Weekday Wow Factor works to connect people of all ages and abilities across Greater Glasgow. Their aims are to; reduce loneliness, isolation, health inequalities and ageism. They do this by hosting activities such as daytime discos, murder mystery lunches and zip-sliding!
The restrictions caused by COVID-19 mean that initiatives to help people stay connected are more important than ever. Many of Weekday Wow Factor’s clients have limited knowledge of technology, but the service was able to quickly move online by being flexible and supportive.
Director of Weekday Wow Factor, Pasna Sallis, started the shift to digital by using Whatsapp to call her clients. She chose Whatsapp as many of her clients were already familiar with it. Using voice calls, she talked people through the process of switching on their video cameras and then shifted to Skype. By taking small steps and listening to her clients, she was able to recreate her daytime discos remotely.
Whatsapp is an application for text, voice and video messaging. It can host group calls of up to 4 users. Weekday Wow Factor called their clients on Whatsapp to talk them through joining a group call on Skype.
Whatsapp is widely used, so it has low barriers to entry.
It has some security through end-to-end encryption.
Skype is an application for text, voice and video messaging. It can host group calls of up to 50 users. Weekday Wow Factor hosts daytime discos on Skype.
Skype is widely used, so it has low barriers to entry.
1. Start where your users are and gradually introduce new skills
It would have been difficult for Weekday Wow Factor’s clients to start joining group Skype calls immediately. Instead, they made voice calls over Whatsapp, an app many of the clients were familiar with. Over the phone, Pasna talked clients through the steps to switching on their video camera as well as how to hold the phone out in front of their face.
2. Adapt health and safety, data protection and safeguarding approaches
Clients can use text, email, Whatsapp or Messenger to confirm that they agree to the terms and conditions of the Daytime Discos.
4. Provide a supportive environment to practice
The group moved onto Skype so that they could have bigger group calls. They chose Skype as this was a platform that clients had heard of so were more comfortable with. Pasna started by practising using the tool herself, then making 1-to-1 calls to clients. They held group calls to practise using the tool for a week.
There was a lot of trial and error in these calls, and as most people were home alone, they needed to work things out by themselves. Creating a light hearted atmosphere meant people felt comfortable giving things a go with the potential of getting it wrong.
5. Introduce the activity once people are comfortable with the tool
Once the participants are comfortable using the tool, begin introducing the activities and adding new skills. For Weekday Wow Factor, once the dancing started on Skype, it became clear that camera position was the next skill for participants to focus on.
6. Respond to what isn’t working
Two new issues were identified. Skype kept cutting out and skipping parts of the music, particularly on Monday mornings; and the regular time of 11am didn’t work well in people’s new daily routines.
Pasna went back to her WhatsApp group to discuss changes. Her clients were keen to trial 5pm instead. This solved both issues, as the broadband connection seemed better and the clients preferred the 5pm slot due to their daytime activities.
Service delivery was changing quickly and adapting daily. Pasna wanted to regularly check that her Directors and Clinical Line Manager were in agreement with service delivery changes. She needed to find a quick simple method to get information to them. WhatsApp was again the easiest platform, as they were already all using it. She could get their approval back within minutes of suggesting new ideas.
Encourage new ideas
The service has continued to develop, again with clients at the heart of suggesting new ideas such an introductory chat at the start of each session to discuss problems or worries, as well as fun highlights.
Trial and error is key
Moving the activities online had plenty of snags and because participants were isolated at home, they had to work things out for themselves. Weekday Wow Factor managed this by creating a safe learning environment and paying attention to what was working and changing what wasn’t.
As activities are taking place in peoples’ homes, there’s a risk of trip hazards or people not using their walking aids. The updated terms and conditions emphasise the need to check for hazards, wear non slip footwear and use prescribed walking aids.
Clients without internet access or very basic digital skills would be unable to join in the activity. It is worth considering how to reach these people and make activities more inclusive.
Points of contact
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Many thanks to Weekday Wow Factor for contributing this recipe.
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