Sue is a pensioner caring for two grown up sons, 23 and 33, who both have a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome. Over the years Sue has been a lone parent to both boys, always preparing them for living independently in later life.
Lee, her eldest son transferred to supportive living approximately five years ago and has been living successfully with support in his own flat, attending Day Centres, along with support from on-site carers and regular calls from his mum who just lives round the corner.
In January 2019 Joe also went into supportive living close to his brother and again just round the corner from his mum.
After so many years caring 24/7 Sue was just getting used to living alone, cooking for one and embracing her semi-retirement, although still having the ultimate responsibility for both boys.
In February 2020 Coronavirus suddenly changed everything for the family. The supported living was no longer able to provide regular 24 hour care for her sons in either of their placements and both came home. The Day Centres stopped the activity clubs including the gym and activity groups where they met their friends and peers.
Sue now had two boys, full of life and enthusiasm, back home 24/7 to entertain, to engage with and to keep positive and buoyant through this difficult time. Taking the boys for regular daily walks helped curb their energy. However, Sue soon realised that she had quickly become isolated from friends because of the sudden transition back into a caring role. She needed to engage with others somehow, if she and the boys were not to become isolate further.
Using tech to connect
Prior to Covid she had regularly attended her local carers choir and support groups and was really missing this adult company, friends and time out from her busy caring role during the week. Northamptonshire Carers spoke to Sue and persuaded her to come on a zoom group to keep in touch with friends. She was very hesitant as she had never used online technology before. Fortunately, her local carers centre had some funding available to provide her with a basic tablet.
Sue was a little scared and bothered by the tablet at first, but made herself have a go and soon impressed herself with how she was able to use this new technology. She made it on to a zoom call and saw her friends. Then she managed to skype and zoom family members who were all shielding. Sue found real pleasure from her new tablet and was able to chat to her friends on What’s App groups. This was a complete revelation. Her tablet has allowed her to connect with others, bringing joy and support to others who have also been isolated at this time.
Sue has really surprised herself on how she has picked up new skills since her world threatened to close in because of the pandemic. Thanks to just a small amount of support in the form of the tablet, she has been able to stay connected to the outside world, preventing isolation and making the loneliness she felt at the start of the year a thing of the past.