Spinal Injuries Scotland adapt to deliver vital services during COVID-19
Read a blog from Laura Torrance, Peer Support Coordinator at Spinal Injuries Scotland (SIS). Laura discusses the impact of the COVID pandemic and how they have responded in order to deliver support during unprecedented times.
One of our main services at Spinal Injuries Scotland (SIS) is Peer Support, it is at the heart of what we do. This involves staff and volunteers attending the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow in person and sharing stories of their own life experiences of living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). We offer emotional support, information, tips and practical advice to patients and their families.
We also attend weekly rehabilitation session at the unit, outreach clinics across the whole of Scotland as well as hosting coffee meets and greets for our members too.
But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and we could no longer offer these services face-to-face. We had to find new ways to support people living with a spinal cord injury.
So we turned technology for the answers and embraced platforms such as Zoom, Teams and social media to allow us to connect with everyone we support.
We created a dedicated community page on Facebook to provide a safe and private place for all our members to chat and share experiences of how they were coping with the restrictions in place. It’s been truly amazing to witness the support within the group.
Coffee meets were able to continue - albeit virtually through Zoom - and has allowed members from all over Scotland to connect and build friendships that would have otherwise been very unlikely. It also gave those that were unable to attend in person previously a chance to join in too. This is a service that we expect will stay in place even after restrictions are fully lifted, bringing a bit of positivity out of the last year.
We also had time to call and reach out to each and every one of our members and support each other again which has been wonderful and we are continuing to do so.
We still kept in touch with the spinal unit on a weekly basis and offered support via phone or Zoom video calls to any patient or family member that needed it. We also added a new chat function to our website so people could easily reach us without the added stress or anxiety of picking up the phone.
Like many, we joined the trend and regularly hosted quiz nights to bring a bit of entertainment to our members and posted weekly treats to the spinal unit to boost patient and nurse morale which was always welcomed with a thanks.
This year, we are celebrating 60 years that our charity has been offering peer support to spinal patients and their families. This last year has been one of the most challenging years for the charity and we cannot wait to begin our services face-to-face once again, but until then we will continue to adapt and improve our services where we can.
As a charity, we rely on donations to fund the services we provide to people living with a spinal cord injury and without the help from Digby Brown, we could simply not afford to provide this much needed support so thank you, from each and every one of us at Spinal Injuries Scotland.