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Emotional and wellbeing support for students

The Rainbow Garden at National Star at Ullenwood
Coping with feelings of anxiety is something that many of us have had to deal with during the coronavirus pandemic.

For young people with complex disabilities, who take comfort in routines in their lives, the uncertainty of how the pandemic was going to unfold has posed significant challenges.

The lockdowns, and the need to shield or self–isolate, has meant students have been unable to go out and about. The restrictions in freedom of movement have been difficult to bear.

Residential staff, supported by our Emotional Wellbeing team, anticipated that many students would react negatively to seeing their support team wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Therefore sensory stories were created around PPE so students could touch, smell and try on many of the items themselves, so the equipment was less alien to them.

Our Emotional Wellbeing Service, including a clinical psychologist and a team of positive behavioural support practitioners, have worked with colleagues to help students and residents better understand what is happening. An ‘Emotional Wellbeing Toolkit’ was produced as a creative resource to help students express their frustrations and feelings.

Staff also worked with those with additional communication needs so they had a range of symbol–based systems and coronavirus–specific vocabulary on their communication devices to enable them to talk about coronavirus.

We’ve made full use of our calming sensory spaces, including our delightful Rainbow Garden, and have continued to deliver dramatherapy, music therapy and talking therapies.

‘The way students have adapted to the ever–changing circumstances created by the virus is remarkable and, now more than ever, their courage and resilience should be celebrated,’ said Andrew Wickson, Emotional Wellbeing Service Team Leader.

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