Virtual Communities

Our Clubhouse buildings are closed. Our Clubhouse community is open.

Click on the links below to view and download a compilation of Tips & Suggestions for dealing with COVID-19; implementing a Virtual Clubhouse Community; and maintaining your Clubhouse, which have been gathered from our global community of Clubhouses, Clubhouse Coalitions and Training Bases. We have incorporated all of these suggestions into this web page, and will continue to update you with new strategies as we move ahead into this unknown terrain of this ‘new normal.’

As our international Clubhouse community responds to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Clubhouses are now adjusting to the reality of having to operate as ‘virtual’ Clubhouse communities. Clubhouse International has been in communication with our International Training Bases and with many Clubhouses around the world. We have been learning about how they are creating systems to ensure that their members still have the critical supports of belonging to a Clubhouse, even as they are not able to gather together in their Clubhouse buildings.

We have always said that Clubhouses are communities, rather than simply being mental health ‘programs.’ Now we are learning just how true this is. Clubhouse resiliency, innovation, passion and dedication have quickly led to an inspiring array of strategies and solutions to address the new reality. Members and staff may no longer being able to gather together inside their Clubhouse buildings, but they have shown that they will continue to support each other through this crisis. We are deeply moved and awed by the extraordinary level of care and connection that continues to hold Clubhouse communities together, despite the severe restrictions regarding physical togetherness.

Our international Clubhouse community should take a moment to reflect on this phenomenon. We should be aware that, as a Clubhouse community, we have succeeded in creating a network of human connectedness and unconditional support that is almost unheard of in today’s society. Even in the uncertainty and anxiety of these days, this is something we should all understand, and celebrate.

Rather than implementing ‘social distancing,’ as our governments have suggested to us, Clubhouse communities have chosen to implement a system of ‘physical distancing.’ And in spite of this physical distancing, we are finding creative ways to remain socially engaged with each other.

Below, you will find a compilation of suggestions for implementing a Virtual Clubhouse, gathered from many Clubhouses, coalitions, and our Training Bases. As it looks as if this situation may continue for some time, we will continue to update you with new strategies as we move ahead into this unknown terrain of this ‘new normal.’

It is also important to note that even amid all the anxiety and chaos of this moment, Clubhouses have identified some bright spots. Here are a few:

Clubhouse community is about getting to know one other as whole human beings. Our work-ordered day, Transitional Employment, and social program have established a framework in which staff and members develop multi-dimensional relationships. As we move into this new dimension of ‘virtual’ Clubhouse connectedness, we will have the opportunity to further deepen and broaden the ways in which we know each other as human beings.

With the temporary reduction of daily Clubhouse tasks until we are organized with a new kind of workday, staff and members can take advantage of the extra time we now have to engage in longer conversations than we might have had in a typical busy Clubhouse workday. Clubhouse relationships have the opportunity to grow stronger, deeper, and richer as a result of this pandemic.

The following is a compilation of strategies and suggestions from Clubhouses around the world, as they begin to operate as Clubhouse communities ‘without walls.’ These ideas are from Clubhouses with a wide range of different circumstances, in different countries, of varying sizes. Although not all of the ideas in this document will be relevant for all Clubhouses, we hope that your Clubhouse will be able to find some suggestions that will be helpful for the unique needs of your Clubhouse community.

We have organized this document loosely according to the overall headings of:

MAINTAINING COMMUNITY
  • NEW! Clubhouses are stressing the importance of maintaining a daily structure, for both staff and members. Some Clubhouses are asking staff and members to establish goals for themselves for each day, and then report in on how they have done with those.
  • NEW! Establish house and/or unit meetings, via conference call or online platform (Zoom or WebEx can be accessed through the internet or by phone), preferably twice daily, in the morning and afternoon.
  • NEW! Put your weekly schedule of calls and meetings on your webpage and FB page. Include the links and/or dial-up information for each call. Clubhouse weekly meeting schedules can include: daily (or twice daily) all-house community meetings; individual unit meetings; health and wellness updates; education and employment meetings; young adult meet-ups; DRA meetings, etc.
  • Create small ‘reach-out families’ consisting of one staff and a small group of members. Askthat each member of each reach-out family to contact each other person in the cluster on a daily basis(whether by phone, text, email, or any other form of communication).
  • Reducing stress levels is an important way to boost our immune systems. Relaxed, daily conversations with members and staff can be helpful to one’s overall health.
  • Create a Clubhouse warm-line with established hours that all members know they can access.
  • Consider expanding the hours of current warm-lines.
  • Most Clubhouses are establishing once or twice daily tele-conference or video-conference calls for the whole community. This is a substitute for daily house meetings or unit meetings.
  • Some Clubhouses are having Virtual Lunch together, where members and staff join via internetaccess or just uploading pictures of their lunch to the Clubhouse Facebook page.
  • Share a recipe with the whole Clubhouse community so that once per week everyone cooks the same meal at home and eats together at the same time. Share pictures of everyone’s version of the meal on the Clubhouse Facebook page or other social media.
  • Schedule a Facebook live session for an hour a day, at a particular time.
TECHNOLOGY
  • Zoom has a platform that is specifically created to be HIPAA compliant, for use in healthcare settings. The link for this platform is: https://zoom.us/healthcare
STAFF SCHEDULING AND ROLES
  • NEW! Lengthen the hours of operation of the Clubhouse so members can have greater access to support. This can be done by staggering staff hours, some to start earlier in the morning, and some to work into the evening hours.
  • Clubhouse staff roles are shifting from mostly site-based and unit-based activities to virtual engagement and reach-out responsibilities. Staff job descriptions are changing to reflect the need to stay in touch with members while practicing physical distancing. This includes continuing to engage members in meaningful work and daily routines along with needed community support services.
  • Clubhouses are finding that it is very important to maintain a daily schedule and structure. Staff should check in with each member to help them establish some kind of routine, and then help to provide the support for them to maintain that routine. Staff should develop dependable routines for their work and availability, so that everyone knows what they can count on from each other every day.
  • Many Clubhouses are staggering staff schedules so that some of the staff are onsite each day, and others are working from home. Some Clubhouses are doing two shifts per day, with some staff coming into the Clubhouse for the morning and others in the afternoon. While at the Clubhouse staff are busy with activities such as fielding telephone calls from members and responding to their needs, reach out logs and other recordkeeping, organizing plans for virtual Clubhouse work, keeping track of member contact information, grab-and go meal preparation, etc.
  • All staff join the teleconference or video morning meetings, whether they are working onsite or remotely. Some Clubhouses are also having staff initiate individual unit meetings by phone to coordinate supports for members and other specific unit work functions. Staff and members can organize and complete this work together in one-to-one or small group calls.
  • Some Clubhouses have created a separate Zoom (or other virtual meeting program) account for each staff, to allow frequent and ongoing contact with members.
  • All staff have one primary mission: reach out and engage. The plan is to reach out to every member, every day, unless a member communicates that he/she would prefer fewer contacts.
  • All staff are responsible for tracking reach out and communicating emerging needs of members, and facilitating effective and appropriate responses.
  • As you begin working ‘without walls,’ have staff call all active members and screen over the phone for symptoms, update emails, addresses, etc. Create a "script" to ensure that questions about food, transportation, meds, etc. are being asked. For those members that do not have working phone numbers, utilize their emergency contacts to make contact with the member.
  • Active membership is divided up amongst staff and it is the responsibility of every staff to contact those on their list every day to check in.
  • Additionally, staff can review the list of members who have become inactive in the last year and together with members can make reach-out calls/connections with all of them to check in on their health and wellbeing. Those who are interested should be welcomed back into active membership in the virtual Clubhouse effort.
  • Make sure that all staff have home computers and good WIFI connectivity. The Clubhouse should have a good video-conference capability that can be used remotely.
SPACE
  • If Clubhouses are preparing meals for delivery it is important to maintain at least six feet of physical distance from each other. Use masks and gloves if you have them. Wipe down and disinfect all surfaces, appliances, door handles, bathrooms, etc.
  • Take advantage of having the building almost empty to get carpets cleaned, floors waxed, lighting repaired, etc.
  • Avoid using the language stating that the Clubhouse is ‘closed.’ While the building may be closed, most Clubhouses are providing a wide array of services for their membership. It is important to articulate for members, families, other agencies, and funders, that the Clubhouse is indeed operating, albeit in a different fashion currently. Some Clubhouses have signs on the door stating that members can now access the virtual Clubhouse, providing phone and website contact information.
REACH-OUT
  • NEW! Deliver fresh flowers to members’ homes along with food deliveries.
  • NEW! Deliver books to member’s homes.
  • NEW! Members are saying they want to see the faces of others in their Clubhouse community, so one Clubhouse is creating Jib-Jab videos with people’s faces and sending them to their Clubhouse members and staff.
  • NEW! Clubhouses should check with their local phone and internet providers. Many providers are extending free and/or enhanced service during this time. This can be extremely important with no (or very limited) phone and/or internet service.
  • NEW! Have ‘reach out parties’ where a staff person conferences in one or two members who then can reach out to other members together.
  • Create reach-out ‘clusters’ consisting of one staff and a group of members. Ask that each person in each cluster gets in touch with the other members of their reach out cluster every day. Some members do not want to be part of that – but many do.
  • Develop a script or discussion outline for reach-out discussion to ensure that all the important topics are being considered (e.g. health and wellness, food security, money and budget, social connectedness, medication if applicable, appointments and schedules, safety, routines, etc.
  • Clubhouses are generally discouraging home visits, but will pre-arrange with members to drop packages of food/medication/essentials at the door. One Clubhouse calls this the ‘Clubhouse Door Dash.’
  • If members are in need of mental health crisis services, the Clubhouse will coordinate with providers and ensure there is a response. Clubhouses are expanding their systems of providing crisis support (e.g. expanded hours of availability for warm-lines, extra means of contacting staff, systematic reviews of each member’s current situation, etc.)
  • Ask each member for one positive thought or something good that has happened, each day, and post these on the Clubhouse webpage or Facebook page.
  • Check in with members about the needs of their pets.
HOUSE AND UNIT MEETINGS
  • NEW! Have a daily Facebook Live meeting at an established time. Staff and members take turns hosting. Members and staff provide updates on themselves, share employment news, engage in Clubhouse discussion, go over a Standard of the day, are provided with a virus update, and request any resources they may need.  Members without Facebook have the option to call in for the meeting or receive an email overview of the topics discussed.  All meetings can be saved to be viewed at a later time, if desired.
  • NEW! Click here to view a virtual white board unit meeting agenda, created to ensure that Clubhouse relationships remain “work-mediated,” in spite of the physical distancing. You can see that this agenda ensures side by side collaboration between staff and members throughout the meeting.
  • Schedule tele-conference or video-conference calls every day to retain a rhythm and daily Clubhouse schedule. For most Clubhouses, staff are required to participate and members are invited and encouraged. Many are using WEBEX or Zoom; some just using conference call capacity.
  • Have a standing agenda, which might include: a general check-in; updates (government public health announcements, local resources available, news about Clubhouse members and staff, news from Clubhouse International, etc.), information about local food pantries, subsidies, etc.
  • Meetings should be facilitated by members and staff and responsibilities for the agenda, notes and post meeting follow-up can be organized by members and staff together via email, telephone, Facetime, Skype, etc.). Virtual side-by-side methods of sharing work can be creatively developed.
  • Purchase and distribute disposable phones, or if possible, tablets, for members without access, to ensure everyone can participate. Some members may need a little financial help to extend their available minutes and data usage on their phones.

One Clubhouse notes: “It is AWESOME to hear/see each person as they join into the call. Each new person entering the call is met with a booming ‘HI!’ which creates a powerful bond of community.

VIRTUAL CLUBHOUSE (UNIT) WORK
  • NEW! Jobs from units can be discussed and assigned at the end of each meeting. For example, create a daily newsletter.
  • NEW!A member and staff team can be assigned to create an updated, accurate email database to send the daily newsletter to everyone before the morning meeting every day. Check out this example of a helpful newsletter during this ‘virtual Clubhouse’ time. Members and staff wrote the articles in partnership, and it includes listing of opportunities for Clubhouse connections including: book club, wellness challenge, and education club, as well as food resources and easy healthy recipes.
  • NEW! Discuss and sign up for cleaning jobs and then complete them at home. This helps everyone become motivated to keep our own home clean and tidy.  Then send pictures of completed jobs to post on Clubhouse site.
  • NEW! Have a virtual kitchen hygiene safety class so members and staff can become certified to work in kitchens.  Create food prep videos to share with your Clubhouse community. Have people send in pictures of their cooking endeavors to post on the Clubhouse Facebook page.
  • NEW! Create handmade cards to send to all active and inactive members, and staff. The cards can simply be ‘thinking about you’ messages to strengthen the sense of connection and community.
  • NEW! Use ‘call forwarding’ feature so that members and staff can ‘man the switchboard’ of the Clubhouse, and forward calls.
  • NEW! Establish an ‘I/T HELP DESK’ team of staff and members who can be on-call to help others members connect with technology, etc.
  • NEW! Use free Hallmark software to create birthday cards, reach-out cards.
  • If members request it, the Clubhouse can deliver actual hard copy tasks to do from home. Other members can assume some online responsibility for social media, making videos, contact and supporting other members, etc.
  • In one Clubhouse a very limited number of members are joining staff onsite to assist with crucial unit work (logging outreach, updating database. processing mail and invoices, painting projects, outreaching members, etc.)
  • Some units are holding separate daily online unit meetings. Members can volunteer to help with preparing posts for social media and making contributions toward the newsletter.
  • Projects that can be done remotely include: develop external newsletter, FB page, work collaboratively online, update the Clubhouse video, develop a welcome packet, develop a Clubhouse recipe book.
  • Use Google docs to collaborate on creating newsletters, recipe books, compilations of members’ experiences while in quarantine.
  • Have a member or a small group of members be responsible for taking calls for other members in regard to ordering lunch, or food bank orders, or other daily requests, and then call in the orders to staff who can deliver or implement the order.
  • A member or group of members can keep an updated list of places that deliver food or have take-out options.
  • Members with cars can join a mobile fleet to help make deliveries of food and goods to other members.
  • Members can make birthday cards for other members from home.
  • Create a daily news show. Members can send brief (less than a minute) videos about how they are doing; tips on good movies or books; ideas for Clubhouse projects; etc. Videos can be sent to a staff and/or member with the ability to edit them together. These can be viewed on the Clubhouse Facebook or webpage on a daily basis.
  • Organize a group to research and apply for newly available grants for responding to the COVID- 19 crisis.
  • Organize a research project to keep track of member contacts, crisis diversion, hospitalizations, meals delivered, on-line activities, goal plans adjusted or created, crisis line calls, etc. to make the case post crisis about the value of the Clubhouse community.
EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION
  • NEW! Schedule individual phone meetings with members who are employed or looking for employment at this time.
  • NEW! Assist members with filing for unemployment.
  • NEW! Work one-on-one with members via phone to work on resumes, job applications, mock interviews, etc. 
  • NEW! Clubhouse Supported Education: deliver materials from the Clubhouse to members’ residences to continue self-paced on-line learning for GED/High school equivalency courses/diplomasIt is important that Clubhouses remain connected to TE business partners, even if all TE jobs have been suspended at this time. Maintain strong relationships with employers in order to ensure a smooth return for members at the end of this crisis. Have a voice conversation with the employer to decide together the best way to manage TE/SE support during this time.
  • Educate and inform members that have lost their incomes about stimulus packages and other assistance that might be available. Check with government unemployment benefits offices as some are expanding coverage to include laid off or furloughed part-time employees.
  • Communicate information about potential employment options, such as Amazon Fulfillment Centers or other on-line retail organizations, to connect interested members with work income immediately.
  • If members are laid off of their jobs, the Clubhouse should work with the member to contact benefits administrators to help members get back on their pensions/entitlements or apply for the first time.
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • NEW! Use chat rooms for special interest groups in the Clubhouse. You can have a chat room for the young adults, for employed members, for seniors, for members in group homes, etc.
  • One staff (along with a small team of volunteer members) can monitor the Clubhouse Facebook page all day, responding to posts and keeping everyone informed about news and updates.
  • Establish a private Facebook group to keep in contact with members during this stressful time.
  • Create a link on the front page of your Clubhouse website to a page of information relating to the coronavirus. Update this page daily (or very frequently).
  • Post your Clubhouse updates and relevant media regarding Coronavirus via Facebook and Instagram.
  • Clubhouses are using Text Now (app), Facebook group pages and live chat, Instagram and Instagram Live, WhatsApp, Slack, etc. to remain in communication with each other.
  • Zoom, Skype and WebEx are good for group video conferencing.
  • Mail Chimp can be a helpful platform to send an email to all members at once. Mail Chimp allows the send to know how many have opened the email, which can be helpful information for the Clubhouse.
  • Create a closed Facebook page just for your Clubhouse.
FOOD
  • NEW! Coordinate bulk food delivery to members, getting a week of groceries delivered at a time.
  • NEW! Partner with other community agencies/programs, with bulk buying, prep, and delivery.
  • NEW! Ask donors to help support local restaurants as well as Clubhouse members by ordering a take-out meal that can be delivered to all members, for a special treat.
  • NEW! Get donations from local Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, etc., and deliver to members.
  • NEW! Grocery shopping once per week. Two or three members gather the lists on Monday and centralize them with the Clubhouse ‘mobile shoppers,’ who then purchase and deliver the items every Tuesday.
  • NEW! Create on-line cooking demonstrations and have the community try to create the dishes at home.
  • Some Clubhouses are making lunches at the Clubhouse and delivering to members. However, it is important to limit the number of food preparation people and practice physical distancing (at least 6 ft/2 meters).
  • Gather information about all local food resources and food pantries in your community and communicate this information to members.
  • If a member cannot get food, the Clubhouse should deliver food or ensure that food is available from another source.
  • One Clubhouse is working with food pantries to deliver a weekly-monthly supply of groceries to members. The Clubhouse asks members to take a picture of their driver's licenses as ID for the food pantry, and then text them to staff at the Clubhouse who will print them up and send them to the food pantry. The Clubhouse is able to pick up 12 orders at a time and then deliver these directly to the members.
  • Order food through the regular Clubhouse food suppliers and make up boxes of groceries to deliver to members.
  • Some Clubhouses are making lunches and distributing them outside of the Clubhouse, in take- out boxes, to reduce physical proximity.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT
  • NEW! Clubhouses in the U.S. that will be having upcoming primaries can help members obtain and submit absentee ballots.
  • NEW! Staff and/or members in recovery can organize online AA, DRA, etc., 12-step meetings for the Clubhouse community.
  • Clubhouses remain committed to ensuring that they continue to provide supports to members in regard to housing, medication, physical health, and other community support needs.
  • Mobile banking: For members that use the Clubhouse member banks, Clubhouses are taking phone calls in the morning and then driving around to get signatures and distribute checks and money.
  • Make sure that all members have access to a Clubhouse Hotline/Crisis line, and that it is always active and will be answered by a live person.
SOCIAL AND WELLNESS PROGRAM
  • NEW! Organize a game show on Facebook Live for the Clubhouse community.
  • NEW! Use an app called ‘Houseparty,’ where members and staff can play group games such as Trivia and “Chips and Guac” (similar to Apples to Apples).
  • NEW! Encourage all members to obtain a thermometer and establish their baseline temperature. If anyone notices that their temperature has gone up by more than one degree from the baseline, they should contact their doctor.
  • NEW! Use the Clubhouse International ‘Directors E-groups’ for support in regard to how staff can best take care and protect themselves during this time. For more information and a link to join one of these groups, contact Lee Kellogg at lkellogg@clubhouse-intl.org
  • NEW! Start an email thread in your Clubhouse community where people can post innovative and fun ways to exercise.
  • NEW! One Clubhouse has started to have online Meditation Mondays, Social Wednesdays (virtual games like Bingo) and Fitness Fridays during lunch hour for members and staff to attend.
  • Use Facebook Live, Zoom/Skype or other social media platform to share exercise classes including yoga classes and meditation groups.
  • There are some excellent virtual tours of museums that Clubhouses can do ‘together’ online.
  • Create virtual book, music or movie discussion groups
CLUBHOUSE FUNDING AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP
  • NEW! One Clubhouse that was going to have a 5K fundraiser has decided to go ahead with the event, but do it virtually.
  • NEW! Some Clubhouses have received grants from their local Rotary Clubs.
  • NEW! Contacting local media to make them aware of your supports/services. Local TV and radio stations are looking for positive, community-based stories.
  • Clubhouses and Clubhouse coalitions are advocating with their local governments to establish funding mechanisms to cover new strategies of remote and virtual service provision.
  • Some Clubhouses are finding that they will be able to bill for "community support" when making reach out calls to members. In the US, some states are allowing billing for longer phone calls with members; others allow Clubhouses to bill for dropping off food or meds without face-to-face interaction with a member.
  • Write grants that focus on trying to obtain donations for laptops or iPads for members that do not have access to an electronic device.
  • Rotary International and United Way might be good resources for obtaining grants for digital/virtual support services. Many cities and towns have Community Foundations that make funding available in times of crisis or great need.
BOARD/ADVISORY BOARD

Clubhouses are asking their boards and advisory boards for specific assistance during this time. This includes:

  • NEW! Board/Advisory Board members could support a local restaurant and also provide a needed treat for Clubhouse staff and members, by ordering a take-out meal for everyone. 
  • Raise funds to buy disposable phones, or tablets with internet connectivity, for members who do not have these devices. It will be crucial that all members can maintain communication during this period of isolation. Some members may have phones with very limited minutes available, so the board might be able to help fund purchasing additional minutes for these members.
  • Raise funds to help members who have lost their income due to layoffs and need immediate financial assistance.
  • Enlist the help of boards in advocating with government funders to ensure they know the Clubhouse work continues and that we are well positioned to provide ongoing support to members during this time of crisis. Make sure they have good data and understanding about how you have adjusted your work. If board members are helping with this advocacy it could help with getting government funders to continue and expand payments for Clubhouse services.
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