Last summer, a group of people supported by Camphill Village Trust developed a ‘Staying Well’ toolkit. The toolkit has lots of tips, ideas, and resources to help people look after their mental health. This was particularly relevant as we were in the midst of a pandemic.
Following the success of the toolkit it was agreed to set up a support network that would meet every week using Zoom. This was part of a programme of activity on the new Opportunity TV platform.
Although intended to be a four-week short course the participants agreed to continue meeting every Wednesday to share how they are feeling and offer mutual peer support. The group continues to meet with over 30 people joining some of the weekly ‘drop ins’
At the start of the second Lockdown in November 2020, members of the group decided to co-produce a survey.
The aim was to find out how all people supported by Camphill Village Trust were feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic and what support they received during these challenging times. The survey was completed by 182 people.
Some people completed the survey without support although in many cases people did require some help. This report provides a summary of the findings.
Review of questions and responses
The graph below shows number of completed surveys by community or service.
How does the pandemic make you feel?
As with many of us, the respondents said the pandemic made them feel sad and unhappy. And not being able to meet with friends and family made them feel isolated – something we can all relate to. People did feel like they had enough information on COVID-19 and they felt that they knew where to go for support on their mental wellbeing.
One of the main aspects of support they found most helpful was being able to talk to people about how they felt or to get some reassurance.
What help and support do you get to help manage health & well-being?
The survey asked about the support that people have received to help them throughout the pandemic.
The help people received was from three main groups.
- Support workers
- Family and friends
- Primary health care services.
What people valued about help from Support Workers.
Many comments indicated that support to keep busy and active was significant to wellbeing.
- Staff have helped by playing games in the house.
- Finding things to do during lockdown and found places to go.
- Going for daily walks.
- Support with healthy food choices.
- Support with daily living skills including shopping, cooking and cleaning.
- Arts and craft.
- Social activities including ZOOM sessions.
Support with emotional wellbeing was key to helping people manage.
- Reassurance when anxious.
- Helped calm me down.
- The support workers are here to talk to me.
- We have regular link working sessions along with the housemates.
- Support staff help me with 1:1 time.
- Help me keep in contact with family.
- I have talked with staff, staff helped me understand.
- I talk to my carers about the germs and they know when I am worried, so they talk with me.
- I like to go out in the car with my carers with some music on in the background so I can talk to them.
Practical support with staying safe and healthy.
- Checking temperature every day.
- Staff keep my house mates happy and help us keep space apart.
- Reminding to wear masks and wash hands regularly.
Do you know where to go for help with your mental well-being?
When asked, 85% of people supported said that they did know where to go for help with their mental well-being.
Of those that answered ‘no’, some stated that they have limited support and lived alone. There was a sense for some that they ‘have to’ get through the pandemic alone. Some said that they felt a lack of support from community mental health services.
What else can we do to help you manage your well mental wellbeing?
The support that many people found most useful was having someone to talk to.
- Talk to and give reassurance.
- Talk to about nice things, about weather and nice times.
- Answer my questions.
- Talk about it, get rid of it.
- Just give me comfort when I need it.
- Have a cuppa and a chat with me.
- Speak to someone about my feelings and mental health.
- Key-working with time – coffee.
- Keep supporting me when I am stressed and anxious.
- Support me when I am not feeling brilliant.
- Just ask me ‘how I am’
When and how people are supported varied in responses, showing the importance of a person-centred approach
- I like to talk to staff in private not my family.
- I would like to be left alone sometimes.
- I might need some help speaking to staff let them know how I am feeling.
- I do not know who else can offer support with my mental health or when I feel sad. I think I get upset more easily now and can’t move on easily, it is hard.
- Use breathing techniques and calming solutions in certain circumstances.
- Respect. If someone not feeling themselves show compassion and leave them alone.
Physical Health and Healthy Eating
The responses also indicated a clear link between mental and physical wellbeing. When asked people said that they would like
- More exercise groups, Zumba, Yoga. I would like to go back to the gym.
- I could cook myself some vegetarian meals.
- Need support with eating healthier.
- Help with eating – not too much.
- Walk in the woods outside the community.
- I like walking, walking makes you feel better.
- I would like staff to support me in walking around parks.
- Just going out for walks and fresh air.
- Bike rides.
For some people virtual and on-line activities had been a source of positive support.
- I enjoy zoom sessions.
- More Opportunity TV.
- Like zoom quiz with other houses.
- Help to find a course on-line.
Do you know about the weekly wellbeing sessions on ZOOM?
Just over half of the people completing the survey said they had heard about the weekly wellbeing sessions.
Many of those that didn’t said they would like to give them a go.
Do you think you had enough information?
The need to ensure people have all the information about the pandemic and how to stay safe was a priority for the Trust from early March 2020.
When asked, over 80% felt they had been given enough information to help them.
Is there anything else you would like to see happen?
In my home
- I would like someone to explain the best way to do my shopping.
- More house activities.
- More baking.
- Pamper evenings.
- Help me get healthier foods like veg and salad.
- More support workers. I feel I can’t talk to them as they have too much paperwork.
Camphill Village Trust community
- More socially distanced events.
- More activities – barn dances, talks, films.
- Sports on the green. Things going on in the hall.
- The coffee bar to open and to be able to visit other houses and see my friends.
- The bakery to open.
- Woodwork to be open.
- Help me DJ and sing on stage and do shows.
- More community info what is going on in farm and garden.
- I would like to see more short courses like the music one.
Local community and beyond
- I want to go out of the village and go to the seaside.
- Being able to have a choice to be able to be allowed out of the village on a regular basis.
Spending Time with family and friends
- Visits from family and friends.
- More time with girlfriend.
- Spending time with my friends.
- I would like one day to move in my own flat with my boyfriend.
- More company, doing activities with friends.
- To have groups in the community & meet with others.
Is anything else we can do to help?
Isolation and mental wellbeing
- Support to talk about my mental health. More company as feeling lonely.
- I would like to find out more about mental health and wellbeing and the questions in this survey have been very helpful.
- Some days it can happen that I feel down and then staff might not be free or they are busy.
- I do not want to get worried and paranoid.
- Talk to more staff on a 1-1 about feelings.
- It would be nice to have someone to talk to when I am feeling trapped or really down over the phone available 5-7 days a week.
- Support staff help me with my medication.
- I need help getting cash. I have forgotten how to get cash.
- I want more time with my key worker.
- More zoom especially interactive and I like the idea of drop-in.
- I would like to meet more people.
- More 1-1 time with staff as it takes longer for me to communicate.
- I would like to go to college when its open again, I would like to have a part time job.
- I miss the busyness on a Saturday, plus help to get back into a routine in the café.
- I like to go out and about with people so please keep me informed of any activities that are happening. I like to try new things.
- I would like a job opportunity outside of the community using the skills I have gained from the workshop leaders.
- I may also like an opportunity to live in a house not staffed 24/7.
The purpose of the wellbeing survey was to help us all understand the challenges that people supported by Camphill Village Trust have faced throughout the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Many of the findings shared in the survey highlighted that isolation and the lack of a ‘normal’ routine is a continuing concern.
Whilst most people supported by the Trust stated that they have felt supported and well informed, it continues to be important that support workers help people manage their own mental well-being as much their physical health.
The need for reassurance, information, and having someone to talk too is vitally important especially during the continuing restrictions. It is also important that people are supported and encouraged to remain active and positive. The link between physical and mental health is evident throughout many of the responses.
Whilst there are many similarities there are also many differences in how and when support should be provided. The need to understand this and provide support in a person-centred way has never been so important.
The completed surveys have remained within communities so the managers and keyworkers can respond to each survey in person.
The wellbeing strategy that led to the survey and report has been grounded in coproduction from the start. This has been important as the sense of ownership and responsibility for supporting wellbeing is a collective ambition. This coproductive approach will inform the next steps.
- The completed surveys have remained within communities so the managers and keyworkers can respond to each survey in person.
- This report will be shared widely with staff, managers, Trustees.
- The report will be shared with all people supported by the Trust and their families.
- We will discuss any outcomes and collate subsequent actions in various forums including the weekly ‘wellbeing’, ‘thinking out loud’ and ‘life of opportunity’ sessions.
We will look to engage as many people as possible in planning the next steps. This work has already started with the developing of resources aimed to help people stay connected, active, and informed through the Opportunity TV platform.
If you would like any further information about the well-being toolkit, survey report or if you would like to work with us on making a positive contribution to the wellbeing of people throughout the pandemic and beyond please contact firstname.lastname@example.org