Live-In Carer Frances Is Isolating With Her Customer For 12-Weeks To Keep Him Safe

Published: 28/05/2020

Frances, one of our Live-In Care Assistants, offered to isolate with a customer for three-months, prior to the start of lockdown in a bid to keep him safe.

Frances, one of our live-in carers, began thinking about the risk of the emerging coronavirus pandemic in early march, when it became apparent just how serious the illness could be, especially for those who are vulnerable due to old age or a chronic health condition. 

Frances said: “During March 2020 I became aware of the news that a coronavirus pandemic was emerging. Covid – 19 was considered to be a highly contagious and deadly virus. I started to think about what were my risk areas in my life. I realised that travelling on public transport was my biggest risk area and so that would be the biggest risk I would bring to the people I cared for during my work at Bluebird Care.”

She continued: “Then I heard on the news that people over the age of 70 would be asked to isolate at home for 3 months.... this was shocking and sad news and of course necessary to help keep them safe.”

Frances’ immediate response was to offer to isolate with her customer for a period of three months. She knew that this was a big undertaking and so, chose to take three days to carefully consider it. After the three days were over, Frances felt that it was still the right thing to do. 

Frances said: “I work as a 'Live In Carer' and I am in isolation with an elderly gentleman with mild dementia. So far I have been here for nearly six weeks, so it is early days yet." 

She has been concerned about how her customer, 82-year-old Jim, a very healthy, active man would cope without his regular long walks. 

Frances said: “Jim has led an active life, played a lot of sport and also enjoyed many years of sailing. Exmouth has wonderful options for walking, there is the estuary nearby and the marina and the promenade along the beach. Unless the weather was really bad Jim enjoyed a walk most days and also enjoyed sitting and watching the waves on the ocean, the boats coming in and out of the marina, and the wildlife on the estuary.”

Frances was concerned about how she would maintain Jim’s connection to nature, his fitness levels and his enjoyment of being out in society. Her first thought was gardening - while Jim usually has a gardener come and maintain his nice size garden with a patio and potting shed - and whether time spent in the garden could help to keep Jim happy during lockdown. 

Frances said: “Jim seems to enjoy mowing the lawn again, he keeps and eye on the length of the grass and lets me know when it is time for him to get the lawn mower out – I think he likes having a real job to do. Jim and I have been around and trimmed all the hedges with hand clippers, we have tidied up the potting shed, and got lots of big tubs ready on the patio.”

She continued: “Very soon we hope to be growing some colourful flowers and a selection of herbs. A neighbour kindly gave Jim some tomato plants and his daughter sent him some lettuce and radish seeds which are supposedly easy to grow, so we will have a go. Gardening is certainly helping to keep Jim fit and active and is keeping his connection with nature.”

To help Jim to maintain his connection with the outside world, Frances had the idea to put a small table with two chairs in the window of the guest bedroom in his home which offers expansive views of rooftops, the sky, and hills in the distance. 

She said: “We can also see neighbours working away and enjoying their gardens. We can even see a little bit of the estuary, and we can see a little bit of a road with occasional cars, buses, joggers, walkers and cyclists. We call this 'The Room with a View' and we go up here for coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon – it offers us a view that connects us with life and other people.”

Frances explained that: “Jim really enjoys watching the birds flying free and listening to the birdsong in the trees and on the roof tops. Endless things for us to chat about or a place to simply sit and be."

Frances feels very well supported by the Bluebird Care Exeter, Exmouth, East Devon, and West Devon team. She also has plenty of support from Jim’s daughters and Jim’s neighbours. 

She said: “I have had lots of help with food shopping and regular phone contact and am feeling glad for this opportunity to contribute.” 

Frances wanted to make sure that during the lockdown she wasn’t putting her customer, Jim at risk, and has gone above and beyond to put safeguards in place to ensure his safety.