The Cedar Foundation – Member in Focus #42

Interview with Colin Hamilton from The Cedar Foundation.

Tell us a bit about yourself and/or your organisation.

My name is Colin Hamilton and I am the Deputy Services Manager for Floating support for the Older People within The Cedar Foundation. We provide support to individuals over the age of 55 to remain independent within their own home and maintain their tenancy. The Older People (55+) Floating Support Schemes operate in the areas of Moyle, Lisburn, Newtownards & Downpatrick.

How well have you/your organisation adapted to the pandemic?

Floating support for The Cedar Foundation has operated throughout the pandemic in providing support to our service users. We have continued to provide face-to-face housing related support to individuals, when required, while complying with current regulations, for example, ensuring staff don PPE at all times and adhere to social distancing guidelines, as recommended by the Public Health Agency.

We have adapted some support provision by using various messaging platforms, for example, WhatsApp, Messenger etc., together with video conferencing, such as ZOOM, Webex and other similar programmes, depending on the technical abilities of individuals whom we support. Support has also been delivered through more orthodox means, such as phone calls, text messaging, e-mails etc.

How well have people/organisations in your area collaborated throughout the pandemic?
Throughout the pandemic, The Cedar Foundation has maintained our professional working relationships with other professionals and organisations, for example Social Services, NIHE, Foodbanks etc. Some difficulty has been experienced in receiving referrals from our statutory partners during ‘lockdown periods’, as there has been misconception that our Floating Support Services have not been able to deliver face-to-face support during these periods, which has not been the case. However, communication by Floating Support Managers has been key in ensuring statutory and other partners/ potential referral agents the services are, when required by service users, providing direct face-to-face contact.
The use of Floating Support Provider Forums and other similar inter-agency structures have been of benefit to Cedar Floating Support in sharing and disseminating good practice in regard to service delivery. Collaboration with the funding body, Supporting People has also been paramount in enabling services to continue to provide effective support with contingency funding, if required.
What key needs are becoming apparent and/or are likely to arise this year?

The needs of the individuals using Cedar Floating Support are of those who have various disabilities, for example, physical and/or sensory disability, brain injury, or learning disabilities, as well as individuals who are 55+, requiring housing related support to prevent tenancy breakdown. Due to the pandemic, we have witnessed more service users who feel and/or are socially isolated and subsequently, this has affected their mental health and well-being also. Consequently, support needs are more intense in some instances and the staff too, have at times felt stressed. We have focused on sourcing both paid and free training for staff to assist them with not only delivering support to service users who are experiencing some mental health trauma, but also how to manage effectively their own mental health.

Other challenges in supporting service users, is being able to provide direct face-to-face support, where needed. If in some instances the latter is required, but for some reason it cannot be provided, we will need to re-double efforts to deliver support by smarter, more innovative and alternative methods, to maintain quality service provision, thereby ensuring service users obtain the support required.

ASK: What do you need, right now, that the members of Community Network NI and/or the wider community may be able to help you with?
At the commencement of our Older People (55+) Floating Support Schemes, we faced the first ‘lockdown’ in March and have faced others since. This has made it difficulty to promote the services effectively and thereby generate referrals.
Promotion and disseminating information on the services would be highly beneficial, particularly as we have fully staffed Older People Floating Support Teams in the services in Moyle and the Downpatrick/Lisburn/N’ards areas. Luckily, the staff have on occasions been able to be deployed in our Regional Floating Support Service for people with disabilities. However, we recognise there are many older people in the community who would benefit from Floating Support, therefore ‘spreading the word’, of our Schemes would be highly beneficial to us, as an organisation.
👋 If you would like to respond to this ask, please follow the link below and enter “THE CEDAR FOUNDATION” to the first field.

OFFER: What support are you currently offering and are you open to members of Community Network NI and/or the wider community making contact?

We offer housing related support to people over the age of 55 who live in and around the areas of Lisburn, Newtownards, Downpatrick & Moyle.

We can support people with –
• Tenancy rights and responsibilities
• Debt, budgeting and benefit checks
• Home safety, household management skills, home adaptations and repairs
• Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, independent shopping and basic cooking skills
• Access to local health and medical facilities
• Access to social / recreational and community facilities and classes
• Signposting beneficial schemes and services

We are open to referrals from any source, whether this be statutory, community or voluntary organisations. Individuals can also self-refer to our Older People (55+) Schemes.

Our Floating Support Schemes are available to social housing/private renting tenants, or home-owners. Support is free and it is funded through the Supporting People Programme (administered by the NIHE).

👋 If you would like to be connected with this offer of support, please follow the link below and enter “THE CEDAR FOUNDATION” to the first field.

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