Self-help in self isolation


The message told me that I had been reinstated on the register of doctors licensed to practice (I am otherwise listed on the register as retired from clinical practice).

This unusual state of affairs is a consequence of the Coronavirus crisis – the Government and GMC looking for ways to increase the number of clinicians able to work in the effort to combat the pandemic. A really excellent initiative.

Taking all things into account, including issues of my own health, and my involvement in a range of other activities, I have chosen to opt out of this scheme. Otherwise my name and contact details would be forwarded to local NHS organisations, who might approach me to offer appropriate employment. This is a far cry from the knee-jerk reaction two or three weeks ago which designated everyone over 70 ‘vulnerable’ and thus required to stay indoors and depend on younger family, friends or neighbours to fetch and carry for them, while they drive themselves crazy with rainy-day diversions. Actually, many of us can find plenty of wonderful things to do if confined to quarters – it is just that the over-inclusive age-related edict raised hackles.

Amelia Hill cites examples of guerrilla movements amongst older people who are indoors: an 85-year-old lady who is part of a church-based telephone support group, an 80 year old who phones his friends with a daily joke! And a network of motor car enthusiasts aged 88-103 who just keep in touch by telephone to talk cars.

Elderly people in UK set up support networks to tackle coronavirus

Local care homes let the outside world know what is happening via websites, Facebook and similar. They will receive information in the same way plus emails, telephone calls and items brought to the front door.

We contribute to raising people’s spirits now and later in the year by attending to birds in the park aviary – and preparing flower beds – useful outputs from our daily ration of exercise. Interestingly the age range of our active volunteers has now strayed below 50 – everything done strictly in keeping with the rules of cleanliness and distancing.

This is a terrible time, but we are finding a way.

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