FaNs Network Essex response to Covid-19 (updated)

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MHLECA and FaNs Network is still working to respond to the Covid-19 Challenge in our Care Homes


Did you know, that we've managed to supply over 25,000 pieces of PPE to Care Homes across Mid and North Essex, all donated by incredible volunteers or sourced locally and completely free of charge. We've also been able to send 'Care Packages' to a number of Care Homes, made up from Donations of goods/cash to buy goods from over 20 different local businesses/individuals.

And our 'Covid-19 Adapted' Wishing Washing Line is up and running - we've had a round for Colchester Homes and then for Maldon Homes ..... watch out Clacton Homes - you're next!

Thank you to everyone, we really couldn't do it without YOU.


We'd also like to thank the Funders who are supporting us through Covid-19 and helping us to rise to the challenge of adapting our FaNs initiatives to keep our Care Home Residents and Communities connected within the current restrictions.

Essex Community Foundation
The Natonal Lottery Community Fund
Tesco Bags of Help

Rising to the Challenging Times!

Here at FaNs Essex we are trying to innovate to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 lockdown situation on our Essex Care Homes residents, their Carers, Family and Friends, including our regular ‘friends and neighbours’ (FaNs). As a charity we are responding by aiming to continue to deliver FaNs community connecting activities for Care Homes by ‘different’ means – and to help support the Essex Care Homes who are under so much pressure caring for our older people.

That means we're still working with care homes and local organisations to keep residents happy whilst in isolation, and especially at this time to support the hard-working Care Staff. Due to our own small staffing resource, and the sheer logistics, we can only cover limited geographical areas within North and some parts of Mid Essex, but where possible we try to signpost other Essex Homes to sources available for assistance.

What are we doing?

  • Our FaNs Team have been out delivering milk, eggs, fruit and veg and anything else the homes ask for. We continue to have support from Tesco and from Harris & Hoole who recognise how difficult it is for busy care home staff to leave a shift and join a long shopping queue for essential items.
  • Many deliveries have also been undertaken by existing Essex FaNs who have relationships with Care Homes.
  • We are very proud of our own Team FaNs Tony who has done an amazing job, including personally delivering Easter eggs (donated by Tesco Highwoods) to a number of Care Homes, whilst delivering other vital PPE supplies, and Team FaNs Jo has organised a ‘treat box’ for residents to replace our ‘Pop-Up Shop’ in the Homes where this is had already been introduced.
  • All Government and Public Health advice is being followed, with Social Distancing being maintained, and no-one is entering the Care Homes.
  • Care Home staff have used our FaNs Network Facebook page and direct messaging to both shout out their needs and post their thanks and appreciation of all help received.
  • With Care staff under increased pressure to communicate with families who are unable to visit and who are desperate for feedback on the wellbeing of their loved ones we have minimised our regular telephone contact with the Care Homes. That doesn’t mean we have forgotten anyone!

It’s so important to continue to #makeeverymomentcount when we can still be #alonetogether in this unusual situation. Thinking outside the box is the challenge so we’re always happy to hear any feedback or new ideas.

Tony Lee, FaNs Community Network Lead
Photo collage of FaNs initiatives in Covid times

We’re continuing to use Social Media to maintain connections

At FaNs Essex we have always been aware of the ‘power for good’ use of Social media. It is so important in keeping the community in touch with their local care homes, and giving the Care Homes a way of sharing their Residents’ wishes and needs from the local communities. Our recent Facebook appeals for comfort items and essential item deliveries have been vital and very successful. A massive ‘Thank you’ to everyone who has responded, and apologies if we can’t respond to messages as quickly as we’d like. Lisa, one of the Charity Trustees, and Team FaNs Jo is working hard behind the scenes to manage responses.

Our Facebook posts have been reaching over 20k and engagement has increased by almost 300%

  • Through ‘virtual Wishing Washing Line’ requests we've had board games delivered to a care home in Clacton and they went down very well indeed!
  • Our "Colchester Needs You" post gained over 11,000 views and was shared 79 times, creating new friendships and support networks for 15 local care homes.
  • This included an appeal for new Pen Pals from one Care Home which was immediately answered by the Activities co-ordinator of another, proposing that residents from the 2 Care Homes wrote to each other!
  • We're awaiting the go ahead on a FaNs DVD library for Care Home residents. We’ve had the DVD’s donated but we're waiting on a storage option, advice on infection control and an appropriate and safe delivery method.
  • We're organising video chats so residents can stay in touch with their loved ones. We’ve been able to source some Tablets for Care Home to use – including some via our partnership with the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEE CCG).
  • Even the youngsters from the #UpProject have been able to stay in touch with their Grand-friends, via technology and by sending pictures and even scrapbooks to maintain relationships whilst apart.
  • The Squirrels Nursey did some fantastic drawings for Care Home residents to keep them cheerful.
  • Colchester Care Home residents, by popular request from the gentlemen, will shortly be able to enjoy a sociable Pint together again. The Colchester Brewery has agreed to send small kegs of specialist beers to local Homes.
  • We responded to an appeal from a local Care Home for FaNs to sew Face Masks - to wear under proper PPE masks. We posted a Facebook request which included the relevant sewing instructions, courtesy of a referenced YouTube video tutorial. In the blink of an eye a FaN, Jane Fredricks, arrived with a delivery which was much appreciated at Great Horkesley Manor. Another Fan, Sally McBain, also made some lovely colourful face masks for Down Hall Residential Care Home which they were delighted with. You can find these instructions here but please check with your local care home first to see if any are required.
  • We've used our FaNs Network platform to send resources to the public and the care homes, such as printable bookmarks to colour in and send to the care homes, and knitted/crochet heart pairs – with one for the resident and one for the family to know they are thinking about each other. You can find these resources on our Facebook page

FaNs Network Partnerships - we can always do more together, but especially now

FaNs Network continues to link with various organisations, both working with our existing and developing new Partners, all of whom are keen to show their support for our FaNs initiatives. Many organisations recognise our long, established relationship with Essex Care Homes and are linking with us for guidance on how best to reach out to local Care Homes in the current crisis situation.

As part of our continued development of intergenerational initiatives we had just started building a new partnership with the organisations "Lads Need Dads", with a view to matching young people and gentlemen in care homes. Most of the matching has now been completed and they will now be encouraged to start pen pal communication with a view to meeting up in the future when this become possible.

Colchester U3A knitting group have lovingly crafted and donated 'pairs of hearts'; heart 1 goes to the Care Home resident and heart 2 is safely sent to the resident's family/friend.

Working together to support the Care Home Staff

The North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG), a longstanding partner, contacted FaNs Network for help in ensuring the Care Homes in their area were aware of the advice and support available to them in the current Covid-19 situation. This resulted in Tony personally delivering emergency PPE via the CCG distribution hub to a number of Colchester, Clacton and Harwich Care Homes. Please note that FaNs does not control the PPE supply; Care Homes must contact the NEECCG to arrange a delivery.

Pepi Sanchez from GO4 Enterprises and Claire Fisher from the Science and Technology Department at St Helena’s school have been outstanding making hundreds of free of charge visors to protect the care home staff and residents. They have been in great demand and Team FaNs Tony has distributed these to many Essex care homes where they have been very gratefully received. We have had a number of FaNs see our posts on this and message to offer assistance with delivery.

The Gilberd School have also been making visors for St Fillans Care Home which they were extremely grateful for.

Willow Tree Nursery in Clacton-on-Sea donated over 11,000 disposable aprons for distribution to Essex Care Homes, and along with the Essex Fire and Rescue Service 2,800 disposable gloves were also donated. Team FaNs and volunteers have been distributing these in response to requests from the Care Homes. Photos of very grateful Care Staff can be seen on our Facebook page and we have been overwhelmed with their messages of thanks.

Together we can make a huge difference to support our Carers to keep themselves and their residents safe and say a big 'thank you' for all that they are doing - so many are going well beyond their usual 'extra mile' for their residents!

Delievery of Visors, Masks and Easter Eggs for hardworking Care Home staff
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