Hospice scheme helps 97-year-old battle loneliness in lockdown
PUBLISHED: 12:01 12 November 2020
A 97-year-old man has praised a Letchworth-based hospice project which allowed him to stay connected with society during lockdown.
Offley resident Dick Tyler has lived by himself since his wife passed away 15 years ago and kept himself active by gardening and sociable through regular lunch clubs.
However, with the national lockdown restricting social activities for much of the year, he has instead benefited from regular visits from his Compassionate Neighbour, Carol Power, since both were introduced to the project earlier this year.
Garden House Hospice Care’s Compassionate Neighbours are people volunteering their time to provide social and emotional support to anyone experiencing loneliness or social isolation, and the scheme has continued to thrive despite the latest lockdown.
Dick explained: “I’ve been alone for so many years now since my wife died that it’s been important for me to stay active and social. I love life and like to keep myself busy with my gardening, but I miss the social interaction with people.
“That’s where I’m thankful to the Compassionate Neighbours project for introducing me to Carol. I love to talk and without her visiting, the only people I’d ever see is my family.
“Carol is extremely pleasant company and is a very nice person to meet at times like this. We chat about everything from the news to the weather and look through family photos. We have a laugh and a joke and that really cheers me up. She comes across as a person who could cheer anyone up.”
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Carol Power first became a Compassionate Neighbour in August this year after answering a call from the hospice for more volunteers.
She said: “The thing that most attracted me to the project was that I felt it was time to give something back. My father received care at the hospice five years ago and sadly passed away there, but the care and support we were all given as a family was second to none. I will be forever grateful.
“It’s been wonderful to be able to visit Dick during these difficult times. He is a very bright, active and very sociable. He used to like going out to lunch clubs but has missed those outings due to COVID-19. I therefore try to visit him once a week and if I’m unable to, I always telephone.
“My favourite thing about the project is seeing Dick’s face light up when I visit. We have such wonderful conversations and I have such an uplifting feeling when I’m on my way home. It’s a small window in my week but an enormously important one to us both.
“I would strongly recommend others to become a Compassionate Neighbour as the mutual benefits are immense. Pairing with your community member is done very carefully and you get huge support from the wonderful team.”
Jeanette Farrow, Compassionate Neighbours project manager at Garden House Hospice Care, added: “Dick and Carol are a wonderful example of how we have paired someone who is experiencing loneliness or social isolation with one of our amazing Compassionate Neighbours. We have been working hard to ensure we can continue to offer our amazing project despite the coronavirus restrictions.
“In the last six months, we have trained 40 new Compassionate Neighbours using a mixture of virtual and socially distanced training and we have made over 80 matches. They keep in touch on the phone, go for walks, meet for coffee and in some circumstances are able to visit, provide they adhere to the relevant guidelines.”
The hospice is in need of new Compassionate Neighbours to give an hour a week, and is holding training sessions via Zoom on November 17, 18 and 19, between 7pm and 9pm.
To find out more, or request an application form, contact email@example.com or call 01462 679540.
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