“The lack of contact with other residents was really hard. It was very lonely, I felt so isolated.”
Life in my care home before the pandemic was idyllic, too good to be true in retrospect. My days were filled with activities including a poetry group, guest speakers, a music and movement group, crafts or sitting in the lounge with my puzzles. Because I am from Yorkshire I really enjoyed hearing other residents read aloud at the poetry group and loved hearing their accents. I liked my routine and it felt like my refuge. My daughter would visit me once a week, and my grandson with this two children.
Once the pandemic arrived, the thing that changed the most – and the worst thing – was staff wearing masks. You can’t see peoples’ expressions and you can’t always hear what they are saying. The lack of contact with other residents was really hard. I missed those that I had made friends with and used to meet for coffee. It was very lonely, I felt so isolated.
The worst two weeks were when I had a temperature and had to be barrier nursed. Being tied to the room was horrendous. My door was kept closed and staff had to wear full PPE when they came in. I even had to use disposable crockery for my meals. I would ask the staff for news about my friends in the home. I didn’t have a mobile phone so couldn’t call anyone. Every day I would pray that someone would take me round the garden – we weren’t allowed out of our rooms or in the garden on our own.
We started having outdoor visits on 1st June, by then I hadn’t seen my daughter for three months. This was hard because of the social distance and with her wearing a mask I couldn’t hear her very well. I felt vulnerable, empty and alone, like there was no joy in my life. Once we were allowed indoor visits again, that was fantastic and I could hear her better. The housekeeper gave me her old mobile phone so I was able to talk to my family. Speaking to my twin sister in Australia was a breakthrough and a red letter day.
I hated lockdown, hated the isolation. It was lonely but I did not feel frightened. I have always been independent. I had to fight mentally to survive. I noticed that my voice was weaker as I just wasn’t talking so much. I made myself read poetry every day out loud. I felt the isolation was detrimental to my health. I tried to be positive and when the staff would ask me how I was I would try to come up with as many different adjectives as I could such as ‘fabulous’, ‘fantastic’ and even ‘stupendous’! I asked my daughter to send me a thesaurus so that I could look up more words. I was kept going by the weekly letter and poem the care home manager wrote for us every week. I have such admiration for the care staff, they did their very best. I felt safe and secure and lucky that I was here.
Patricia King, 92, Tunbridge Wells
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