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keeping in touch during lockdown by Becka.

Hi There,

I’m Becka from Clear Round Media and Damian has kindly let me feature on his blog to write all about my thoughts on keeping in touch during lockdown.

My grandparents moved 100 yards away when I was just 1 year old, and as you can imagine I have always seen a lot of them. When lockdown was imposed we decided as a family that I would no longer see my Grandfather as my Fiancé was still working and there was a risk there. After just over a fortnight it occurred to me that this was the longest I’d ever been without seeing him and it was hard. He was 88, had never had an interest in ‘getting online’ and rarely even knew where his phone was - let alone how to use it!

We all equipped ourselves with a Facebook Portal device, and luckily after a few trial runs Grandad was able to join in on my daughter’s virtual 4th birthday party and chat to us regularly. It also meant that we could physically see him to ensure that he was eating properly and was looking after himself.

Unfortunately he had a fall about 5 weeks into lockdown, and when he went into hospital we lost all communication with him. He couldn’t charge his phone and the staff were understandably too busy to help. We were cut down to two phone calls a day to speak to a nurse for an update. He then went into a care home in Boston and we were in the same situation again. I can’t tell you how agonising it was to not be able to speak to him, to not hear for ourselves how he was doing. Very sadly he contracted sepsis and we lost him suddenly about a week later.

What’s the point of this story? Perhaps only now that he’s gone am I truly able to appreciate how valuable that communication with him was during lockdown. So many of us are now without our loved ones, and that Portal was a lifeline to both him and us. He was able to join in on family occasions that he would have been devastated to miss. We were given peace of mind that he was okay and being able to hear his voice gave us a huge amount of comfort.

When this lockdown is over I hope that everyone appreciates human contact that little bit more, I know that I would be doing if my Grandad was still around. But if that’s not possible for you due to geographical locations - why not invest in a Facebook Portal or similar? It’s far easier than FaceTime on a mobile phone as they don’t have to coordinate holding it so that they can view you and stay in shot. You’re hands free so you can show them things and also you can still go about your normal day, just as if they were in the room! Even if you think that your loved ones are more than capable now, get things in place so that if something like this should happen again you’re ready to go.

Obviously I’m a huge advocate of social media, and I know many family members have been watching their loved one’s Instagram or Facebook feeds for an update on what they’re up to. Again, why not set everyone up on social media? You can set Instagram accounts to private so that only those who you allow can see your posts. It’s a great way to instantaneously see what people have been up to, and you can revisit it time and time again when you’re missing them. How lovely is it to sit down at the end of the day and be able to see pictures of your favourite people having fun?

Communication is so important to the elderly, and more so now than ever. It’s a very isolating time even for those of us who are largely able to carry on as normal - imagine being told you’re vulnerable and not to leave the house? Implement things into their lives so that they can reach out or keep in touch as easily as possible.

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