Raymond and Betty are in their 80s and are a retired couple.
Their home is a bungalow. They have three children and five grandchildren and usually see some of them every day. Betty goes out daily as she loves shopping and going for coffee with friends.
Ray is 84 and feeling his age, he doesn’t really have any hobbies and just watches sport most days and he can have the telly on loud when Betty is out as he doesn’t like wearing his hearing aid. He is a type 2 diabetic and has no idea what a healthy diet is. Betty keeps him on the right track but she knows if anything happened to her, Ray would have no idea how to boil an egg.
Betty has high blood pressure which is regularly checked in her GP Surgery as she doesn’t really like taking her tablets and doesn’t always take them when she should. She looks young for her age and has been a bit offended to have a shielding letter as she doesn’t want people to know her age or her health problems. She knows she is at risk because she has a heart problem, but she has ignored this for years.
One of their sons is a teacher and one of their grandchildren works as a carer so they are proud to have key workers in the family.
What the pandemic has meant for them:
- For Ray it didn’t really make much difference, apart from the fact that Betty didn’t go out anywhere to give him any peace. She would nag him more to go and do the garden or jobs around the house but if he wasn’t wearing his hearing aid, the nagging was something he could ignore.
- The grandchildren and children didn’t come into the house but knocked the door every day to check everything was OK. Betty was upset by this as that meant she couldn’t really have a cuppa and a chat and Ray wasn’t much company.
- Betty felt a bit better about shielding when she could see that several other houses in the street were having supermarket deliveries – she didn’t feel so embarrassed but she still missed her weekly shopping trip with her friend Maureen.
- Betty was a bit grumpy about having to learn how to do online shopping herself. Although Ray can use a computer he wasn’t interested in helping her and they had a few strong words about this. Betty found this hard and although she phoned her teenage granddaughter a couple of times, she kept on deleting her on-line list when she didn’t mean to and she felt foolish asking the same questions repeatedly. The family did try bringing up food parcels but they kept on buying stuff that she and Ray would not eat.
- Betty had some headaches and felt a bit unwell, her daughter bought a blood pressure machine to keep an eye on Betty’s blood pressure as she couldn’t go to the surgery to get it checked. They could get the machine to work, but didn’t really know what to do when the levels seemed high.
- When Ray could see that Betty was getting a bit down, he did try to persevere with his hearing aid but then it ran out of batteries and he couldn’t find the spare ones. He used to go to the hospital to get spares, but he hadn’t been there for such a long time and he didn’t know if he would be allowed in to get more. He put his hearing aids in the drawer and carried on turning the TV volume up.
What we did for people in this situation:
- CHCs across Wales told WG that some people who’d had shielding letters were not happy about it. They did not feel that they should have had them and couldn’t understand why they were now being called ‘vulnerable’.
- CHCs across Wales told WG and Health Boards that it was hard for people to learn how to do some new things using technology for the first time. Trying to learn new things over the phone can be is difficult and people feel a bit daft when they can’t do the things that they see teenagers doing every day.
- We told WG that some people did try to monitor their own health by buying things like blood pressure machines. But not everyone could afford one or knew how to use one. Even if they did, they didn’t know who to turn to when their readings seemed to be worsening.
- HDCHC told the Health Board that alternative arrangements for simple supplies such as hearing aid batteries needed to be found. The Health Board told us that they had made arrangements to have batteries posted out to people so that they didn’t have to go into hospitals for them.
- CHCs across Wales kept reminding NHS organisations that technology is not the answer to everything. There are times when people need other people and when this is missing, it can have a big impact that can be hard to measure.