Melvin is a widower. His wife died just before Christmas and he is living alone.
He is a quiet man and in reasonable health.
He had surgery for cancer a few years ago. He has a stoma and has some bladder problems after radiotherapy. He is occasionally incontinent but usually has no other health problems.
He thinks maybe he needs to see a doctor about this as it might be his prostate. Since his wife’s death he has become a bit obsessed by his health, he worries that he might die on his own.
Melvin is very worried about the internet, social media and being scammed. He has a ten year old computer and a tablet that his late wife used to use but he only looks up the weather and won’t complete anything by email.
What the pandemic has meant for him:
- Melvin is a worrier. When lockdown first hit, he was worried about his car MOT and how this would be organised as it might mean he would lose his independence.
- Melvin worried about his stoma supplies. It has all worked well since his cancer surgery but he didn’t know if this pandemic situation would mean shortages. He didn’t know if perhaps he should change his bag less often. He doesn’t feel that any one of his friends or family realise what it is like living with a stoma. People could stockpile toilet rolls but he cannot stockpile stoma bags.
- He is due an eye test and has to complete a form for the DVLA soon. He is worried that if he can’t get an eye test, he might lose his license.
- He has thought of ending his life but doesn’t want to talk about it with anyone.
- His stoma is now painful but he is sure this is not an emergency, he is not sure what urgent means. He knows that he was developing some soreness around it and is going to see if changing his diet helps but he isn’t sure if the stoma nurse is still working now, to give him the advice he needs.
- He thinks that maybe he should see a GP about his incontinence, he has heard that men can have prostate problems but doesn’t want to talk to his friends or daughter about it. He knows he can’t just pop into the surgery for an appointment and has no idea of how to get an appointment on line and doesn’t want the surgery having his email address.
What we did in this kind of situation
- CHCs across Wales spoke with Health Boards and WG about medication supplies that people were getting routinely on prescription. We knew that this was a worry for some people during lockdown and some people also thought that the Brexit situation could mean that we wouldn’t have the supplies that we usually had.
- We told Health Boards and WG that people were struggling with appointment systems. We reminded them that not everyone is able to use technology. Not everyone is even very good at using the telephone. We asked that there should be arrangements in place to enable people like Melvin to speak to someone when they think they might need help.
- We discussed with WG that new ways of working such as virtual consultations were a good way for many people to access health services and to remain safe. We emphasised that this one approach did not suit everyone.
- We discussed with Health Boards and WG, the likelihood that lots of people would delay seeing a doctor. This means that they would end up with conditions that were far worse by the time that they did get seen. We discussed the long term implications that this would have on people, their families and the NHS.
- We asked the Health Board about the support nurses such as Parkinson’s nurses, epilepsy nurses, stoma nurses etc and whether they were still accessible. They often enable people with long term conditions stay well in their own homes but people didn’t know if they had been redeployed.