I have visited many projects and events during my thirty years as Patron of Sense and Sense International. From my involvement, I know that living with deafblindness or complex disabilities can be extremely challenging.
Since Sense was established 65 years ago, the organisation has led the way in pioneering ground breaking and unique ways to target its support for children and adults. Finding ways to support people to communicate is fundamental to your work and I know you have developed highly skilled approaches to help people to live lives to the full and as independent as possible.
Communication remains at the heart of your work and taking the time to understand and respond to a person’s preferred ways of communicating whether this is sign, gesture or behaviour is critical. Of course, touch remains a key method of communication to help people connect with one another.
This is my reason for writing to the front line staff at Sense at this unprecedented and most challenging period that we face not only as a nation but across the world. I know that many of the people that Sense supports require intensive and 24-hour support, 7 days a week. I also understand that there are families who are isolating and can’t visit their adult sons and daughters in homes. It must be so unsettling to be distant from them. Individuals must struggle to understand why they are separate from their families. I know Sense is looking at innovative ways of using technology to help break down those barriers.
Many of the children and adults you support must thrive on routine and structure. Without this, I understand that they may exhibit more behaviour that challenges; indeed, people’s needs must be increasing during these difficult times.
I know how important Sense’s front line staff are to the organisation, and how skilled and resilient you all are, putting the care and support of others first and working tirelessly across the country. Everything is stretched at the moment. I want to extend my gratitude for everything you are doing both now, and in the next weeks and months to come.