I must start by saying how much we enjoyed reading Natasha’s wonderful, touching and funny article about a day in the life of a Barley View carer during Covid 19. It made us smile and truly helped keep us feel connected. A hard act to follow, but here goes.
I would like to briefly go back to the days before the virus, when life seemed normal. I live in Dorset almost 300 miles away from Barley View. When mum (Patricia) came to live at Barley View in February 2019, I came and spent a week with her to settle her in. Mum and all her family were given a wonderful welcome and she received very professional and loving care from day one. Living so far away, I visited mum every 5 to 6 weeks. I would arrive to help mum with her breakfast and stay with her until she went to bed. So, I feel I know the routines, residents and families and of course the amazing staff at Barley View. Knowing Barley View so intimately before lockdown has been incredibly reassuring. Between visits, I would get news of mum from other family members that visited her.
I last saw mum back in March.
I stayed with her for a few days and we had a lovely time celebrating her 89th birthday together. I was so glad we were able to do that as we knew life was about to change. It still hit us very hard when we heard that Barley View was going into lockdown on March 19th. I could not have imagined that, more than 6 months later, I would not have been able to see her. That is hard and sad.
I think of mum every day. Wondering if she slept well? What has she had for breakfast? What is she wearing? Who is looking after her today and how are they feeling? How is she feeling? When should I phone to find out? So many questions.
A phone call and chat with one of the seniors soon reassure me. To hear the familiar voice of Hazel, Yasmin, Marie or Hollie helps so much. They recognise my voice and give me an update on mum. They are always bright and positive but never afraid to share any concerns and propose solutions which are always followed up on. I always ask who else is working that day and ask for my thanks to be passed on to the team. Sometimes, I speak to mum and she manages a few words. So nice to hear her voice. My sister Clare and I share phoning and we pass news of mum, Grannie and GG (Great Grannie) to all her family.
Clare has dropped off anything mum has needed and waved and spoken through the window. She could not visit mum in the lovely summer house as, living in Littleborough, she was subject to local lockdown at the time. That is hard too. When mum saw Clare through the window she said: “come in”. She doesn’t understand, because of her dementia. That made me cry. Wondering if I will ever see her again? Will she recognise me? Will she be able to find her lovely husband and our wonderful dad in the photos or finish off the list of her 4 children when I prompt her? Or smile when I talk about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren? I wonder what she thinks about the masks. She always loved and felt reassured by a smiling face. So hard for the carers wearing them all day but she loves the tender touch of them holding her hand. Please hold her hand.
I didn’t mean to write so much but can’t end without mentioning the zoom meetings! Never done one before and they too have helped us feel informed and connected. But these virtual meetings do resemble modern-day seances “Are you there?” “Sorry, you’re cutting out” “We can’t see you, can you hear us?”
Apart from thanking you all so much and saying you are doing an amazing job at keeping everyone at Barley View safe and well I would just like to reflect on what mum would have thought of all these health and safety measures before she got dementia. I think she would have approved of them as she used to turn the kettle and toaster off at the wall when not in use!
Keep safe and well and thank you so much.