In the early days of the pandemic, it became clear that many people would not be able to leave their homes at all for a significant period due to their increased vulnerability to coronavirus. This included all people over 70.
Our Community Investment team quickly realised we would need to give these people extra help in various ways. So they set up an outreach programme to make sure we were doing everything possible to support our vulnerable customers.
Here Leah Campbell, one of our Health & Wellbeing Project Co-ordinators, shares the task she faces, the pride she has found in her work, and the great response she has had from our residents.
More than just a housing association
“These last few weeks I’ve been on the phone to electric companies, pharmacists and doctors, all on our residents’ behalf. It’s so varied,” says Leah, who has worked at A2Dominion for 13 years.
“But people are really grateful that we’re thinking outside the box and acting as more than just a housing association. I’ve had some really lovely comments from people saying what a difference these calls make to them. And I’ve found it so rewarding. I love older people and I treat everyone I speak to as if they were my grandparents.”
Leah moved into her current role as Health & Wellbeing Project Co-ordinator a year ago when the team was formed. She initially only worked three days a week, juggling her work life with looking after two young children. Now she’s not only increased her hours to meet the demands of the current crisis, she can find herself called upon at any time.
“I log on at 7am most days won’t log off until 10 at night, although I am doing other things during that time. The long hours are partly because I have to home school one of my children in the daytime and the other is starting school in September so I have to get him school ready, so I fit my own work around that,” she explains.
“I also work one full day every weekend as my husband is around to look after the children and I can do a full day in one go.”
A life-saving service
When Leah calls someone and identifies them as needing additional support, she gives them her mobile number to offer out-of-hours support. She has received a number of calls from residents, with issues ranging from the relatively simple to one full-blown medical emergency.
“One elderly gentleman called me early one Monday, panicked and relieved that I’d answered. He told me that he’d been in pain all weekend but didn’t want to disturb me. He said I was his last resort and remembered me telling him to call if he needed anything at all,” she says.
“He had been trying to call 111, but because he was hard of hearing he couldn’t make out the automated system. He just kept hearing the words ‘go online’. I established what the issue was and spoke to 111 on his behalf, contacted his doctors and followed up once he’d had treatment. He was teary when we spoke, he told me that I had saved his life, and he was so thankful that I had given him my number the week before.”
While not all the calls Leah and her colleagues make will result in such a dramatic and important intervention, every call makes a difference, even if someone just feels lonely and needs someone to speak to. That’s why so many A2Dominion staff are working hard to keep our residents connected and safe. The customers are very grateful for all their hard work, and so are we.
Do you know someone who needs help?
If you or someone you know needs support at the moment, we’ve put together a summary of the various ways we can help on our website – from delivering food and medicine, to support with your finances and ways we are combating social isolation. Even if these issues don’t affect you personally, it’s likely someone in your local community is facing these challenges and might not be able to access help online.
Please have a think about anyone who could benefit from this advice and share it with them. A simple phone call can go a long way. Thanks for your help.