"I am really impressed with how safe the centre feels"

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Covid Coordinator

It took about three months to get our wellbeing centre ready to reopen. It really was a long and detailed approach but between many specialist roles in Southdown, with Risk Management and Health and Safety teams taking the front lead, we worked together to get the centre ready.

Please tell us about your role as Covid Coordinator

Hi, my name is Alisha and I work within the East Sussex Community Network as the Eastbourne Wellbeing Centre Coordinator. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I have taken on the role of Covid Coordinator here.

This role involves coordinating everyone in and out of the building, ensuring that risk assessments are being followed and in-line with what is required, and stock checking and ordering PPE and safety measures when needed.

What is a Covid-secure workplace?

Southdown have really thought through how to make our workplaces Covid-secure and as safe as possible. A Covid-secure workplace is where the employer has made the work environment as safe as possible for employees returning to work - as well as the clients and other visitors coming on site. The idea is to increase safety measures and reduce the risk of transmission.

Can you tell us how you made the Wellbeing Centre Covid-secure?

It took about three months to get our wellbeing centre ready to reopen. It really was a long and detailed approach but between many specialist roles in Southdown, with Risk Management and Health and Safety teams taking the front lead, we worked together to get the centre ready.

There was a very detailed risk assessment which led to a mixture of building checks, service needs discussions, room layout changes, and a big clear out of unnecessary posters and soft furnishings. We then created sanitising/PPE stations throughout the building, added colourful 2metre and one-way floor tape, and put up creative reminder posters of how to stay safe at work. The final stage was setting up our ‘space’ booking calendar to ensure we never went over our centre capacity for workers and visitors.

How has the Wellbeing Centre changed since the pandemic?

Before Covid-19 we typically had between 20 and 60 people passing through a day. We are now only able to accommodate seven individuals at a time and only see clients on an ‘essential only’ basis. Whilst we used to be a community environment and have an activity heavy timetable, now we offer very few face-to-face meetings and we have adapted to offer an online timetable instead.

Can you tell us how you will continue to keep the centre safe?

To ensure we are keeping the building safe, we have added a few ongoing tasks. As the Centre Coordinator I keep on top of PPE supplies (including hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes) and we ensure that only a set number of staff are booked in at a time and that we don’t go over our centre capacity. I take an active lead in supporting the team to remember the new cleaning system and ensure that everyone has the most up-to-date Covid-safe information when using the building. We have also increased our deep cleaning to daily.

PPE kits have been supplied to all staff using the centre. They have everything in them and are in tidy ‘grab and go’ bags. Around the building we have sanitising stations that clients who are invited in for essential face-to-face work can use should they not have suitable PPE. However, in advance of their attendance, we are informing them they need to wear a face covering and will need to use sanitiser before and after entering the building.

How are you keeping in touch with clients?

We are typically communicating with clients using phone and email but when someone is invited into the centre, we are sharing with them a client-friendly booklet. It details what to expect from us, what we ask of them, some photos of the centre, a small Q&A section of things we think our clients would ask, and details of other services that could support them during the current climate.

What have been the biggest challenges throughout this process?

I will be honest and say that I have personally found the biggest challenge to be ‘the unknown’. Covid-19 and working in a Covid-secure way is new to us all. During the process of getting the building ready, I constantly felt lost and confused. However, my colleagues in Risk Management and Health and Safety really stepped up and guided us. For that I am very grateful, especially as I know it was just as new and unknown to them as it was for us.

I think it would be fair to say for both the team and myself that the change in how and where we work and not seeing each other daily, means we miss out on office chat and support. We do our best to support each other via phone and have virtual tea breaks together but it’s something that feels much less natural.

Do you have any advice or guidance for people who are nervous about entering a building?

To colleagues and clients who are nervous about entering Southdown buildings, I would like to tell them that I am really impressed with how safe the centre feels and the multiple safety measures Southdown has put in place. The increased cleaning schedule has also really helped us to feel safe.

The personal risk assessments also really help because they open up a space to talk about extra measures to put in place for safety and to reduce anxieties about returning.

For staff in particular, I would say the training ahead of your return to any building really does help to clarify what is expected of you and of others. My team had more nerves about ‘not doing something right’ than they did about their own wellbeing, so the training really helped with this.

I would remind those who might be nervous to remember that no question is silly – this is new to us all and you can take small steps. You don’t have to jump right into a full day on site. You could ask for a ‘show around’ first so you can see what has changed, what the room layouts look like etc. in advance of basing there for a day.

I’ve found that everyone is very respectful of each other’s space and mindful that we each have our own comfortability level. It has been lovely to hear people supporting and checking in on each other’s wellbeing and this helps guide me through the day.

 

Since the Covid-19 lockdown, we’ve been working to make our open offices, centres, and learning disability services Covid-secure for the safety of our staff and clients. Please check our news section and individual service pages for up-to-date information.