People all around the world are dealing with the uncertainty and isolation that are beginning to be our new normal. Even as we slowly start to understand our new reality and some restrictions are even being eased, many people are still finding it very difficult to adjust. Some of the most vulnerable populations are people with cognitive development challenges. Changes to regular schedules and activities and disruption of regular contacts, can lead to very difficult moments and regression.
Understanding that community integration for people with developmental challenges has been temporarily halted and that being isolated in a home environment without regular friends and professional support can create even more difficulties, the Shekel organization established an emergency response line.
With the support of the Jerusalem Foundation emergency Corona response fund, a dedicated “hot line” was established in the first days of the country wide shut down. The line is operated by the staff of the Shekel Association Treatment Centers and is supported by specialized experts in rehabilitative psychology with experience in therapeutic work with people with cognitive challenges.
Professional Training for on-line staff is provided by those who have been trained in trauma-focused therapy. The hot line provides telephone or video response with the help of Whatsapp software which is widely available and easy to operate and does not require any special downloaded program for use. Support is provided for mental distress, explanations about maintaining hygiene, connecting and coordinating with other welfare or assistance agencies and additional help with activities that help deal with anxiety and professional guidance on an individual basis. The hot line operates in Hebrew, English and Arabic. In 3 weeks of activity the hot line has helped over 500 people and the calls and inquiries continue to increase daily.