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Health & wellbeing

Over the last year, older people
across the city have stayed in and
some have shielded.

Mary Webb expresses her thanks on behalf of the NHS and explains how a new campaign aims to keep older people safe and well as restrictions ease.



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April 2021

Older people have been heroes over the last year – and health services in Leeds want to express their thanks. It’s been a long, hard year for older people in Leeds. Many have shielded, all have restricted their movements. It’s not been easy. Health Services in the city are uniting to recognise the sacrifices that have been made. The NHS is keen to acknowledge the efforts of older people and over the page Mary Webb explains how a new campaign is helping to keep older people safe over the coming months.

First of all, we hear from an older person who has shielded. Pauline Tuft has pretty much spent the
last year at home. Yet she remains robust and upbeat. As she told us, “By nature I always try to stay positive. I believe in counting your blessings.” She even finds time to support others who are having a hard time by speaking to them on the phone. We thought it would be good to get our own “Pauline Pep-Talk”, so we rang her for a chat about her life and how she’s coping.

Be willing to accept any help that you may need. Stay positive – and just remember to always count your blessings.
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Tell us about yourself Pauline.
I’m 76. I was born in Holbeck, but we moved about a bit. We moved to Castleford with my Dad’s job. Then back to Leeds where we stayed for years. I met my husband in Leeds. He was in the Air Force. We finished up living in Garforth. My husband died at 52. I was only 51. It was cancer. I nursed him at home. From being diagnosed to dying was only six months. A short time before that my Mum had died of cancer. I nursed her too. She died within 2 months of diagnosis.

I was a social worker. I ran a residential home for elderly people who were mentally ill. I finished having to retire from my job because I was getting blackouts. I was fed up staying at home, so I became a Samaritan. People phoning with their problems. You got a lot of people who were suicidal. Depression. Some really bad cases. And some horrible men!

I had to sell the house I was in because of ill health. I was falling down the stairs and struggling to
get a shower, and that sort of thing. So now I live at a retirement complex called Ingram Court. It used to be called sheltered accommodation. I don’t know why they changed the name, maybe it sounds posher!
What about the last year?
When the Covid pandemic started, I was frightened.Not for myself, but for my son, daughter-in law, grand- daughter and grandson – they’re all in the front-line workers. My grandson is in the police force and the others are in hospitals. But then the biggest shock came. My son was diagnosed with leukaemia. He’s doing well now. He’s not completely out of the woods yet. And my grandson got Covid. He’s 28. It was all a bit of a shock. Then I got ill. I started shaking from head to foot, violently so. Enough to throw me on the floor. And if I go on the floor I can’t get up. In the past year I’ve been in hospital twice.
How have you coped with staying in?
I find my own little ways of coping. You’ve got to. At the end of the day, we’re only being asked to stay at home. The family got me this Alexa and it’s one of those things – oh God, it’s gone off now! It heard me saying its name!
Ha ha! You mean one of those internet devices that speaks to you?
That’s right. The rest of the family all got bought too. So, we can see each other and talk to each other.
That’s been a lifeline. Television is now my best friend. It’s never off. Even if I’m not watching it there are people’s voices. I’ll watch anything that’s going. I record everything! I get a daily telephone call from the wardens. They’re really nice girls. They’re having to work from home. But I really appreciate that. Holbeck Together is another lifeline. They do such a lot for us.

A lot of people do ring me if they’re not coping. People who I know. They ring day or night. A lot of people don’t cope. We need to help people think positively.I sit at my window, looking out. I love it when it rains or snows – because it looks different. If I’m fed up of the lounge I go into the bedroom and read. Just little things. If you start to be aware that you’re down, you do something to get you back up.

I’ve been shielding for a year, nearly. I did go out between lockdowns. We had a day trip to Saltburn. But I’m back in now. I’ve had the vaccine. Roy, the driver at Holbeck Together, took me. It all went fine. I had a sorearm and a bit of a headache. But theday after that everything was normal.

What would you say to people reading this who might be struggling?
Be willing to accept any help that you may need. Stay positive – and just remember to always count your blessings.

Thanks Pauline! If you’re struggling to stay positive try these unusual tips - sent to us by Tina Frost, who is part of the Age Friendly Steering Group:

1. Have you ever tried challenging yourself to Scrabble - and beating yourself - and marching round the room between rounds to increase your step count?

2. Or cutting your own hair? Finding it looks a bit lopsided so trying to tip your head to one side.

3. Planting lots of seeds but not writing down where or what they are. So you will be really amazed and taken by surprise when they sprout.

What do you do to stay positive – let us know!

Thinking of you

Over the last year, older people across the city have stayed in and some have shielded. The NHS in Leeds wants to say thank you! Mary Webb explains below.

Thank you
We at the NHS recognise the significant contribution people over 60 have made to keep safe and well; and to avoid the transmission of coronavirus.

“In Leeds we are an Age Friendly and Age Proud city - and we recognise the significant contribution residents in Leeds bring to the life of the city. We are aware that the pandemic, ensuing lockdowns and shielding has brought upset, isolation and detachment to older people in Leeds and we would like to thank them for their continued support and understanding during a difficult time.”

Dr Lesley Freeman, GP and Clinical Lead for frailty at Leeds NHS CCG

The Best Advice
The NHS in Leeds worked alongside Leeds City Council and the community and voluntary sector to give out additional funding to organisations providing support for older people. As part of our Age Proud and Age Friendly ethos and values, we acted swiftly in response to the pandemic to give the best advice to our older residents.

“We will ensure our residents aged sixty and over are offered the best possible advice in the future. By working together with the NHS and Third Sector organisations we will offer practical advice on staying COVID-19 safe, as well as ensuring people can make the most of new and existing resources available to them and stay well, connected and active during this unprecedented time.”

Cllr Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Older People, Leeds City Council.

Older people at work
Key information and advice has been shared with employers and employees in Leeds. There are huge numbers of over 60s still working and they need support. Employers and employees should take steps to protect themselves, colleagues and customers to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission. This also included advice for skilled tradespeople over 60 who need to access people’s homes. This information was made available in lots of different languages, and in Easy Read formats. Now, as we move to a more positive landscape where many residents above the age of sixty have or are receiving their COVID-19 vaccines, we move to a roadmap of recovery, people of all ages are looking to a brighter future.

A new campaign
At the heart of the campaign, partners across the city are promoting the following ways to stay safe:

• aim to reduce physical contact and avoid areas of high footfall;

• discuss ways to reduce transmission risk with employers and minimise situations that brings close contact with people, especially indoors;

• plan leisure time to include leaving the house around quieter times of the day to reduce the
risk of being in close physical contact with others;

• physical exercise is important – maintain a two-metre distance to stay safe;

To find out more about the campaign and to get tips to keep family, friends and colleagues safe please visit

Over the next few months, Shine will update you on how the health campaign to keep older people safe is developing. Watch this space!

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