I'm the primary, family, carer for my mother. She's 91 with COPD and mild dementia but still manages to live independently about 20 miles away in Farnborough. This is only possible with the excellent support we get from Hampshire Social Services ( both direct and indirectly via third-party providers) and a heap of technology including 2 voice assistants (Echo), 1 video assistant (Echo Show), multiple cameras (Blink), heating control, entry system, automatic drug dispenser and a 24-hour emergency call service (Argento).
In normal times, 'primary caring' is monitoring all of the tech, managing bank account payments to all the providers and then, once a week, filling Mum's drug dispenser, taking her to the hairdresser and then out to lunch at her favourite pub.
That has all changed. The hairdresser and the pub have closed for the duration of the lockdown. Mum is also, now, shielded because of her vulnerability. We have to keep visitors to the flat to an absolute minimum.
The technology has been fantastic. Using the Echo Show, we can 'drop in' on Mum and she can see us and chat without having to do anything herself. There is, however, one thing that I still have to do manually each week, fill Mum's drug dispenser. That experience has changed for us both.
I travel over to see her, taking a bit of shopping as well, half expecting to be pulled over by the Police to check I had a reason to be out. Not this time and on arrival, I do lashings of hand sanitiser before I enter the flat. On entry, it's shoes and coat off, mask and gloves on. Mum has got used seeing every visitor in the flat dressed like this and she finds it very amusing. The visit is kept to a minimum keeping a good 3m from Mum at all times until I realise that the batteries in her hearing aids have gone! Then she has to hand them to me to change.
They say we are always learning and I learned this weekend that you should always fill a drug dispenser BEFORE you change the batteries in a hearing aid when you are wearing protective gloves. The reason? Those little orange bits from the new batteries stick to your gloves and are almost impossible to remove! Putting fiddly little pills into a Pivotell auto dispenser is tricky. When you are wearing protective gloves it is very tricky. When your gloved finger have little orange wings, Grrrrr.... Next time I'll be ready.
The visit is over all too quickly. Before I go, though, Mum asks me how bad things really are? Having explained, she tells me that if she gets 'it' they shouldn't 'waste' a ventilator on her as she's 'had a good innings'. Now, she's been predicting her own demise for many years, always quite cheerfully and always with the 'good innings' quote. This time, however, it was quite tricky to leave without a hug.