Keeping the home ties strong is one important way that Phoenix Futures keeps their residents\u2019 motivation high, says Liam Ward Aligned with government guidance \u2013 and as with other registered care homes \u2013 our residents are currently unable to receive visits from their loved ones. We know that these connections are really important; in a recent study, more than 60 per cent of our residents told us that repairing relationships with loved ones is one of the most important and motivating factors behind their recovery. Evidence confirms that visits are conducive to improved outcomes throughout treatment and emphasises how a regular structure of contact with loved ones can provide a welcome balance to the hard work required throughout residential treatment. COVID-19 COVID-19 has meant that elements within our programme have had to be adapted to ensure the continued safety of everyone in our care. Without visits we wanted to ensure we supported our residents to keep connected with their loved ones, and our services have certainly done that! Access to WhatsApp, FaceTime and Skype video calling software has been increased as well as the availability of the service telephone and, where appropriate, residents\u2019 own personal devices too. Additional time is given for those wishing to contact families and children. Further to this, services are being innovative and finding ways to keep families updated, connected and reassured that their loved ones are being cared for. Our Wirral Residential\u2019s choir has been singing and sharing videos on social media, including their closed community group on Facebook. This has allowed family members to watch their loved ones looking well and enjoying activities. Family members commented that it was amazing, and that they were proud. They also said how good it was to see them doing so well. The residential community responded by creating video messages that were shared, and in turn received heart-warming and motivating messages such as \u2018you\u2019re doing great\u2019, \u2018love and miss you\u2019 and \u2018keep up the good work\u2019, which were passed onto them by staff. Sense of achievement Lee B has been with us in our Wirral Residential since January and told me how he FaceTimes his son twice a week but misses having visits. \u2018I can\u2019t wait for the restrictions to be lifted so he, my mum and my nan can come,\u2019 he said. \u2018They\u2019ve been going on the Facebook site and writing comments. It makes me feel really proud of myself. It gives a sense of achievement and reminds me why I\u2019m here.\u2019 I asked how Lee felt after hearing from his family. \u2018I feel sad for a short time because I\u2019m missing them,\u2019 he said. \u2018But after I reflect on it, reflect on the reasons I\u2019m here, it makes me feel good seeing them smile and feeling like I\u2019m achieving something with my life. \u2018If I was still out there, I\u2019d be dead,\u2019 he added. \u2018I used to be isolated, I suffered from anxiety, I was paranoid. I would have spiralled. I was out of control. Now I\u2019m healthier. I\u2019ve got colour back in my skin and colour back in my life.\u2019 Lee A was admitted in late March after the lockdown had been announced by the government. He spoke about his initial feelings upon entering rehab during this time, and spending his first few days separate from the community as part of our screening process for new admissions. \u2018It was the way it had to be,\u2019 he said. \u2018I had company with the other new admissions, and we all kept a social distance. Staff were fantastic. They kept us engaged, kept us entertained. When that was over I was excited to go into my first meeting, but I hadn\u2019t mentally prepared myself. The community were so welcoming and understanding though, I warmed to everybody.\u2019 Lee A went on to discuss his relationship with his family, and his feelings around being away from them. \u2018I hear from my mother, my grandparents and my sister about two or three times a week. It\u2019s strange for me to hear them say things about me like \u201cI\u2019m proud\u201d or \u201cwell done\u201d. I pushed these people to the ends of their tethers. It\u2019s been hard to explain to people what I\u2019m feeling, but here (in rehab) we can all relate to each other. \u2018Yes, I want to see them, but we all respect the rules, it\u2019s for our safety and for others. we were selfish, we didn\u2019t care, but now we feel empathy, we worry about other people,\u2019 he said. \u2018Now more than ever we understand these rules, we don\u2019t want to hurt anybody. It\u2019s beautiful to have that part of us back, something missing all those years.\u2019 Lee A continued \u2018My family notice a difference in me. They hear it over the phone. I didn\u2019t make sense in the past when I spoke. I\u2019d go too fast and lose my point but now I\u2019m concise and well mannered, I have confidence in my voice. My family have told me it\u2019s lovely.\u2019 'We're in the best place' Dave C arrived with us in December. He spoke about those he misses most and gave his thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on his and their lives. \u2018It\u2019s been tough because my mother has no immune system. She visited me before the lockdown. I can\u2019t help worrying it was the last time I\u2019m going to see her. It\u2019s always in the back of my mind.\u2019 Dave speaks on the phone to his mother several times a week, as well as other members of his family, who keep him abreast of their activity \u2013 or lack of it, in some cases. \u2018People outside are bored. We\u2019re in the best place because we\u2019ve got the community. The boredom can\u2019t set in,\u2019 he said. \u2018I love being here. It\u2019s one big happy family.\u2019 Dave went on to speak about the impact of the staff team on his experience whilst being in rehab, particularly at this difficult time. \u2018The staff are fantastic. What they\u2019ve done for us is above and beyond. Loads of services are closed down and can\u2019t take admissions. They\u2019re a fantastic bunch of people. After I leave, I want to get my health and social care education. I want to be part of this team.\u2019 His feelings were echoed by his peers. \u2018I\u2019m so grateful to the staff here. They\u2019re doing everything they can \u2013 putting on activities for us, making plans for families to visit once restrictions are lifted. I respect them for putting their lives at risk,\u2019 said Lee B. 'I speak to my family every night' David F, a resident at our Scottish Residential service in Glasgow, added, \u2018Staff have been brilliant. They\u2019re worse off than us out there. They\u2019re out there on their days off, some of them alone, then they come in and they\u2019re positive, encouraging and determined.\u2019 David is the most senior member of the community in Glasgow, having been with us since September 2019. As a result, he is looked to as a role model for other residents and is allowed certain privileges to reflect his progress. One is more regular access to his phone, which he uses to call his family. \u2018Before treatment, communication with family was terrible. They\u2019ve always been supportive, but we never really talked. Now I speak to different members of my family every night. I speak to my mum, my aunt, my daughter, and even my brother who lives in Australia,\u2019 he said. \u2018They tell me it\u2019s hard, but they don\u2019t tell me how they\u2019re feeling. They might have a sense of making me feel like I need to go. They tell me a bit but just encourage me mostly.\u2019 David went on to reflect on his feelings towards the current situation around coronavirus, and the effect it has had on him and his programme. \u2018We get updates on how it\u2019s going on, but because we aren\u2019t out there and experiencing it I think we\u2019re a little sheltered, so maybe we don\u2019t realise the gravity of the effect on the rest of the world. We see it on the news but we\u2019re not living it. I was going on home visits before all of this and having face-to-face contact. My mum was coming to family support groups. Even though that\u2019s been taken away, I\u2019m trying to take a positive out of it. It\u2019s time to build up more strength and have more chance of recovery.\u2019 Across the country, the feelings in our services follow a consistent thread. Times are hard, but those with us are in a safe place and are supported by others in their residential communities. There is a tremendous sense of cohesion and unity between those in treatment and the dedicated staff teams supporting them. Dave C likened the feeling to the mantra of his beloved football team, Liverpool \u2013 \u2018This means more\u2019. \u2018It runs through this house,\u2019 he said. \u2018You can see it in the faces of all these amazing people around you.