Covid19 is undeniably a terrible thing. However, it helped illuminate our basic human need to be connected. And that need is real for people of all ages, in all economic and geographic areas. The current pandemic has caused isolation and loneliness to become even more widespread. 40% of us reported being lonely even before COVID19 hit, so imagine what percent are lonely now. Some people were lucky enough to be locked down at home with their families. Others, who already lived alone were forced to stay home to keep safe. In the long term care facilities, people waited to see their loved ones, until that was no longer an option.
Being constantly at home became difficult for most people, including me. I couldn’t figure out how I could help. I followed all of the government’s recommendations, but it didn’t seem like that was enough. Doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, transportation workers, were all out there keeping our lives liveable and caring for our sick. The pandemic was putting many at risk, and segregating most.
People were alone and helpless, often separated suddenly from their loved ones and society completely.
Horror stories began to come in on a daily basis, on news channels. The information was overwhelming, inconsistent, and creating rampant fear. Although the stories were over-exaggerated, they really didn’t need to be. It was truly horrific. People were being quarantined, wives ripped away from husbands, children ripped from parents, as they were hooked up to a ventilator, to be left all alone, barricaded by plastics and walls, to wait to see if they could live through the awful condition, or not. It’s unimaginable to many. Quite disturbing was photos of the people saying hello, and goodbye, to loved ones through a widow. Even that was a privilege most didn’t get. While these terrible situations raged on, some people took to Zoom and other platforms to attempt a continuance of some sort of productivity. Overnight, the employed portion of humanity learned to use a video camera, mute their mic, dress well from the waist up.
The world hopped onboard video conferencing technology at an astounding speed, and off we were to work from home. Some of us, that is.
Some didn’t have access to a device, data, or internet. People badly needed connection and used tech to keep in touch. It was also a great distraction from what was going on outside of our homes. But what was happening to those who have no people around them, no internet or digital device? They were the forgotten and were unable to get information, stay connected, or even say their last goodbyes.
While so many became dependant on information passed through Zoom or similar platforms, our vulnerable people became more vulnerable, more in the dark, and more alone.
During the mess of the first few months fighting COVID19, the media turned it’s focus to the awful treatment in long term care homes. That turned into a nation pointing the finger and calling for change. The people in long term care are often supported through daily tasks by family members, but with families now not being permitted to enter the long term care facility, many older people went without getting basic needs met. The stories about what was going on inside the facilities are shocking and unforgettable.
It’s good that the poor treatment of the elderly was exposed, but, it came at the cost of so many older adult’s comfort and basic needs.
Perhaps my own experiences of isolation and fear are the reason I became obsessed with creating ways for more individuals to access communication tools. As phases 1, 2, and 3 of our re-opening in Ontario rolled out, I decided to act on my heart’s concern and make something happen.
So, I found a way to distribute (purchase and loan) tablets to those in need. Once I knew it was possible to create this service, I made a plan to deliver the tablets, and help people learn to use them. I wanted to keep it simple, and to customize each one, so the user can contact the people he or she loves. Now, I am setting out to find those people. I am racing against the clock, and the second wave of COVID19, so more people can be connected if they become locked down again. I’m starting to distribute the tablets safely and do remote customization, as COVID19 comes back. The tablet service gave me hope for the people in long term care specifically. Out of this activity, my new company was born. I called it Bridge n Brighten, and developed more services to help isolated people.
It could mean that some people will get a chance to say goodbye, or meet new grandchildren, when otherwise, they couldn’t.
Or, they could get the hope they need to fight through the virus and come out victorious. This has the potential to change many lives.
Do you know someone who is unintentionally isolated because they have no mobile device? What message would you text them right now, if you could?
I’ve looked at all the barriers to access people might have and I’ve tried to offer a product and service that overcomes those barriers. I wanted it to be simple, affordable, low-risk, and not have a long complicated contract. So I made it a tablet loan service.
With a new tablet and access to the data or wireless, they can connect to friends and family, or make new friends, see the news, access beautiful art and photography, even participate in medical appointments, and so much more. Perhaps they would be joyously looking at photos and videos of you and the rest of their friends and family and reaching out to ask how you are doing. After all, many of these people are the loving parents, grandparents, teachers, police officers, and many others, who raised us and kept us safe when we were too young to take care of ourselves. They built our community. They are our foundation. Let’s lift them up.
If you want to learn more about how we can help the lonely and isolated, or get involved and help, join our Bridge n Brighten Facebook group, “Isolation Warriors” and follow us on Instagram or Twitter. Also, keep an eye on our Youtube Channel, as we are adding content as we gather information.
For now, signing out, and wishing you quality connections and wellbeing,
The Isolation Warrior