In June our Elders team undertook a survey with 55 of our older members and other local elders in Battersea. Amongst other things, it focused on what support they would like to see post-lockdown. We found that local elders are scared, fearful and lacking a lot of confidence to return to pre-lockdown face-to-face activities. They also have increased health problems and general anxiety, as well as reduced physical conditioning (including loss of muscle, balance and mobility). A sizeable number (the majority actually) are still not willing to attend the Centre, particularly as Covid -19 cases are now increasing again. They are understandably scared and worried about getting out again.
Their fears are compounded by mixed messages from politicians and the press; anxiety about their current health issues and catching the virus; and taking on board the original government messaging about staying away from people. Some have family that are anxious for them and ask them not to take part in activities. We have to ensure that we are working with them at a pace they are comfortable with, in a safe manner, offer a reassuring voice and appropriate level of support.
To help reduce these worries, our ever imaginative Elders team are now working to provide 1-2-1 outreach. This is helping to increase their confidence in going out. We have risk assessed each of our 230+ members, and our services. Following government guidelines, drawing on our extensive experience, learning from our community partners, and using a healthy dose of common sense, we’ve placed our members into small support bubbles. Team members are working within bubbles allocated to them.
Since the beginning of September we’ve been providing ‘small bubble’ outings (3-4 elders) on our Covid-adapted minibus (see the photos below). We’ve been to Richmond Park, Brockwell Lido, Battersea Park, and a drive through central London. We’re also continuing our Fone Friends service (100+ support calls/week to the most vulnerable), supporting elders to continue exercising at home over the phone and on YouTube, and signposting them to other local services. All of this support is likely to be needed throughout the autumn, winter and into next year, probably until a viable vaccine is available.
One of our members texted this:
“Thank u very much the exercises arrived yesterday. I’m so happy about it. Pls enjoy the wk end we all continue to pray that only God can clear the wicked Covid 19 away & the whole world will come back to normal again very soon we all should remain Safe & well 💕
Pls say a big thank u to all colleagues for ur hard work. We all appreciate u especially for fone calls, regards again sending us news letters, face covering masks 🎭 👋 Showering of Blessings upon us all always.”