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The Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on all aspects of our lives, as well as how many of our services are being delivered.

Here Kieran Grant, Senior Substance Misuse Practitioner at Nottingham Recovery Network, share’s his story of how Covid has changed his life and how the service has adapted to still support Service Users.

How has the Coronavirus impacted on your team?

With wife Sarah and myself both working from home and the kids there too, lockdown was a shock to the system, though the change in circumstances were easy to adapt to as we lead a pretty simple lifestyle. We are lucky to have a nice house and garden and the weather being nice helped with the kids. I knew I was going to miss the gym so set up equipment in the garage. I missed golf but luckily that’s back on. Saturdays were strange without football. Unfortunately I got a groin strain digging the garden and eventually took a month off running to recover. We started to eat better and together, exercise more as a family and generally spend more quality time together, though not being able to see friends was difficult.

How has the Coronavirus impacted your service?

NRN Triage service is a face-to-face service so that was the biggest difference to start with: with no footfall it’s so much calmer. We started assessments and treatment over the phone which was strange at first because reading body language and developing rapport is so important in helping people change behaviour and, ultimately, their drug and alcohol use. It’s impacted on how we assess and treat people; how we get referrals and input the data; who does what and where. We’ve seen an increase in demand, especially for Opioid Substitute Therapy, and now alcohol referrals are on the rise: alcohol sales are up by 30% and people are celebrating at 4pm with a glass or two of wine having ‘survived’ the day. I’ve actually heard people say this!

What have your team done in response?

We developed new innovative pathways that are responsive to need – clients being rung on the day or booked in when convenient. Daily management meetings dissect ongoing Covid guidance and are implemented through risk assessments and infection control. A and B teams have been in operation, keeping bodies in the Hub to a minimum. We have lots of new signs, one way systems, and tape everywhere. I have been providing telephone support to those working from home: somehow keeping the team together when we aren’t has been one of my priorities. Checking in with a big staff team does take a while and team meetings on Teams have been useful but not without problems. Fortunately my team has pulled together, adapted well, supported each other, and got on with it. I’m really proud of them and truly grateful for it but more importantly so are the clients. Well most of them anyway.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We all have our reasons for working in this field and I’m lucky enough to love what I do by helping people and my staff. I’d just encourage everyone to look out for themselves and each other, whether at home, work or family, so we can continue to do our bit to get through these crazy days together.