Musings from overseas

Monday, April 13, 2020 Ann Earley

Good morning, I think this is a brilliant idea but first I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Ann and I'm mum to Simon who has learning difficulties. Currently, I'm under lockdown in France and have been for a month now. This was not the intention but events moved very quickly here, by the time I had taken the dog to the vet ready for our return to the Uk and changed the booking on the ferry the plug was pulled and all sailings cancelled, hence I'm on this side of the Channel and Simon on t'other. In some ways this has made it easier as he realises that short of swimming I ( and the dog) can't get home. Had we been home it wouldn't have been extremely difficult for him to understand that he couldn't visit and , as we live in the same village very , very hard for him. Si lives in a supported living house with fantastic staff, many of whom have cared for him ( less the Winterbourne View break) for over 20 years so they are 'family'. I thank goodness that before I left I bought a refurb tablet for him and installed Whatsapp and Google Duo, this has been our lifesaver.

After the Uk lockdown the staff put in place a well though out plan and we shared ideas to occupy Si. His normal routine is to be out of the house and driving or bussing out each day. It is after his incarceration at WV extremely hard to corral him in the house. The staff had stockplpiled various items for distribution to all the houses in one place, and it has been Simon's 'job' complete with lanyard to collect these and distribute them where needed, this he called his mission. All was progressing nicely until disaster struck and a staff member went sick with a cough and sore throat. As you can imagine this caused great consternation and because they were unable to get a test for him full lockdown and disaster ensued. The staff member is prone to throat problems but obviously they had to assume the worst case scenario.

Simon resented the staff having aprons and masks, refused to wear them himself and generally went into a complete tail spin. Video calls to me increased until they were every half and hour or so, he cried, begged me to come home, damaged everything within reach and self harmed quite badly. For two days complete mayhem ensued. After a request on Facebook the village pitched in and arrived with outdoor games to play and brilliant suggestions for entertainment ideas. The top one was a welly throwing contest! A Whatsapp meeting with his brother and 3 year old niece, his pregnant sister and myself calmed things enormously and a huge crying jag resulted in a good night's sleep and a much calmer outcome in the morning. A desperate phone call to the local police resulted in the vulnerable adult's unit authorising the staff to enable them to take Si out in the car providing he didn't get out in a public place. Peace returned. I scoured Amazon and bought an Echo which can tell him Knock, Knock jokes and apparently farts to order. Sorry about the language but who knew? Of course this has delighted Simon. Various other craft items were bought including Plaster of Paris and some moulds so he's busy making and decorating them for gifts. Baking has also been a great thing for him to do.

So that's about where we stand at the moment. It was immensely distressing to see him so distraught and be unable to help but I know he's in a great place with wonderful staff and many others aren't so lucky. My apologies for hogging all this space with such a lengthy entry. Stay safe and we'll everyone and we will come out the other side.

Ann x