Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire
Why do we want to do this?
We have a profound passion for the elderly, given we get to see their daily struggles through our working careers.
Over the last few years especially around Festive periods, particularly Christmas time, we would all naturally spend time with families and friends, exchange gifts, play a few games and just have a Merry old time.
But for Care Givers at Essential health, it is often met with sadness and loneliness for the elderly, tears and a general decline in themselves.
Some have no one at all, no gifts, no contact from family, some don’t even have a single piece of tinsel.
Each year we would try to introduce some decorations, if only a plug-in candle, something that could resemble Christmas.
Christmas dinner was not on their menu, despite those in receipt of care, we would never see those we cared for without.
More than half of our work force including management spend Christmas Day cooking up Christmas dinners and Yorkshire Puddings because it’s often more than half of them that have no family.
Over the years despite all our efforts I felt that something more was needed to stop this loneliness, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.
Day in day out, some of our elderly wouldn’t see a soul except the carers, charities that could help were often unable to, due to the volume needed and the continuous funding cuts.
Christmas day I had 4 dinners to deliver, and I knew if I woke up at 6 I could be on the road for 11 which would give me enough time to get to each one by lunchtime.
I took Christmas dinner, napkins, pudding and a Christmas cracker. I laid each table as they liked and in doing so the dinner was placed on the table along with the Christmas Cracker.
On my last visit I had to brace myself before I went into the home, because I knew how much sadness Christmas brings to this gentleman, one look would bring me to tears.
He was seated waiting for me at the window, staring down at the decorated place mat the carer had placed for him on his make shift table.
I put the dinner in the microwave because he didn’t have an oven.
On my usual visits we would have great conversations and exchange opinions on political subjects, but not today, because unlike other days, today Is Christmas, today is meant for sharing love, conversation, laughter and cheer.
All he wanted was to have some company, not just today but through the year, someone else he could sit and talk to.
As I was leaving I felt my heart sinking, I knew if I looked back after saying, have a lovely Christmas, enjoy your dinner I hadn’t achieved exactly what he wanted.
I slowly held the door handle and pulled it towards me;
“Right I’m going, have a lovely day, enjoy your dinner and put the tele on and watch some Christmas movies.”
“oh, right” he said, “so I guess I should ask the tele to hold the other half of this”?
I looked back and saw him slouched in the wheelchair holding out the Christmas cracker.
At that point it struck me that my Christmas dinner and Crackers meant nothing.
I turned around, closed the door, turned on the radio and sat back down, he wheeled over to me and gave me one end of the cracker.
He won, I lost, he wore the hat, read out the joke and I laughed.
The morale of the story is, caring and assisting with practical daily living for our elderly is not always enough, times have changed, people have naturally become so busy with their own lives. The generation whereby you took care of your elderly neighbour has long since gone. 35 years ago, the elderly generation were treated with absolute respect by the community, the daily neighbourly visit, grocery trip or paper collection was a natural thing to do. The elderly was reliant on their community and would rarely be seen so isolated as they are today.
We must do something to stop this loneliness, Age UK North staffs have had more funding cuts and cannot help as much as they would like without sponsors and our local community.
Therefore, we are asking people to help Essential health to raise money for this amazing charity, Age UK North Staffs.
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