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A COUNCILLOR has asked what extra mental health support is available after revealing she is aware of vulnerable women who tried to kill themselves during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Cllr Yvonne Jardine was speaking at a Swansea Council adult services meeting, with a 17-day lockdown looming in Wales to curb the spread of the disease.

Referring to a particular group of women, Cllr Jardine said: “They are saying they can’t have lockdown again.

“Several of them tried to commit suicide during the last lockdown.

“So this time, I’m quite fearful for them and so are they fearful for themselves.”

Amy Hawkins, interim head of adult services, said the community mental health team was checking on individuals and that there was also support from the third sector.

She added that another group was working on a regional mental health strategy.

“We know we are going to have a mental health curve straight afterwards, or it’s happening already,” she said.

The adult services team has been reorganised to deal with the ongoing pandemic, with two additional domiciliary care companies hired and ongoing recruitment for vacant council posts.

The idea is to build capacity in the event of what Mrs Hawkins described as a “super surge” in demand. Should this happen, she said, a temporary seven-day working rota would be introduced.

Social services director Dave Howes said the needs of some people the council helped had become more complex since the first lockdown, partly because hospitals focused so heavily on Covid-19 and not on routine care.

“They are saying, ‘We can’t manage – we are absolutely dependent on this (support)’,” he said.

Mrs Hawkins said some people had been coping “just about” for the last six months, but that some of those who had been shielding for a long time were “de-conditioning in terms of fitness”.

Mr Howes said the workforce was “responding magnificently”.

But he added: “They are exhausted as well. The system is not breaking, but it’s creaking and there are tougher times to come.”

Councillors at the scrutiny meeting asked questions of the duo, including Cllr Paxton Hood-Williams, who wanted to know if the authority was satisfied that elderly people leaving hospital but still in need of care were tested for Covid-19.

This issue was thrust into the spotlight from April onwards as the virus caused numerous care home deaths in the UK.

Mr Howes said hospital patients being discharged into a care home or other “closed setting” now had to have a negative test.

The same was true of patients who were going home but starting or resuming a package of domiciliary care support.

Mr Howes said this process had an impact on delayed transfers of care from health to social services, but he also said it was safe discharge planning.

“We were really worried about that absence of testing first time round,” he said.

“As a society we were not on top of that, not just here but everywhere. We are really on top of that now.”

If you need mental health support, phone Swansea-based SCVS on 01792 544000 for a range of services. You can also contact Samaritans free at any time on 116 123.

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