Bridging the gap during COVID-19

Coronavirus is affecting us all, and there are people in our community who are especially vulnerable. That hasn’t stopped Assured Home Care clients like Carol, however, from discovering new ways to continue to socialise and enjoy ‘normal’ activities.

For Carol, the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious concern. Having previously suffered a stroke that left her with some memory loss and a suppressed immune system, Carol was one of many clients considered high-risk.

Confined to the home since the start of the pandemic, she has been unable to attend the regular art therapy classes, mahjong and bridge club meetings that she loves, activities that provided her with a chance to get out of the house, socialise and as Carol puts it, ”keep the mind sharp”.

Keen to fill the gap, Carol has since been tutoring Assured Support Worker Josh in regular sessions of “virtual” bridge.

During a casual conversation – prior to the enforcement of serious self-isolation restrictions – Josh, one of her regular support workers, expressed an interest in learning bridge.

“I grew up playing 500 with my family,” Josh explains.

“Bridge is basically a more complicated version of that, so I’ve been wanting to give it a go for a while now.”

As a long-time member of the Unley Bridge Club, Carol offered to teach him to play online using a website called Bridge Base. The ability to play online has provided an excellent opportunity to continue socialising safely in isolation, while also sharing her expertise.

“Carol’s been very patient with me throughout,” Josh laughs.

“There are a lot of rules in Bridge, and many of the meanings behind the cards aren’t always obvious,” he says.

“It requires a lot of strategy and a good memory. The best players remember every card that’s been played.”

“But, I’m slowly getting up to speed.”

Accessibility isn’t always easy

Previously a high-level competitive player, Carol’s condition was already restricting her ability to participate prior to COVID-19 restrictions.

Having recently lost a leg due to complications with blood clots, Carol now requires the use of a wheelchair.

“I will be able to walk again with a prosthetic, but because of the virus, my rehabilitation had to be put on hold,” she says.

Even before COVID-19, “It’s not been easy to get around!” she explains with frustration.

That’s where Josh came in, providing transport assistance.

“He’s got a big car, which is a huge help.” explains Carol.

“And he’s a strong young lad so he can handle it [the wheelchair].”

Making an impact

While relatively new to the team, having only started at Assured in December last year, Josh is already making an impact.

“He’s booked solid!” laughs Assured Disability Support Partner Meridee as she looks over his roster.

“He has a knack for building a rapport with clients. Often, after one or two shifts they’ll ask for him to return!” she says.

Josh is very humble about this.

“I think I’ve just been very lucky in who the coordinators have matched me with. Good coordinators matching me to good clients,” he says.

Having previously worked in the hospitality industry, Josh decided to get into community support after a conversation with a family friend who also works in the industry.

“I worked in kitchens for about 18 years,” Josh explains.

“But it takes a toll on you physically and I wanted a role that allowed me to be more sociable. To do more for the community, otherwise life gets a bit stagnant.”

“Initially, youth work was where I was heading and I might come back to that. But, at the moment, I’m enjoying just seeing where life goes.”

And, for now that includes two hours every Thursday online with Carol, something she is very much enjoying.

“He’s very quick, got a young brain, so he picks it up quickly,” she says.

“It’s good! Helps test you, and gets the brain working!”

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