Welcome to the new year. We can but hope that 2021 brings with it more opportunities and choices than the previous year.
2020 wasn’t all bad – my dog loved it! Gordon’s year consisted of a morning walk, breakfast, sleep, mid-day walk, sleep, dinner, evening run, sleep … repeat. There was a lot of pats, lots of meeting the neighbourhood dogs and lots of exploring new places.
My other 2020 highlights included the ranting Italian mayors yelling at their citizens to be safe, the random acts of kindness of people helping out – like the man who set up a grocery store at home so mother (who has dementia) could continue her usual routine. Then there was the person who went into a toy store in Brisbane and paid off all the lay-by debts ($16,000) in time for Christmas. The applause of health care workers at the end of their shifts in Spain; the singing in the streets in Italy; the distanced street dancing in England and the driveway ANZAC remembrance in Victoria.
2020 was a year where we discovered Zoom as a tool of connection. We had a 90th birthday and Christmas that zoomed family in Hong Kong and Queensland to include them in the celebration. Netflix did well; many discovered Schitt’s Creek as the best redemptive ‘hero’s journey’ tale ever told. We saw some hope for the future; South Australia was totally powered by solar energy for 24 hours. Then, a few days later 24 hours totally powered by wind turbines!
Adapt and Overcome
At IOE we witnessed the great work of our support workers continuing throughout the restrictions – dressed in their PPE space suits, their commitment and willingness to support families eased the challenges for many. We had our frequent flyers who flew to Orlando only to have the pandemic announced the day they left. They had a one day holiday then another flight back. Our group based programs ceased and the capacity to morph the service to provide connection with peers on line was a great achievement. We brought ‘rec-in-a-box’ packs, live music, Dungeons and Dragons and more into family homes. We witnessed leadership. Through coordinators supporting workers and families to navigate the challenges of COVID-19, to team leaders ensuring regular communication and connection with all team members and teams coming up with new ideas and ways to support people and families.
The Year Ahead
So to 2021 and whilst the world news to date hasn’t been great, we can but hope that we continue to achieve and enjoy whatever the year brings. There is hope that corrupt, racist, populist right wing governments have had their day; that there are more leaders that take responsibility rather than blame others; and that the essence of humanity (kindness, fairness and justice) continues to rise above the selfish, blame based culture that has been so much part of the mainstream discourse.
At IOE we are looking to start the year with a return to some group based services. Our camps and recreation groups are back, we are planning for activities – adult day service, Family Camps, sibling support, carer support groups, etc. all to return, albeit under the guidelines of COVID Normal. We may have to wait a little longer for all services to return but the anticipation will bring greater satisfaction!
2021 will bring what it brings. We will adjust, adapt and continue to focus on what we do … sort of exciting really!