible. In the meantime, look after yourselves and others.

 

Monday 16th March 2020

As you know the situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK changes daily. In response to the most recent Government advice and in order to protect our clients, our employees and NHS capacity in the coming weeks, Brooke House is suspending normal services effective immediately. We will be supporting our employees to work from home wherever possible.

In particular, we will no longer deliver the following at all until advised it is safe to do so:

  • Complementary therapies (Acupuncture, Massage, Reflexology, Aromatherapy)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Groups (Horticultural Therapy, Fishing)
  • Structured Residential Programme

We are investigating the facilities for potentially delivering the following remotely, either by telephone or online:

  • Screening appointments following referral
  • Review appointments on completion of services
  • Psychological assessment appointments
  • Talking therapies interventions (Counselling, Clinical Psychology) – if your therapist has already made arrangements directly with you then please continue with that.

Please do not come to the Centre in person. Instead call 028 8953 1223 or email us on info@brookehouse.co.uk. We will be contacting you all in the coming days with further updates so please keep an eye on your emails or for those of you who do not have an email address we will try to call instead.