Reducing isolation and loneliness
Mazeda is a Support Worker at our day opportunities service in Tower Hamlets.
Mazeda helps older people have fulfilled and stimulating lives and she prevents isolation by organising social activities like arts and crafts, exercise games and trips to the theatre. We asked about her role and how the service has changed since the start of the pandemic.
What’s the best part of your role?
I love getting to work with our customers - each day is different. They really seem to enjoy our support and we develop a bond. When I got back from a two-day holiday, one lady came over and told me she’d missed me. A lot of our customers have dementia, and they really come out of their shells here.
I also enjoy running the activities and taking them out for trips, like to the theatre or park. We take everyone’s opinions and choices into consideration. Recently, one person really wanted to do bingo on a Friday, so we did a session that day. And if anyone isn’t interested in a certain activity, we offer them something else. Over time I’ve come to realise what everyone prefers. I even know what they have for lunch now, because I’m so used to ordering for them.
What changed during the pandemic?
Covid had a massive impact on everyone, but especially on older people, many of whom had to shield for over a year. The Sundial Centre closed during the pandemic so we adapted the way we offered our day opportunities service.
We started going to their homes to check in on their wellbeing, have a chat and deliver lunch, or food supplies – whatever they needed really! This became so popular that we’ve made it a permanent part of our service. Now that there are more options, we also take them out for walks or drives. It’s just nice for them to see a familiar face.
How have the people you support responded?
We’ve received some amazing feedback for the way we’ve adapted our service during the pandemic. This is one of the comments we received:
“My mum has Alzheimer’s and has been going to the centre for over five years. When Covid-19 hit they supported her at home instead, which was a life saver. They visited her every weekday to keep her company and bring her a hot meal. They did her shopping, which was dearly needed, such as pasta, bread, sugar, flour, meat and little treats. As I work in South London it would have been impossible for me to do this.
“Now, Mum has been unable to come back to the centre, as the time spent at home had its toll on her. She no longer walks and very rarely talks, which is part a parcel of her illness. But this hasn’t stopped the centre from working with her. They still bring mum lunch every day and spend precious time with her, keeping her going throughout the day. Mum lights up when she sees them. The staff at the Sundial Centre are very caring, understanding, knowledgeable, helpful and just fantastic. It takes special and dedicated people to do this job. Without them my mum’s life would be a lot different.”
It's so heart-warming to get feedback like this because we tried so hard to make everything work for our customers who was in isolation. When Covid struck we were scared too, and we had to find a different way of working with the customers in their homes and keeping ourselves safe as well as the customers but the people we support always come first.
Now the Centre’s open again, there are lots of new people joining our new day opportunities service. But we’re still providing home visits for anyone can’t come into the centre.