Harold’s story

When Harold called our helpline back in March, he was in a desperate situation. A combination of cataracts, hearing loss, tinnitus and arthritis were making life incredibly difficult. Harold was depressed and told us that he felt there was no point going on.

Harold spoke to our emotional and wellbeing team who set up a package of support for him. Trained staff from Deafblind UK have been coaching Harold over a six-week period and supporting him to understand and rationalise his feelings.

Harold enjoyed our calls and fixing the day and time for each call provided him with some much-needed structure and continuity. During this period, it became clear that Harold was incredibly lonely and spent his days listening to numerous news bulletins about Coronavirus. He was feeling extremely anxious about the virus and the implications of the lockdown; about his chances of catching it and indeed his chances of dying from it. We talked about limiting his media consumption and reserving his listening to the more local news bulletins, which he appreciated. We talked about ways to manage his anxiety, and agreed on small, achievable steps to take. Gradually, Harold started to see a way out of this incredible isolation he was feeling.

Harold’s situation was made worse by his housing. He was living in a second floor flat with no lift facility, so leaving his home and going up and down the four flights of stairs, with his deafblindness and arthritis, made it all but impossible to leave the house. This greatly added to his sense of loneliness. Harold was due to move into a ground floor flat at the end of the summer, but the situation was causing him a lot of undue stress. We referred Harold to his local authority for a deafblind assessment, which will happen as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted. This might enable him to access specialist support to help him at home.

We were also able to help Harold to make use of his laptop, introducing him to some specialist programs and accessibility features which mean his sight loss doesn’t prevent him from using his computer.

Towards the end of the six-week support package, we set Harold up with a volunteer telephone befriender, who has arranged to call him twice a week for a general chat and to give him some company. When the lockdown restrictions have been lifted, Harold will also have a home befriender from Deafblind UK, to visit him regularly.

At the end of August 2020 Harold moved into his new flat, on the ground floor and as a result has been able to get outside into the fresh air much more easily and this has had a positive effect on his life.