Helping people find their feet again!
Published on 27 May 2021 10:52 AM
As most people embrace the new freedoms the lifting of restrictions bring, many older people in Barnet remain scared to go out. So we have launched - Finding your Feet - a scheme to help give them confidence to get back out into the world.
‘It’s sad to see how people who just a year ago would have taken the bus to the shops for the afternoon without a second thought are now afraid to leave the house because they’re worried about tripping on uneven pavements,’ says Deborah from our Falls Prevention team, ‘They see hazards everywhere!’
Before the pandemic, they were independent and got around easily but have just lost confidence after long periods being confined to the home on their own.
An Age UK Survey that found that, compared with before the pandemic, one in three respondents said they had less energy, one in four were unable to walk as far as before, and one in five felt less steady on their feet.
‘It’ partly a loss of muscle strength and feeling a bit wobbly on the feet, and a little bit of fear about the virus still but the main barrier to leaving is the fear of the outside world,' says Deborah.
They are simply not sure what the world is like any more – living on their own, many haven’t seen a human being for months and they just need reassurance that it’s ok to go out again.
‘We found that many of the older people we took to their vaccine appointments were nervous at first but, once they were out, they adapted quickly, chatting to everyone on the bus and soon feeling like themselves again – this is how we hope our ‘Finding your feet’ clients will feel.
When someone is referred to the Finding your feet service, Deborah will visit their home to assess their mobility and provide exercises to build strength before they’re ready to venture out. Then Becky, who is coordinating the scheme, will match them with a trained volunteer to go out on regular walks together. The idea is that over a period of 4-6 weeks, they'll chat, offer emotional support and encourage them back into the world again.
‘They’ll start with short walks, which might be to the front gate and back, but will build towards an agreed goal, whether it’s going to the local shops, the park or attending a coffee morning,’ says Becky. ‘The idea is that they get to the point where they’re able to do what they did before the pandemic.’
Some of these pairings will turn into befriending relationships, a form of long term companionship where the volunteers and older person we’re supporting arrange to meet weekly for a chat.
Jenny, 75, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Edgware, says: ‘So many of the people in my sheltered housing don’t feel ready to leave their homes and they are genuinely afraid to mix in public again. This is exactly what they need to help them face the world again!’
If you or someone you know needs some help getting back out there, please give Becky a ring on 0208 150 0967 or email Rebecca.email@example.com. We cannot match volunteers with people who need a Falls Clinic referral but needing a walking frame or walking stick is not a barrier to referring on to the service.