People across Walsall are continuing to receive counselling and emotional support, following the death of a loved one during COVID-19, thanks to the roll out of virtual consultations.
The Bereavement Support Team, based at Walsall Palliative Care Centre, worked with Walsall Together Integrated Care Partnership to implement a video call consultation system between their laptops and service user’s mobile phones.
Keith Duckett, Lead Counsellor and Team Leader, said: “We know how important the counselling we offer is to family and friends who have lost a love one and usually we are able to do this face to face. COVID-19 restrictions meant that was no longer possible so we knew we needed to come up with a solution that enabled us to continue to offer therapy or emotional support people when needed, and where phone work alone did not seem enough. The relationship between a counsellor and counsellee is really important, so finding a solution that enabled both visual and verbal communication was invaluable in allowing us to continue deliver quality care and build and maintain relationships during these challenging times.
He added “Some of the people we have been talking to live alone and so for us to be able to see each other and have that visual interaction has been wonderful. For one of my counsellees, who communicates mostly in writing they have been able to write things down and hold the paper up for me to read. Knowing we have still been able to help these people at a time when they are feeling more isolated than normal has been invaluable.”
Jo, Daniels, Specialist Counsellor for Families and Young People, said: “We are really proud of the way in which this new virtual service has been embraced especially by our older residents who are sometimes not used to using modern technology. Whilst the benefits of face-to-face counselling and the little things like a hug when you can see someone needs it cannot be replaced, I think a lot can be said for offering virtual sessions especially for those who are isolated or unable to travel.”
Frank Botfield, Assistant Director of IT Strategy and Walsall Together IT Digital Lead, said: “It was more important than ever to make sure people could still access these vital services. Losing a loved one can have a massive impact on people’s mental health and for many people the lockdown has meant they haven’t have the support of family and friends in a way they normally would. It has been really rewarding to hear just how much these virtual consultations have helped members of our community during these difficult times.”
The team, who usually offer counselling to family and friends of relatives who have been receiving palliative care for, or passed away from, Cancer, Chronic Heart Failure, COPD, MND, Renal Failure or Respiratory Failure, have extended their service to include families and staff affected by bereavements related to COVID-19.
They have also been continuing with therapeutic sessions with counselees over the telephone where preferred and have been supporting our Information and Support Centre’s Outreach Team.
For more information on the Bereavement Services available in Walsall contact our Information & Support Services on 602610.