5 steps to Health and Well-being during social isolation
We’re all familiar with the 5 steps to health and well-being: Learn; Take notice; Connect; Give, and Be active: in the past, TPAS Cymru has suggested ways of incorporating these steps into Tenant/Community Involvement activities.
Considering the ongoing Corona virus these 5 steps are potentially more important than ever. At TPAS Cymru we’ve got some suggestions about how you can adapt these 5 steps to health and well-being for use during these challenging times to offer remote involvement methods for tenants and residents.
Continued learning throughout our lives can help tackle isolation and depression and, can improve self-esteem. There’s also evidence that the practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning, can be associated with higher levels of well-being.
You can share learning via the internet or traditional post! Here are some examples of plain language information you could share with tenants:
How landlords are adjusting their services to support tenants during the current crisis;
What support is available to tenants who are vulnerable and how to access these services;
What the plans are for protecting tenants and staff if repairs need to be carried while the current social distancing rules are in force?
What the procedures will be for gas fire checking etc.
For tenants who are already actively involved, or for others who want to become involved during the current times, you could offer basic/refresher courses about Tenant Involvement; An overview of social housing; and How your organisation is ‘run’. These can be conducted via Skype or Zoom or could be sent as paper documents if that is the preferred medium. A basic quiz could follow-on from these courses using different mediums, to help consolidate learning.
Many landlords have already made arrangements for existing groups to continue meeting via Skype etc in order to keep contact, group momentum and to continue learning.
Another option is to post or email documents to tenants for proof-reading; asking them to consider if the documents are easy to understand/use plain language etc? This desk-top/home audit could also be a method of involving new tenants who may often offer a different or new perspective.
And don’t forget the phone! Lots of landlords are carrying out ‘welfare’ calls with their tenants who may be vulnerable or isolated: these contact calls can also be used to encourage tenants to ‘become involved’ remotely. Ask their opinion about services generally and what their priorities are. You can offer them the opportunity to learn more about their landlord and the difference good tenant involvement can and has made. (Tenants can be reassured that they don’t have to commit to longer-term involvement if they don’t want to!)
What does it mean to ‘take notice’? It’s about being more aware of your surroundings and what is happening ‘at this moment’. Again, research suggests this can help your well-being and give you a chance to re-look at your priorities in general. So ….how can we adapt this to involvement that’s being done remotely? For the more involved tenants taking notice could be about ‘tidying’ their paperwork! It may sound daunting but it’s therapeutic to sort through handouts and paperwork you’ve gathered over the years! Some of it may be out of date or duplicated but you can use the time to ‘tidy´ and put papers in order! This can be a way of keeping active, and re-reading documents as you’re tidying may also help with the ‘learn’ step and remind you of something you’d forgotten about!
Taking notice can also be about looking or listening in a different way: e.g. really listening to what other people are saying! We’re often guilty of only hearing what we want to hear and only ‘half listening’ to other people! This can be true if you’re a member of a long-standing group where we often ‘make assumptions’ about what other group members will say! Finally, we’ve all been guilty of ‘listening’ to others while we’re really thinking about what we want to say or ask next! Try looking at your team from a different perspective!
For non-involved tenants the taking notice can be using every contact you have with them, via phone, post or electronically as an opportunity for them to ‘take notice’ of their landlord and the services it offers. The very act of being in contact with them during this crisis offers them an opportunity to ‘take notice’ although they may not realise it.
Give and Connect
Now, more than ever, being kind to one another is really important! Evidence shows that carrying out an act of kindness once a week is linked to an increase in wellbeing. Social isolation means it’s not possible to participate in social activities, but you could use this opportunity to connect via phone or email with other tenants you may know from your focus or community group and have contact details for. Some groups will meet virtually when technology allows. Picking up the phone to talk to someone is a way of ‘giving’ and ‘connecting’
Connecting can also mean practicing ‘active listening’: that means that you really listen to what someone is saying to you when they talk to you like ‘take notice’ above. That way you’re ‘giving’ your time, connecting and taking notice!
As landlords you’ll probably already be giving to and connecting with your tenants in a new and more regular way, especially if they’re considered vulnerable. Each time you do this you’re providing an important service to tenants and completing the steps to their (and your!) health and well-being.
This is all relative, and particularly challenging during the current lock-down! Although regular physical activity is linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety, it doesn’t mean that you must run a marathon to be active! For people with mobility issues keeping active may be about armchair or gentle stretching exercises or getting up occasionally to walk from their chair to the other side of the room.
From an involvement perspective it could be that keeping active involves suggesting some easy exercises for tenants to do in their home: use your contacts with Health professionals to advise tenants of safe ways of staying active that are suitable for their personal circumstances.
So there you are……there are lots of over-laps in the methods discussed above, but generally it’s a reminder that at the moment involvement with tenants at all levels has the ability to maintain tenants health and wellbeing.