If you don’t listen to the news or have headlines alerting every 5 minutes on your mobile phone, life can feel calm and safe and you can just get on with your everyday tasks and routines.
This is the way many people supported at MacIntyre live their lives, feeling safe and knowing that life as we know it is not a bad place and we just get on.
Like many I was just bobbing along when, like a big dark rain cloud, coronavirus came into our lives. Not really understanding the severity of what was to come, tuning into the daily news updates hearing more and more and starting to fully understand the enormity of the impact this virus was going to have on the world and of course, the people supported at MacIntyre and our staff teams.
Support at MacIntyre has been amazing and so consistent: we all pulled together and didn’t want to leave any one behind. There was a plan in place - which sometimes changed daily - but never once did I feel or witness our senior teams panic. This was reassuring and made me believe that we could get through this; it makes such a difference working in a team in times like this.
My role at MacIntyre is office-based so at the beginning of Covid-19 I did feel a bit useless, not being hands on, wanting to pull up my sleeves and do whatever I could. I had to think of how I could still feel like I was helping in these strange times. So I made contact with some teams and offered to be on the end of my phone if anyone supported needed a person to talk to. Well it didn’t take long before I received a call from a lady who sounded extremely anxious. Alice* introduced herself and said “I hope you don’t mind me calling?” so I quickly reassured Alice that she could call whenever she needed.
Life had changed overnight for Alice: she usually led an active, jam-packed life made up from college days, visiting family, eating out and visiting her local beach. Like many, all our lives changed overnight and part of my job now was to make sure Alice had a place to share her feelings.
We spent many hours talking about Covid-19; the government; the daily news briefings at 5pm; how we planned to digest the new changes that we were having to adhere to; how they impacted on Alice’s life; what we could do to keep well and calm - and of course patient - as life as we knew it had changed, and we didn’t know when it was going to go back to “normal” and if it ever would!
The daily calls from Alice would vary. I would pick up the phone to hear laughter, sadness, frustration, confusion and fear. We would never say that these feelings were wrong, or that you should not be feeling this way: the expression “we’re only human” was used a lot. Time spent reflecting helped: planning for when life could go back to the way we once knew and making a visual jar of future dreams really helped take Alice’s mind off the everyday news.
A few months passed and calls became less frequent and I knew that the easing of restrictions would be having a positive impact on Alice.
One Friday afternoon, and I was slowly working my way towards the weekend, Alice’s name flashed up on my phone. I hadn’t heard from Alice for a few weeks: when I answered Alice was so excited to tell me that she had being swimming in the sea (a past-time she loves), and had plans to see her Grandfather and lunch at her favourite café. Life as Alice once knew it was slowly returning to normal. Alice understood that this could change again, but for now was going to embrace what she loved safely. Alice knows that Covid-19 is still in our world and knows that I am just a phone call away when she needs advice or just a listening ear.
I know from our conversations that Alice is a strong lady; she loves her routine but has learned that she can be flexible, patient and that she can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Coronavirus has taught me so much and changes that I will keep with me forever. I have been lucky to meet a lovely person in this pandemic who taught me so much too.
Family Engagement Consultant, MacIntyre
* name changed