From practicing gratitude to morning meditation, Centacare staff found news ways to stay calm and client-focused amid the statewide circuit-breaker last week.

As South Australians were instructed to retreat to the familiarity of home, essential workers stayed put on the frontlines of community services to support those already grappling with complex issues.

Jess Sibley, a Family Support Worker, said the ever-present risk of COVID-19 magnified the cumulative effect of clients’ experiences, and demanded a new approach in service delivery.

“It’s challenging, as we need to think of new ways to engage and build rapport with clients, while also supporting them to feel safe and secure during these uncertain times,’’ said Jess, who splits her time between Coolock House and Louise Place.

Located at Morphett Vale and Fullarton respectively, the services provide 24-hour accommodation and support to young women who are pregnant or parenting. They have remained open throughout the health pandemic.

“Often, we are looked upon for answers and support when we struggle ourselves to understand the complexities that surround us as workers and individuals,’’ Jess said.

Young Family Support Program Team Leader Tarnia Parker (pictured), also based at Louise Place, said it was important to acknowledge the selflessness of staff across community services.

“While some of us have the flexibility to work from home, reducing our risks to ourselves and our families, these dedicated workers continue to have contact with the most vulnerable and transient client group, continuing Centacare’s genuine compassion and professional care,’’ she said.

Across town at Alban Place, Operations Manager Gabrielle Preston said staff had risen to the challenge and adapted quickly as needed. Centacare’s Integrated Youth Substance Misuse Specialist Service operates from the Stepney site, and provides care for young people aged 12 to 24 years with challenges around substance misuse.

“On Friday, prior to the great news of restrictions being eased, we attempted a morning meditation,’’ Gabrielle said “but we all got the giggles and agreed that laughter really was what we needed at that time!’’

Gabrielle said, even in the grip of COVID-19, there was much to be grateful for: “… living in Adelaide, working where we do – and, for cutting our travel time in half during our three days lockdown due to no traffic on the road!’’

In the north, Youth Case Worker Cathie McGoran said she felt a sense of calm at Carlow Place, despite chaotic scenes in shops and on the roads as the state rushed into a six-day lockdown last Wednesday.

Located at Elizabeth, Carlow Place provides emergency and 24-hour supported accommodation for eight young people aged 15 to 18 years who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

“All the young people coped really well,’’ Cathie said.

Of the four young people currently living at Carlow, three are new clients and one is a returning face.

“They have all settled in so well and are all getting along; it warms my heart to see them all supporting each other in these times,’’ Cathie said.