This morning I was invited to share morning coffee with the residents of Dunstan Court, part of St Vincent’s Housing Association. I sat at a table with four gentleman who were happy to share their views about frailty, and how isolation can happen to anyone.
Two of the group had lived alone in the houses they shared with their wives before they passed away. They both described the process of denial, telling visitors that all was well, but in reality they were struggling with loneliness. For one of them, he told me how it had taken his youngest son (who is a straight talker) to point out that he wasn’t himself and that perhaps he needed some help. Thankfully, both men had previously dealt with the fantastic staff at Dunstan Court and turned to them for help. Now they are living in the housing complex which has massively improved their quality of life, they can meet up with each other in communal areas and even have a weekly darts match.
The men told me that the residents look out for each other, as well as the staff looking after them. They had no issue with the word frailty and felt that a set of questions that would identify areas of need could only be a welcome addition. Asking the questions would help families and others identify where help was needed and they felt that connecting with people in the waiting room as they visit GPs would be an ideal opportunity. They said a chat about what was bothering them always made them feel better, and that could be with anyone, but they really valued seeing the GP that knew them best. I am pleased to say that they saw the value in our project, particularly in sharing the information with the practice.
We will be starting the first Frailty Checkups in the next couple of weeks with the residents.
Thank you to all who shared their time with me this morning, and to Gail and Rachel (the staff at Dunstan Court) – your residents think the world of you!