Bob’s Blog 8: Communication in Lockdown

Way back in March I had a very short holiday at Leuchie. When I arrived on the 16th I had my temperature taken and hands sanitised before going through to the quiet room and meeting the other twelve guests. Helen Ross, Guest Engagement Manager, then told us the bad news that no outside entertainers would be allowed in so it was to be home-grown entertainment for the holiday. And also the really bad news that we wouldn’t be allowed any trips out.

At lunch on Tuesday Mark Bevan, CEO, addressed us all and said that he had bowed to guidance from the Scottish Government’s Health Department and gave us the sad news that Leuchie would have to send guests back home as soon as arrangements could be made. Everybody understood the need to abruptly curtail the holiday and took in the sad news. Most of the guests left the following morning so I had the house pretty much to myself, as I couldn’t get my care package organised until Thursday. I made good use of the time.

Before I left home I had a list of questions about my iPhone and Amazon Echo (Alexa) to ask the new Digital Skills Support person, Elizabeth McDowell. Helen gave these to her when I arrived and luckily there was time to get most of the answers with a promise of the rest of them later. A great new resource for Leuchie*and I recommend anyone who has IT problems to solve to bring them along when they come for their next holiday, whenever that may be.

Not strictly communication but Elizabeth showed me how to connect a Ring doorbell to my Alexa. Unfortunately, my electrician was not doing any work until the end of lockdown, so this project is on hold.

I had been communicating with Elizabeth by email, and when the Black Hand Gang at the Canal Society, who keep the Linlithgow Canal Society operation running, suggested a coffee morning meeting on Zoom, Elizabeth came to the rescue and helped me set it up. Zoom is great free App, for your mobile, for anybody wanting to have a face to face conversation with a group of friends or family. I have found out there is a YouTube video that shows you how to set up Zoom. It is like Skype but everybody thinks it’s better. Helen, suggested I join a “Zoominar” set up by AbiltyNet, a charity facilitating the solution to IT issues for disabled people. This was excellent. The only problem I had was that I needed my friend Phil to log me on to Zoom and take notes, as Siri, my voice activation, is not clever enough to enter access codes! I realise for those of you who are computer literate a lot of this is going to be like teaching “your grandmother to suck eggs”. Apologies! The Zoominar, a virtual seminar, was about how to get the best out of your Alexa.

Another friend, Ian, called me using Facetime, a video App which was already on my phone. The first time we called my phone was not positioned correctly in the holder, so we could talk but he could only see my right ear! Now I ask my carers to set up the phone correctly each morning, so if he calls he can now see my face!

There is also another free App for your phone called WhatsApp. It is extremely easy to download and as soon as it is installed it will find everybody in your address book that also has this App. The benefit of WhatsApp is you can talk or video chat to people abroad, like my brother in France, for free. As a result of this I found I didn’t need the premium add-ons with my landline provider. Taking the landline out could save more money, because I can now use WhatsApp for all my calls, International and Local. My provider didn’t object as I assume a lot of people are asking for a reduction in their bills because of financial problems due to the Covid-19 virus. You can also send images and videos without charge, which is costly with your normal text messaging service.

A school friend set up a WhatsApp group which connected a lot of us in our class. It has been great speaking with others in their 70s who I haven’t talked to for 55 years! My English teacher, now 87, is also on it and he remembers all of us, but insists on calling me Robert as he can’t get used to Bob. We even had a Zoom quiz which exposed big gaps in my memory.

It’s always great to talk to people, especially now in lockdown, as you can’t have a blether on the street or in the Pub! And as I have demonstrated, there are many ways to do this.


To read Elizabeth's blogs detailing how to download and operate the apps that Bob mentions click <<here>>

*We are incredibly grateful to the <<Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland>> who funded the role of Digital Skills Assistant. Technology can be life changing for our guests and carers and we've long recognised the need to help them by providing bespoke support. Elizabeth is show guests how best they can access the technology they need to make their lives easier and to help them feel more connected to the world.