Sylvia lives on her own.
She is in her early 50s and has no close family nearby. She works in a supermarket and is a very private person.
Every 3 months Sylvia has a vitamin B12 injection in her surgery, apart from that she is fit and well.
She goes to visit her mother who lives 40 miles away, every other weekend. She thinks her mother is showing the early signs of dementia but her mother insists she can manage. Her mother had been referred for a hospital appointment to see a rheumatologist but now Sylvia is worried that her mother might go on her own if she gets an appointment letter.
Sylvia is worried as her mother lives in a small country cottage in a very rural area and is a mile from the nearest neighbour. Sylvia predicted that a lockdown might happen and got her mother a smart mobile phone just before lockdown.
What the pandemic has meant for her:
- Sylvia has become a key worker all of a sudden and has not been furloughed. She has been asked to work some additional hours each week because some of her work colleagues are shielding. Whilst she feels proud of her role in the pandemic, she worries when she sees people in the store handling goods and touching their faces.
- Sylvia couldn’t see her mother at all until August. She was too worried about being an infection risk for her mother so didn’t go and see her. Sylvia tried to explain video-calling to her mother but she just didn’t manage it, so she called her every other night to see how she was.
- Talking to her mother was OK but Sylvia wanted to see how her mother was looking and to see if she was managing the house. She was very worried that her mother might not be managing her tablets well but didn’t know what she could do about it.
- Sylvia did some online ordering for her mother’s food shopping, but the initial shortages meant that even when she ordered all the right things, she couldn’t be guaranteed that her mother would get what she wanted. She was also worried that her mother might be uneasy about a stranger coming to the door and felt this was also putting her mother at risk.
- Sylvia’s B12 injections have been stopped, she doesn’t know how long for or what this means. The practice nurse said she would be OK for a few months and could take tablets. Sylvia looked this up on the internet, she doesn’t think this was quite right and so she joined a facebook group for people in the same situation. She learned that some people were self-injecting but doesn’t know how to do this or what she would do with the used needles.
- Sylvia remembered that her mother was supposed to have blood tests before going to see the rheumatologist but can’t remember why. Her mother is quite anxious about going to have blood tests. Sylvia doesn’t know whether this is important enough to phone up her mother’s doctor. She doesn’t know if the doctor will be allowed to give her any information or even if the receptionist will let her speak to the doctor.
What we did for people in this situation:
- CHCs across Wales made sure that information about the coronavirus was available on our main web pages. People like Sylvia could find the right information and be signposted to other sources of valid information such as Public Health Wales.
- CHCs regularly reminded WG that sometimes older people have no support immediately available and cannot use technology even if they want to.
- CHCs across Wales asked Welsh Government about the situation with B12 injections. People weren’t happy waiting, some people knew they couldn’t have tablets and that their health would decline. People felt that this was essential and weren’t happy it had been stopped. We discussed this several times.
- HDCHC asked the Health Board about some general questions about how people with dementia were being cared for in the pandemic. In particular we asked how people with essential appointments could be accompanied to make sure that communication was as clear as possible.
- CHCs across Wales regularly reminded WG, Health Boards and other bodies that some people are isolated and have no friends or family for nearby support. We had heard how sometimes appeals for help were being made across Facebook groups asking people to drop in on the elderly and this was not always a safe option.