At a distance, but close to you

Countries

Romania

Policy areas

Organisation name 6th District General Directorate for Social Care and Child Protection

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Contact person: Mihaela Dragoi, Head of Communication Office

Special Recognition of responding to the COVID-19 crisis:

The leading organisation of this project is a Day Recovery Centre for Children with Disabilities. For this institute, Orșova, at the 6th District General Directorate for Social Care and Child Protection, the breakout of the pandemic and the consequent social distancing was unknown terrain. This has been explored and used very little in the past, as an alternative weekend activity or an auxiliary to the classic type of treatment. The specialists within the department had to develop a new methodology and new working tool to continue the therapeutic programme for the children through online communication, within a programme entitled ‘At a distance, but close to you’.

The new situation created by the pandemic has made children, parents and the staff of the centre face new challenges. The biggest one was the prevention of regressions and overcoming the obstacles generated by the relative isolation of the child in the family. Several ways of interaction and intervention were urgently outlined and made even more pressing by the reactions and preoccupation of the parents and the specialists. The goal was to continue the activity in the centre and minimise the negative effects of isolation and interruption of in-presence activity. It required online interventions and sessions, creation of tools outside the usual standards, new approaches for communication with children and a new member of the team: the family of the child. Phone, email and programs such as WhatsApp or Zoom have brought beneficiaries and specialists closer to each other.

All these were put into practice as an innovation, on the basis of a plan with concrete objectives and activities, including the component of monitoring and analysis of results. Specifically, the reorganisation of the therapeutic activity in a new environment – the homes of the children involved – was put into practice through means of distance communication: new individualised intervention plans were designed for each child, depending on the specific situation; weekly activities and recommendations were drawn up for parents together with the children; all activities were videotaped and transmitted to the specialists who performed the analysis of the videos and, in general, gave the feedback to parents and children. The transmission of written materials was made through the same means of communication – audio or video sent to the parents – with physical exercises to improve coordination, concentration and body awareness. Digital communication platforms have made the live intervention of specialists in therapeutic activity possible.

Teamworking and trust were essential in the smooth running of this programme. A new and closer collaboration has been established between specialists, in the implementation team and between specialists and families.

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