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BAB is a partnership of individuals and organisations working together to reduce isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.
Irene, 66, was referred to Community Navigators through the Community Resource Lead at her GP surgery. Irene was very “feeling very isolated, low and depressed. I didn’t go out at all. Loneliness and isolation work hand in hand and then depression escalates”. Irene now lives alone after her husband passed away 5 years ago and although she has some family in Bristol she felt as though she had pushed them away as a consequence of her anxiety and depression. Irene feared trying new things because she didn’t have the confidence to go alone and health condition results in her feeling tired very easily and limits her mobility.
Community Navigator, Laura, visited Irene 4 times and provided support through various phone calls and emails over a period of 6 months. “Community Navigators is an amazing service 100%. It’s easy, not stressful and the first contact is important – Laura makes you feel you can talk to her and you aren’t being judged. Laura signposted me to lots of different things – befriending, help with my garden, coffee morning, lunch club, housing options and helped me access financial support and counselling. She made it easier for me to try things on my own. Gave me encouragement and confidence.”
Problems with short term memory meant that Irene often forgot about things she planned to do and it was important to focus on a few activities at a time. Laura and Irene went through leaflets and wrote a timetable for the week with regular groups Irene was interested in doing. This helped simplify the information and ensured she had a reference for groups she could do. Memory loss also made Irene anxious about paying her bills and she often felt overwhelmed by it all. With Irene’s consent Laura referred her to the Money Smart team at North Bristol Advice Centre for support with managing her finances.
Irene was reluctant to try counselling after several failed attempts but recognised the importance of talking about her worries. Laura signposted Irene to Bristol Wellbeing Therapies to help her access appropriate counselling, which was successful. It was also important that Irene had someone to talk to informally and Laura referred Irene to Good Gym for weekly befriending: “I’m really happy with the match she is lovely, it really breaks up my week and gives me someone different to talk to.” Good Gym also provide one-off practical support for older people and, having been a keen gardener, Irene felt help with tidying her garden and painting her fence would really lift her mood so a referral was made for the team to help her.
Laura invited Irene to an Over 50’s Taster Day at a local community centre where Irene could find out about activities happening nearby. From this Irene was keen to try a coffee morning at the local church, “I go to the coffee morning every week now. They are all very welcoming even though I don’t go to their church.” Laura also accompanied Irene to a local lunch club, which they both enjoyed! “Laura made it easier for me to try new things on my own. It was a relief to have someone to encourage me, who would listen and understood my situation. Someone to hold your hand where you’ve been rejected before. I didn’t know who to ask for help. I feel ok now but if I’m struggling I know who to ask. My memory plays havoc with my anxiety so I know I should focus on one thing at a time now. Just one activity is enough for me at the moment but I know I can try something new when I want to.”
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