Volunteer’s virtual visits
For volunteer Janet Lawrence, the first lockdown last March meant her regular weekly befriending visits to Larkrise Care Centre in Banbury had to cease temporarily. Knowing how much Janet’s visits mean to residents and to Janet herself, Larkrise Home Manager Lyndsay Sard asked if she would like to continue speaking to residents over Skype instead, which she has been doing ever since.
We asked Janet about this change to her routine and what it has meant to her and those she speaks to at Larkrise.
How did you become a volunteer?
I was visiting a friend who was a resident in the home and was asked by the Activities Coordinator if it was possible for my church to come in on a Sunday afternoon for a short service because some of the residents had asked about it. So, we did and continued to go in once a month on a Sunday afternoon.
From that time, I started going in more often, because I found there were things I could help with, and I enjoyed being with the residents.
What does your role as a volunteer involve?
I’m happy to help with anything really!
Before the national lockdown, I often helped with activities in the home’s club room, art work, games such as skittles (this can be very energetic for the one picking them up!), word games, Scrabble, choosing hymns for the services on Sunday, cleaning out the budgies' cages, making tea at fundraising events, and once I even helped in the laundry!
Getting to know the residents and chatting to them is a big part of my role and one I was keen to continue during the pandemic.
How did lockdown affect your visits?
I stopped visiting in person because being over 70 myself we were advised to stay at home and minimise contact with others. I did not want to risk the possibility of bringing the virus into the home.
Lyndsay suggested we start up virtual visits instead, over Skype.
How was meeting virtually different to usual?
My daughter lives in Canada so I am confident using Skype to keep in touch and talking on a screen; I didn’t feel it made a huge difference to me.
For some of the residents it is different, especially if they have not seen me in person before. As I am at home, I can easily show them things that can spark off a conversation.
It can only be a second best to actually being in the same room as someone, but I am pleased to be able to keep up a contact with my friends at the home. I pray that it will not be long before we can meet up again in person.
Larkrise resident Carmel said of Janet’s virtual visits:
“It means a lot that she talks to me, as any contact with people is nice at the moment with everything that’s going on. I enjoy seeing Janet on the screen and chatting about everything.
“She’s very easy to talk to!”