As the pandemic lockdown gradually begins to ease we’d like to take a moment and look at some of the positive changes this difficult time has brought.

Online Services

It’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s less than three short months ago that the world worked so differently. One of the first changes here at VOCAL was the acceleration of our existing moves to offer remote access support for carers, through online systems like NHS Scotland’s Attend Anywhere. Fortunately when the pandemic hit, VOCAL had already been investigating new technologies like this for some time, and we were able to quickly and effectively roll out our video call support.

Of course we all look forward to being able to welcome carers back into the Edinburgh Hub and Midlothian Centre as soon as it’s safe to do so. However our new online support isn’t just a COVID-19 stop-gap. Online appointments will add to our historic range of support options going forward. This allows us to support carers more flexibly, as well as letting us provide face to face support remotely to the many carers whose caring role makes travel – or keeping an appointment out of the home – a challenge.

Equal Partners in Care

How often we’ve heard that phrase over the years! Happily – with a little encouragement from organisations like us – local authorities and the Scottish Government have put their money where their mouth is: cementing the position of carers as equal partners in care with real concrete actions such as

  • The provision of PPE for unpaid carers in line with other key workers
  • Official inclusion of carers as priority group 4 key workers allowing priority testing for the COVID-19 virus for carers
  • The provision of official identification for carers as key workers by both Midlothian and Edinburgh councils

Just as our successful remote support will continue on beyond the pandemic, VOCAL will be working to ensure that these positive steps in the recognition and support of carers as truly equal partners in care, are maintained and built upon in the years to come.

Creative Breaks for carers

Another positive shift has been the increased creativity in applications to our short breaks funding. Time off from caring can take many forms and we’re delighted to see carers getting support -and funding – for things as diverse as garden sheds, sewing machines and even movie channel subscriptions to support them in taking time off from their caring roles.

We’re also continuing to develop on our breaks without boundaries philosophy with some great virtual breaks coming up next week in our Carers Week programme.

Volunteering from home

Last but by no means least – especially as this week is Volunteer Week – we’d like to thank our tireless volunteers, some of whom have even been able to continue their volunteering from home just as VOCAL’s staff have successfully moved to working from home. We’ve some new and exciting volunteering opportunities which will be perfectly suited to this kind of flexible “home working” approach as the year progresses so watch this space! And again thank you to all our volunteers, we’re looking forward to welcoming you back just as soon as it’s safe.