Our Director and Founder, Susan Langford’s second lockdown blog:
“When you come, we know we are not forgotten”
About 30 years ago, an older lady, came with me to the front door of her care home, to wave off a group of children, who’d just shared in an intergenerational drawing session with residents. She grabbed my hand and said, “Sometimes in here, we don’t know what day of the week it is, but when you come, we know we are not forgotten.”
Although much has changed for the better in care homes in that 30 years, they are still very much the forgotten part of the health and social care sector. The Covid 19 virus is exposing, not causing, problems that have too long been filed in the ‘too difficult’ tray on decision makers desks. How do we as a nation fund the care that is needed for a growing population living longer lives, many with a dementia? Are we prepared to pay for the really skilled and expert attention that is needed to provide 24/7 care for ourselves, our families, our neighbours?
This week the media spotlight has quite rightly highlighted the hidden toll of Covid 19 related deaths within the frail and vulnerable care home resident population. Perhaps this spotlight will bring government action to address the lack of PPE and testing, the staff shortages and exhaustion. But will the current lockdown be enough of a crisis this time, to jolt the system into real, long-term change?
At Magic Me our approach has always been to offer care homes new opportunities and great activities, here, now, today. But alongside this our longer aim is to ensure older people, their families and the whole care home community of staff, families and visitors are not forgotten. Joint activities with local younger neighbours, public showing of artworks and performances, all help older people to be more visible, recognised and valued as neighbours, when decisions are made at the town hall or in Westminster.
And right now, something is changing. I see a glimmer of hope for the forgotten people.
When I talk to friends on the phone, they say “I’ve lost touch. I don’t know what day of the week it is” Millions of adults in the UK are currently experiencing, week by week, day by day, hour by slow hour, social isolation, in a way that they never have before. It’s one thing to hear or read about loneliness and social isolation for other people – its another thing to live it yourself.
We don’t know when we’ll be able to go out and about again. Before that day comes, please do one thing.
Write down what this feels like. Don’t ever forget. Because when lockdown ends for you, too many people will still be indoors, watching from the window, waving from the door. And they need you to remember what this feels like and to keep the pressure up, so things change, so no-one gets forgotten.
Times are tough for many people. But if you can, please donate now and keep our vital work going, now and in the months ahead.