Helping with the worries of a pandemic: Jenny’s story

06 October 2020

For many people living with mobility difficulties or other health issues, the sudden increase of online activities and services available has improved their quality of life. They have been able to make more connections and take part in more activities from home, and have not had to go through a difficult journey each time they have an appointment. But as restrictions ease, what will be here to stay, and what will return to the old way?

In August Guideposts Information Service heard from a young woman, Jenny, who lives with from Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and had been self-isolating at home during the Covid-19 crisis.

Although this was similar in many ways to her normal lifestyle, she had been enjoying being able to access a lot more from home than usual, including medical appointments and taking part in online pub quizzes.  She felt she was able to do more without it having a negative effect on her health, as none of her activities now needed her to go out.

However, Jenny was worried that as things were gradually returning to normal the online activities and services would stop and her health would suffer from having to go out to appointments again.

When potential changes are a significant threat to your health it can be very worrying. Many people have had to deal with this kind of worry over the Covid-19 crisis for different reasons. Have you experienced this kind of problem?  How did you cope with it?

When potential changes are a significant threat to your health it can be very worrying. Many people have had to deal with this kind of worry over the Covid-19 crisis for different reasons. Have you experienced this kind of problem?  How did you cope with it?

  • The first step is to recognise that you’re feeling worried and to look for ways to help. In this case, Jenny could have worried on her own but she felt she needed help and picked up the phone.
  • If your health isn’t in immediate danger, take the time to look at the possibilities and work out the facts. How likely is the change?  If it does happen, are there alternative solutions? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, who could you ask?

When Jenny called us our call handler, Avril, gave Jenny the time to talk about her situation. She helped her to think it through, and to break down the situation to make it clearer.

Avril reassured Jenny that a lot of things are continuing online, at least for the time being. She pointed out that there is no indication from the health service so far that appointments would stop being online wherever possible. Avril suggested that Jenny let her GP know how she valued online appointments and to ask about their continuation, so that she would have real information, and hopefully reassurance, rather than worrying about an unknown.

They also looked at Guideposts’ web pages Making Connections from Home to see just how many options for online activities there are. She admitted that although it’s hard to tell how long the current activities will continue, even if some of Jenny’s current favourites do end there are likely to be lots of other options. And now that the online way of doing things has been explored by many more people, new opportunities are likely to start up.

As their conversation progressed, Avril found out more about Jenny’s life and interests and discovered that she enjoyed playing the guitar and watching David Attenborough programmes. She suggested some musical and nature-related activities that she could do from home, and suggested she try an online chat-group for people with ME/CFS where she could connect with others in the same situation.

After the call, Avril sent Jenny some more details about the suggestions she had made. Jenny replied saying that she already felt less worried about the situation after their conversation, and she was looking forward to giving something new a try.

So if you are worrying about online services closing down as restrictions ease, remember to ask yourself the following:

  • How sure are you about this? So many services like banking and shopping have been available online for years. Who is to say health services won’t gain an online option, long-term?
  • Have you explored all the things you can do? There are hundreds of ways to stay socially connected and explore your interests online. We keep the Guideposts Making Connections From Home pages updated regularly and we’re expanding it all of the time with new services we find.

Support for people with long-term conditions and carers 

If like Jenny you have a worry, you can get free support from the Guideposts Information Service, call us on 0800 048 7035.

Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm, and calls to the support line are free. Alternative, you can email us at hereinfo@guideposts.org.uk, or talk to an adviser via webchat at www.guideposts.org.uk/information-service.