In Devon, we provide support services for people who require additional help to live independently within the community. These customers have a range of needs, some with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues ranging from mild to severe. Continuing to support them during the coronavirus outbreak has meant a different way of working for our support team.

Technology has been embraced by our colleagues and customers at a rapid pace. Video calls have replaced visits for face to face conversations – sometimes the only communication our customers have from anyone in a day. We’ve helped customers set up online shopping accounts so they can have their shopping delivered while isolating and we’ve been gardening over FaceTime, showing them how to plant vegetables and keep up with weeding.

Julie Harvey, Specialist Support Senior, said: “Social distancing, self-isolation and government guidance means how we continue to support our customers has changed. It has been a challenging time, but we’ve managed to find ways to help during lockdown that will also shape the future of our support services.”

We’ve received lots of feedback from our customers and their families. One customer said: “Talking to me twice a day every day is helping me through this nasty thing. It makes me feel happy and safe. I know I have calls to look forward to. I would not cope if you did not call me.”

The parents of one of our customers contacted us recently to say: “The FaceTime contact is excellent. My daughter is away from home and, because of her Autism, doesn’t understand social distancing. This means your contact is consistent and she is learning new and different things than what she would if normal support was being delivered. If contact had been broken I don’t know how I would have coped, especially to get her back home. ”

Sometimes, it’s the simple things like picking up the phone for a chat, which can make all the difference to a person’s health. At Magna, we put the customer at the heart of everything we do.