One of our volunteers, Shirley, tells us about her experience of using Facetime to keep in touch with the couple she regularly supports.

Before lockdown my respite visit to K & R was on a Thursday morning. When lockdown started, we decided on continuing to meet up on a Thursday using FaceTime.

We normally start at 10:15 as this gives R time to sort K out. I dial them and we normally talk for roughly 45 mins.

It would not be possible to talk to K over the phone as his conversational skills are not very good, and a 3-way telephone call would certainly be very difficult. It is lovely to see K smile when we start the meeting, and it is very comforting that he recognises me and knows who I am. R quite often gets him to dress up and he loves it when I remark on how dapper he looks!

He does manage to speak a little, but mostly smiles at the conversation between myself and R. After about 10 minutes he is fast asleep so that gives R a chance to have a chat. K has deteriorated quite a lot over the last few weeks, and I am very grateful that I have been able to continue the relationship via FaceTime.  I’m fairly sure it would be difficult to rebuild it when lockdown is over if we hadn’t been able to keep in touch in this way.

It does give us all something to look forward to, and I really enjoy our chats on a Thursday. When K was in respite care I still did the FaceTime meeting with R and I hope I have been able to give her a bit of moral support during what has been a very difficult time for her.

The main advantage video conferencing with tools such as FaceTime is that it makes it possible to have contact with the cared for person as well as the carer. It has also enabled me to spot the signs of stress in R that I think I would have missed if we only spoke on the telephone.

In conclusion, it has been a very positive experience (though I can’t wait to get back to normal respite visits!).”


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