There are many ways to support Strode this festive season.
Life during Lockdown
Strode Park’s Day Service was suspended at the very beginning of the pandemic. Life has been tough for our clients as they have had their routines tipped on their heads. We caught up with the family of one client who tell us about how their life has been during lockdown…
“His world is small, so we need to keep it as big as we can,” that’s how Andrew’s mum Janet is tackling lockdown head on.
The 57-year-old, who is mum to Andrew Grey, one of Strode Park Foundation’s Day service clients, is getting through lockdown with Andrew, the only way she knows how – structure, routine and a whole lot of positivity.
The family, who live in Deal, found the first two lockdowns quite novel. Janet explained: “Like everyone to begin with it was quite novel but as it’s gone on and we’re in the third lockdown now it’s getting tough.”
Andrew, who was coming to Strode Park’s day service five times a week, likes his structure and so as time ticks on so does the boredom and the bewilderment.
Janet added: “Anyone who comes to the door like the Amazon delivery man, Andrew is desperate to engage with. He can’t wait to get to the door and see a new and different face.
“It’s because this time round, the weather is different, we’re not able to go out as much as we were in the summer. Andrew is a real people person and he now has pockets of time where he hasn’t got anyone coming in and he’s sick of seeing me and his step dad,” says Janet in a joking manner.
Add this with juggling full-time work, Janet is ready to get back to the way things were. But she explains this isn’t as simple as it sounds. She went on: “My concern is when we come out of these lockdowns and get back to ‘normal’. Andrew thrives off of routine and I’m very worried and nervous about reintroducing the world back to him and how he’s going to cope with this significant change.”
26-year-old Andrew has learning disabilities and can’t communicate. He uses his body language to explain how he is feeling and his family, which he absolutely adores, have to guesstimate and manage the anxiety.
“We keep Andrew’s world as big as we can to give him as much opportunity as we can, but now it has shrunk to just the four walls around us,” said Janet.
“He really is fed up. We have been on Zoom and FaceTime video calls with his twin brother and his older sister and we’ve tried to meet up for walks but when he recognises them he gets very excited and wants to hug them.”
The ‘Grey-Days’ as Janet calls themselves are a very tight knit family and Andrew is at the centre of the family. She said: “We all talk ‘Andrew language’ and are all doing what we can to make the best of the situation for him.”
Janet added: “We did have a carer who was coming in and would go shopping, a bit of lunch, cinema, walks and Andrew would be out all day but now it’s changed again. It’s all shut down.
“Andrew now doesn’t have any weekends anymore. Before the pandemic Monday to Friday he knew what he was doing and his weekend was his chill out and family time but now it’s all just rolling into one.
“It’s silly things like Andrew would always have showers in the week and baths at weekends but we’re doing baths everyday now just to fill the day.”
With usual activities out the window, Janet laughed and said they are now getting in the car to go on drives to nowhere!
Although, back in the summer, when the Day Service resumed very briefly, she added: “Once he recognised the journey and the fact we were going beyond Deal and on our way to Strode his demeaner changed. He was suddenly excited about interacting with familiar people and faces.”
She continued: “It made such a difference and that excitement and happiness would last over a few days.”
We ended our conversation on a high. Janet said excitedly: “We had our vaccines on Sunday. So for once we went out on a drive with somewhere to go.”