Almost half of the veterans we support say the events of this year have left them struggling with anxiety and their sleep. At a time when they’ve needed us more than ever, there’s been the additional challenge of our teams being unable to deliver face to face support, with our recovery centres still closed.
Alex Lovett is our Occupational Therapist, who works with our wounded to help them find practical ways to overcome the limitations of illness or injury. At our Tedworth House recovery centre where Alex is normally based, veterans struggling with their sleep often make use of our sensory room to help them improve their relaxation skills, and Alex also runs special groups designed to help those with sleep disorders.
With the lockdown measures putting all face-to-face activity like this on hold, Alex had to work fast to put online support options in place – delivering therapy virtually and over the phone to help veterans with some of the issues they were finding hardest to deal with.
“During the lockdown, loss of routine became a big issue. Without routine, it’s easy to slip into poor habits – which makes everything suffer. This year sleep problems, which can worsen physical and mental health, have increased for nearly half of our veterans,” explains Alex.
“Our recent survey found that 42% of veterans were struggling with sleep as a result of the lockdown. It’s been a big issue and so it was important to continue to offer something, even if that looked different to what was available before lockdown.
“The remote service we’ve set up to help veterans with their sleep issues has been well received. There have been some challenges – it’s harder to read body language through a screen. But veterans have adapted really well to the changes. Even those who struggle with technology have been getting the hang of it and we all experienced the odd technological challenge so people are very understanding!”
Alex is now exploring ways she can continue to run a safe and accessible service, by offering both remote and face-to-face options.
“Our veterans need us more than ever. Lockdown has caused a huge amount of distress, and anxiety has prevented many from visiting their doctors. Because of this, it’s likely we’ll see a rise in previously unreported physical and mental health concerns,” she says.