DURING the latter part of March last year, my 88-year-old housebound aunt began to feel unwell. She took herself to bed for a few days and told me – as her carer – not to visit and that she had plenty of food and supplies.
In the early hours of April 5, she had a fall and was able to text me, although unable to get back on to her feet. I rang for an ambulance and met the first responder at her home.
He said all my aunt’s obs (sic) were fine and that she was showing no signs of coronavirus, but that he wanted her to be admitted to hospital because she could not support herself with her walking frame.
Twenty-four hours later, I was told that she had tested positive for Covid-19, which surprised me. Knowing now what I know regarding the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test,I wonder whether my aunt could have been a false positive statistic and may have caught the virus after being put in the Covid ward with genuine Covid patients.
I was also informed – as next of kin – that she had agreed to a DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) due to her age and her rather frail state.
Fortunately, she has made a full recovery and it was only months later that I recalled the DNAR, after reading of the scandal of how many of these orders have been made during 2020.
I asked my aunt whether she remembered agreeing to one and she vehemently remonstrated that most certainly she had not. She is physically disabled, though mentally as sharp as a button.
During further communication with the health board complaints team and after involving her MP, my aunt has been told that once restrictions are lifted, she can make an appointment to discuss the DNAR.
Worryingly, it is still on her medical file and the concerns team are aware that she is housebound and unable to attend any appointments. Why are they not listening?
In my opinion, the four largest supermarkets are just as complicit in treating the elderly with disdain. I started to place online grocery orders on my aunt’s behalf, yet the first was dumped on the doorstep – some of it unbagged – by a delivery driver who was too frightened to enter the house.
It was only when my aunt opened her door and began to cry as the driver was retreating – she cannot lift even the lightest of bags without extreme difficulty – that the driver relented.
We have tried each of these supermarkets and none will guarantee that their drivers will actually deposit the shopping inside the house, even in the hallway. It is at the discretion of each driver as to how safe they feel. Yet I am able to work in a food hall and come into contact with several hundred people each day.
I now make the 190-mile round trip to my aunt’s each time the online delivery is due because she does not even have any Good Samaritan neighbours prepared to offer help. So much for the ‘we’re all in this together’ slogan.
With the closure of schools for most of 2020 due to the Covid crisis, my part-time teaching stopped and my part-time retail job became my main source of employment.
Whilst other colleagues were furloughed, I have worked throughout. Many of our regular customers are elderly and it pains me to see just how frightened the majority have become. I have seen customers wearing yellow rubber kitchen gloves and being frightened to overtake fellow customers in shopping aisles.
Recently I was asked to remove a stray item from a conveyor belt by a customer, who presumably felt that there was a risk of death to her should she touch it. I was then asked to sanitise my hands after moving the offending item and before serving her.
Both she and her elderly husband then proceeded to transfer a large number of items from their trolley to the conveyor belt for checking out. These items were then touched by me and would in all probability have been handled by numerous people beforehand.
Fear is overtaking logic to an unfathomable degree and it is all down to hysterical media coverage. Now we are hearing that this pandemic may not even be ‘the big one’.
It is no wonder that even ten months into the original three-week lockdown to flatten the curve that we are still seeing customers who only now have decided to venture out to risk a trip for groceries.
If they are too afraid to go out regularly for food, no wonder elderly patients are not turning up at A&E departments and are dying at home.
This prolonged sedentary lifestyle will only put people more at risk of dying in their homes from cardio-vascular disease. More senior citizens will be at risk from diabetes and some cancers. Around 100 extra people per day have been dying at home during 2020.
I have seen a number of elderly masked people who have had to ask for a chair in my store after having dizzy spells. One lady told me that she was exempt, but wears a mask because she would feel bad if she didn’t. The colleagues I work with that struggle most with the masks are all over 50. Perhaps this is because lung capacity decreases the older one gets?
Some essential services to the elderly in their homes have been put on hold. If you have an ingrowing toenail or painful foot impediment, forget it. I have been told that unless there is some actual infection, mobile NHS podiatrists are not seeing elderly patients in the community. Not even to cut their toenails.
A cursory look on the website of the largest UK charity for the elderly tells me that there are plenty of articles on there regarding vaccines, advice on social distancing (no use to those housebound, whether through choice or situation) and leaving a charitable gift in one’s will. It all looks rather political than practical.
The media keeps espousing the mantra of ‘not killing Granny’, yet is anyone out there actively considering the daily predicament of Granny – and Grandpa, for that matter – before their own ‘safety’?