During the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, it quickly became apparent that older people were amongst those at highest risk of becoming severely ill. This led to the ‘shielding’ of the most vulnerable in society, often cutting people off from many aspects of social activity and interaction they enjoyed pre-Covid.
Whilst this aimed to provide protection against the virus, a prevalent side-effect of this has been an impact on the mental wellbeing of many within this age group.
Such isolation can cause loneliness and anxiety, and for those already prone to mental illness, there is a risk of this being significantly impacted further. Therefore, for those with older relatives who are experiencing greater isolation during these times, the question is now, what can be done to support them, particularly if that involves much of it being done remotely?
Below is an action plan, developed by Radfield Home Care Wycombe, Beaconsfield & South Bucks, to help support your older loved ones and friends during the pandemic:
- Pick up the phone regularly to speak with those who are isolated. Agree with other relatives and friends who are going to call and when, to ensure ongoing and regular contact.
- Make a concerted effort to ask compassionate questions, even if you wouldn’t normally have. The risk is that your loved one may be internalising negative emotions, which can lead to poor mental health or the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions.
- Ask about their mood, quality of sleep and appetite. These are all indicators of mental wellbeing.
- Use technology, where possible, to remotely connect e.g. Zoom or Facebook Portal.
- Where possible, visit them, even if you have to remain on the other side of a window, as seeing people in person can have a hugely positive effect and help remove some of the feeling of isolation.
- Arrange nice surprises. Maybe organise a delivery of treats for them, things that they will enjoy rather than just their usual weekly shopping.
- The most important point: If you are concerned about the individual’s mental wellbeing, take action! Talk to your other relatives and friends and come up with a plan to assist. Too many people fall into a poor state of mental wellbeing, which could have been avoided, if they had just had some help.
- Call their GP surgery, explain the situation and ask if a referral can be made to a Social Prescribing Link Worker who will be able to assist with building the local support required.
- Consider organising a few hours of care a week with a CQC registered care agency. Carers will be trained in the use of PPE and can provide companionship and assistance with a wide range of tasks including help around the home, personal care, shopping and medication.
Radfield Home Care Wycombe, Beaconsfield & South Bucks works closely with clients and their families to enable them to remain at home and maintain a good quality of life. To discuss these services please contact the office on [email protected] or 01494 614 516.