Last year, after 59 years of marriage, 84-year-old Ron lost his wife. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t miss her. Ron is an avid poet, and writes and recites his poetry daily. He has hundreds of poems that he’s written over the years, and he continues to write today. Before lockdown Ron had created a busy daily routine. He would visit his wife’s grave at the cemetery, go out for lunch, was a regular at two Care Network weekly meet ups, Relax and Chat Darwen & Greenfield. He also received bereavement support from East Lancashire Hospice* and went to groups run by Age UK.

At the start of lockdown Care Network started to contact every person who had used our service over the last 12 months, to check to see if there was any support or help they needed. These ‘welfare calls’, were continued for people who were particularly vulnerable or isolated.

When helpdesk staff contacted Ron he was close to tears. He felt lonely and isolated and told us ‘it won’t be the coronavirus that kills me, but this loneliness’. Throughout lockdown Care Network kept in regular touch with Ron and provided the following information, signposts and support;

  • Care Network regular welfare call: Ron is contacted on a regular basis by telephone.
  • Care Networks Online Relax and Chat: Over the course of a number of welfare calls, even though he has never used a computer or a mobile phone, we spent time discussing the benefits of getting online. Ron began to show an interest in upskilling and investing in IT so that he can potentially join online groups.
  • Lancashire Volunteer Partnership: a referral was made so that Ron could have a regular call from a volunteer befriender.
  • Care Network’s Safe Trader Scheme, Hot Meal Delivery Service: Ron was struggling cooking for himself and didn’t want frozen or microwavable meals – we referred him for a daily meal delivery service.
  • Cemetery’s reopening: As soon as it was announced that cemeteries were re-opening we contacted Ron to let him know, so that he could start to visit his wife’s grave again. He reads his poetry to her and tells her how the world is changing and how much he loves and misses her.
Health and Wellbeing benefits
  • Appropriate and timely support: The Care Network welfare calls have led to Ron receiving support to help him overcome any difficulties and lead a healthier and more fulfilling life, during lockdown.
  • Social inclusion: Ron was quickly matched with a befriender, he now has a weekly phone call from a local lady with a young family. He tells us she is a lovely person and he looks forward to her calls.
  • Information provision: Reintroducing his walk to the cemetery each day has improved his emotional wellbeing and physical health.
  • Digital inclusion: After conversations with our team, Ron has decided to step into the digital world and invest in a mobile phone, laptop and broadband. His granddaughter is helping him set it up so he can join Care Network’s Relax and Chat online meet up and other online services too.

It was so nice to hear a friendly voice, it made me feel like I’d not been forgotten, I felt I was part of the human race again. I’d been feeling completely isolated, if it hadn’t been for your contact and the support of others I would have been in a mess. I felt like I was in a prison cell, I was starting to see everything in a negative way.  Things still aren’t perfect, I still do have my moments and wish things would get back to normal, but things have improved.

*Ron's Poem for East Lancashire Hospice