Troy is BGF’s Case Manager in Northern NSW where connecting with clients in rural areas is imperative. Troy usually starts his day with calling clients to check in on their wellbeing and catching up on emails and phone messages and making sure clients are informed of the latest COVID-19 related news.
“One of the [biggest] challenges has been to keep clients informed of the latest COVID-19 updates, especially when there is so much information out there and not all of it accurate. Another challenge has been working out ways to support clients with a minimum of face to face contact and making sure we take precautions such as using appropriate PPE to ensure both client and staff safety.”
In response to lockdown restrictions, BGF has customised how it provides support to clients, past and present and is evidence of the positive impact connecting with clients has.
“One initiative that BGF has put in place is to reach out to former clients to check on their wellbeing and that has been received very well and in some cases we have been able to offer them further support, although often they are just pleased to have someone to chat with and are very grateful for BGF reaching out.”
Amidst the stress and anxiety expedited by COVID-19 we asked Troy to share with us a feel good story.
“One particular success I have had was with an elderly client who has dementia. I was able to help him move to a new house and also assist him with simple things like remembering where his new home is. Having to explain to him why I keep washing my hands, why I am wearing gloves and a mask and why I don’t want him to get me a glass of water and stay a good distance away from me has also been a challenge, particularly as with his dementia I often have to answer those questions multiple times. We were also able to have an aged-care package put into place, which means he now has a worker to help him.”
The impacts of COVID-19 are shedding light on the intersection of vulnerabilities faced by marginalised communities and demonstrates how social isolation and financial instability are affecting their lives.
“Many of my clients are elderly and are obviously concerned about catching COVID-19, particularly those that have compromised immunity systems and have other underlying health issues. However one of the main concerns they have is in relation to being isolated so they’re trying to manage their anxiety around health issues, both physical and mental.
They are also concerned about the social distancing restrictions, especially when they have to go out to shop or attend a medical appointment. For example, many clients who live in small towns have to use local supermarkets at the moment rather than attending a cheaper supermarket chain in a bigger town. Consequently they have to pay more for products they and as many clients are on support or disability pensions and that has a had a big impact on their bottom line.”
On the bright side, an unexpected outcome of COVID-19 has been the opportunity to connect with clients on a deeper level and strengthen the client and community support worker relationship as we work through the obstacles together.
“If we look at the positives of this situation, it has allowed me to consolidate and expand my relationship with clients and that has been very rewarding. Overall I think the support that BGF has maintained with our client base has been very well received and appreciated by our clients which is very gratifying.”