gary and dawnEighty-three year old Cardiff resident Dawn lives alone. With complex health issues including partial sight and hearing loss, poor mobility as well as heart and lung conditions, Dawn was advised to shield at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak and ensuing lockdown.

Unfortunately, the Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale volunteer supporting Dawn at that time was also advised to shield. Dawn was quite alone and facing the worrying prospect of having no support to assist with shopping and the many issues of general day-to-day living.

Due to Dawn’s sight and hearing loss, she is unable to use a telephone and so, following social distancing guidelines, Age Connects team member Gary visited Dawn to provide reassurance and assess her needs. The two of them quickly developed a rapport. 

Since then, Gary has ‘visited’ Dawn at least twice weekly and often much more frequently. It very quickly became clear to Gary that Dawn was really struggling to cope alone. Through Gary, Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale referred Dawn to Social Services who speedily put a home care package in place to provide support for her each morning and lunchtime. Whilst this has been an obvious help, Gary’s continued involvement has been vital to her wellbeing.

He explains: ‘Sadly, Dawn is entirely housebound and is unable to use modern technology. As such, in addition to shopping for her, I’ve helped with payment of bills and queries with utility companies. I’ve also assisted with her prescriptions. Although Dawn has her medication delivered, on a number of occasions the deliveries have been incomplete, with no explanation. This has been very stressful for Dawn and naturally causes her a great deal of distress, requiring me to visit the pharmacy in person to rectify the situation’.

He continues: ‘On another occasion when I visited Dawn, it was clear that she was unwell. I called her GP and provided reassurance to Dawn while he attended. Further medication was prescribed which I collected from the pharmacy’.

The coronavirus period has presented older, often isolated members of our local communities with very real and unprecedented issues and concerns. For many, like Dawn however, their particular challenges will remain once the current crisis has eased.

As Gary acknowledges: ‘Dawn’s complex health issues and associated inability to communicate with ease means that ongoing and intensive support will be required. It could prove testing for any new volunteer who is paired with Dawn but as always Age Connects will be on hand to support, train and advise where needed to ensure a positive and fulfilling experience for all involved’.

Age Connects Cardiff & the Vale has always supported older members of our local communities who have little or no family support. Through the current tough climate and moving into an uncertain future, we will continue to support the most vulnerable in our community. If you know someone like Dawn who needs our help to stay safe, well, and reassured then please tell them that there is help at hand with Age Connects.