Council team rallies round shielding residents in Midlothian

Over 3300 Midlothian residents ‘shielding’ at home due to COVID-19 have received support from the council’s newly formed shielding team. 

Staff from across the council

The team, made up of around 40 staff from across council departments such as Adult and Social Care and Justice, have stepped up to take on the important work of supporting Midlothian’s most vulnerable residents – an essential part of the response through this pandemic. 

Protecting the most vulnerable

Shielding is designed to protect those extremely clinically vulnerable individuals by minimising all interaction between them and others to protect them from coming into contact with the COVID-19 virus.

Getting residents the support they need

Staff have been completing COVID-19 assessments with residents either over the phone or, in certain circumstances on the doorstep to make sure they get the support they need.  That could simply be delivering food parcels, collecting medication, or offering a welcome ear to talk to, but sometimes goes much further.

Help with other challenges

Anthony Neri, one of the shielding team, a student social worker explains: “Often additional areas of need present themselves during the course of our assessment.

“Shielding is often the first time residents have engaged with local authority services and so we are able to help them with challenges in their life that had previously gone unnoticed. We have referred people to support from the children and families service, mental health, domestic abuse, carer stress or welfare and financial support services.

Remove common misconceptions

“Our role has given us an opportunity to promote the social work profession in a more positive light, to remove common misconceptions and show we can be approachable, effective and empathetic.”

No two days the same   

Caroline King, a social work student, has also shared her experience of being part of the team: “Having completed a placement at Midlothian last year, I was happy to receive the call to come on board.  I have loved every moment - I enjoy talking to people and it definitely seems we have made a difference.  No two days have been the same, with all sorts of interesting enquiries.

“Many local residents have told me that “I have made their day”, that they appreciate the hard work and are very grateful they have not been forgotten.”

Appreciated by shielding residents

One such resident is Nigel Richard, who has just recently returned home from shielding in Thailand with his wife. Mr Richard said: “The service in Midlothian has been very quick and efficient. I literally just called the council to inform them I was home and here you are, amazing service.”

Proud of the team

Alison White, Head of Adult and Social Care, said: “I am very proud of what the shielding team in Midlothian have achieved.  We got up and running quickly and have rallied round residents in their time of need to provide both a sympathetic ear and practical support.  Thank you to the whole team, and to the residents for their kind words of thanks, it has meant a lot to all of us.”

Contact the shielding team

Residents who would like more information about help while shielding can call the contact centre on 0131 270 7500 or email [email protected]  

17 Jul 2020