Reflections on a “gruelling” twelve months of lockdown

As we mark the twelve month milestone on lockdown, it seems an opportune time to share this brilliant staff blog from Penumbra Support Manager, Fiona Semple.

I don’t think that my reflections on the past year will be unique and I’m sure they will sound familiar to many. In March last year it became clear that this was a situation that nobody had any experience of. This generated some anxiety and fear, but I also drew some comfort from knowing that there was a sense of us all being in this together, all finding our way, learning and supporting each other.

As a manager of one of our registered care homes I am fortunate to be able to have day to day contact with the people we support, but as the manager I am always one step further away from the day to day support that my team provide. However, in the past year I have covered support in a frontline capacity that I don’t typically get to do, so my support contact has been greater than usual.

I have been fortunate to work with many peer recovery workers during my career with Penumbra and this past year has been the closest I’ve experienced to dipping my toe in as a peer worker.  It has been so helpful to have been able to have had open and mutual conversations with supported people, to offer help and support as an equal.

For example, when supported people have expressed frustrations about their routine and structure being turned on its head, or sadness about not being able to see family or friends it has been nice to approach this from a mutual position despite my job title, to share wellbeing tips, to inspire hope and share self-management tools.

It’s been a gruelling 12 months for the people that we support, but they have shown tremendous levels of resilience.

Many of the changes that we have seen introduced across the service will remain in the long term, particularly around prevention of infection.

My team have demonstrated a great depth of compassion, commitment and flexibility and have been a great support to me, to each other and the people they support.

I have always been keen to develop a supportive environment for my team, so we introduced Wellbeing Wednesday to the service last year and this is something that I now consider to be a permanent feature.

Fiona and her daughter after a rather chilly fundraising loch swim for Penumbra

I’m fortunate to have a very supportive partner and family, and my love of running, walking and wild swimming have been crucial hobbies for my wellbeing.

Change is always considered to be tricky, but this past year has shown us that we should never underestimate people’s ability to change.

Thank you so much for sharing your reflections, Fiona. We’ve loved reading about your team and that Wellbeing Wednesday is now a permanent feature. If Fiona has inspired you to write a blog for Spotlight, please drop us a line to