In-home senior visits keep loneliness at bay during pandemic times
As an older person, the social restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic hit Geelong resident Muriel particularly hard.
She was not allowed to visit husband Ted, who lives with dementia at a nearby care facility, unable to make her regular visits to the Pakington Street shopping strip and her usual Cafe Care Connect social catch-ups were also put on hold. Muriel says she even had to remain behind her door when her friendly neighbours came by to check on her.
‘When I first met Muriel she was very flat and missing life,’ says Gateways Independent Support and Recreation worker Heather.
‘There were a lot of things she couldn’t do and she was feeling very isolated.’
But thanks to Heather’s twice weekly visits under the Commonwealth Home Support Program, Muriel says the restrictions have been a little more bearable.
‘It breaks up the loneliness,’ says Muriel, who describes the regular visits as better than a doctor.
‘I look forward to it every week and make sure to let people know they can’t come over on a day when Heather is coming. She makes such a difference.’
Heather was matched with Muriel three months ago and the two have since bonded over their country upbringing, interest in gardening and newspaper crossword puzzles, celebrating successful completions over a cup of tea.
Heather describes the CHSP program as an important one in maintaining social connections for seniors, many of whom lose friendship circles as they advance in age.
‘Our older clients often don’t think that they have much to offer. But some have led incredible lives and have rich stories to tell,’ Heather says.
‘I feel a fraud some days getting a wage because it can be so enjoyable.’
Heather describes Muriel as a gorgeous and smart lady of many talents.
‘She’ll have a good laugh about things and she’s very happy with her lot,’ Heather says. ‘It’s a joy to go and see her.’
With restrictions starting to ease, Muriel is happy to be able to visit her husband again after a separation of six weeks.
But she still looks forward to the familiarity of Heather’s face – and delicious baked goods.
‘She is really good on the biscuits,’ Muriel laughs. ‘She’s a pretty good all-rounder.’
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