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Blog 3 February 2021

Supporting isolated service users in East Kent to get tested for Covid-19

By Sam Blake
Thanet Team Leader Sam Blake describes the different ways our East Kent Community Service has been supporting vulnerable and isolated clients during the Covid-19 pandemic, including to get tested.

Recovery workers in East Kent are now able to request postal Covid-19 tests on behalf of service users, thanks to the initiative taken by Thanet Team Leader, Sam Blake.

In East Kent, many of our service users are both vulnerable and extremely isolated, making it particularly challenging for them to get tested if they start experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

“Some of our service users don’t even have mobile phones, let alone the internet. So if they fall ill at a time like this, they’re pretty stuck – and that can have a knock-on effect on the rest of their treatment too.” says Sam.

“Unfortunately, the Covid helpline weren’t able to let us bulk order tests to keep in the hub as we’d hoped, but they did agree to send postal tests directly to service users if we were to request them on their behalf.”

The next step was figuring out the easiest and safest way for service users to provide consent for their personal details to be shared. Sam consulted our Governance Team, who were able to produce a consent form that could be completed verbally and uploaded to our system ahead of time. This means that, in future, if a client reports symptoms of Covid-19, teams already have the consent necessary to get a test sent to their home address immediately. This system has now been rolled out across all of our hubs in East Kent.

“Our focus is always on our service users. Their needs are constantly at the heart of what we do” Sam says.

The Thanet Team now keep a record of the Covid status of each of their service users – whether they are shielding, reporting symptoms, isolating etc. – which they review and update every morning.

“At a time like this, it’s important to stay on top of the situation so we know whether to increase contact with a service user if they’re having a hard time. It’s all about keeping it fresh – we’re a year in now, so it would be all too easy to get complacent.” Sam says.

Earlier in the pandemic, the team also sent out resource packs containing information and advice on accessing things like food parcels and mental health support. Since then, sadly there has been a number of service users who have lost loved ones to Covid. So the team has taken to sending out condolence cards and extra support in these circumstances as well.

“For many of our service users, when they lose somebody, they might not have anybody else. When we send out cards, we’re not looking for anything in response – it’s just a bit of recognition to say: we’ve heard about your loss, we’re thinking of you.”

Well done to Sam and the rest of our staff in East Kent for the amazing work they’re doing to support our clients at such a troubling time.