Companionship and support in the community
Molly Fendom: community support worker for older adults in South Bucks
“I love my job!” That’s the first thing Molly Fendom says about her role as a community support worker in High Wycombe.
Working in the South Buckinghamshire Older Adults Community Mental Health Team in High Wycombe, Molly supports a caseload of clients, all aged over 65, who have enduring mental health need. Her role is to provide practical and emotional support in people’s home or care home.
“I enjoy that one-to-one contact and making a difference,” she says.
In normal times, before the pandemic, she would be out and about visiting her clients.
She explained: “My role is very much about helping to build confidence and encourage independence. For instance, we could first go for a coffee or a club together, and the next time I’d say: ‘I’ll meet you there’.
“Or I could help with money management. One client had never used a cash machine before, so I helped them learn how to do that. Sometimes we’ll just go for a walk.”
She also does a lot of research on what kind activities and support are available to meet her clients’ needs in the community.
Now because of Coronavirus, she mainly keeps in contact with her clients over the phone and only sees the most vulnerable at their homes using PPE and social distancing – sometimes on the doorstep or garden.
“I call my clients once a week, and more often, if needed. I do miss the one-to-one contact, but I can tell my clients appreciate the calls,” she says. Importantly, she knows her clients well.
“I read care notes extensively, so I know what their interests are or if there is a topic someone doesn’t like to talk about,” she says. She also encourages her clients to follow the guidance on Covid-19: hand washing, social distancing and staying safe.
During the lockdown Molly has been helping care coordinators by delivering medication to care homes.
“We have all been adapting and helping each other and I feel safe doing it; we wear our PPE,” she says.
Molly feels she has been faring well with the changes the pandemic has brought.
“At first I felt a little anxious but then I just thought: let’s crack on. That’s why I am in this job. And the sense of community is massive,” she says.
“I went to the supermarket and had forgotten to take my badge off, and every said, ‘no, no, you go first’. I felt embarrassed. It’s flattering, but I do not feel I should have a priority to be served!” she says.
The South Buckinghamshire Older Adults Mental Health Team is a multi-professional team of 40, consisting of community support workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses and occupational therapists.
They provide community mental health and social care support for people over 65 with a severe and enduring mental health need. They also specialise in people with dementia and provide a memory diagnostic service.
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Published: 22 May 2020