Pauline’s energy and enthusiasm have been a source of inspiration for the BGF team and our clients. Her positivity transcends technology and her regular conversations with clients over the phone has been a positive experience for both parties. We spoke to Pauline about the importance of connection, supporting the wider community during these difficult times and how she’s handled COVID-19 restrictions.
Throughout COVID-19 Pauline has continued to liaise with BGF support workers and manage the BGF reception.
"I’m working two days of BGF reception and one day doing BGF support work each week. I try and treat the day as any normal day, by keeping my usual routine as much as possible. BGF Support Workers sometimes call to check on client appointment changes or simply to say hello and keep connected. I enjoy chatting with our clients when they call, it is a great way to break up the day for them and for myself, particularly under these isolation restrictions."
Due to COVID-19, more people than ever who need support have sought out BGF for some form of assistance. Even if they are not HIV positive, Pauline still attempts to assist them by redirecting them to a more appropriate service.
"My shifts on reception are quite busy, there are lots of phone calls from people who are looking for various forms of support during this CV19 situation, however, many of these enquires are from people who are not HIV+, so we are unable to offer them assistance outside of suggesting other avenues they might look into."
Pauline’s interactions with clients have had to evolve alongside the situation, with COVID-19 restrictions gradually increasing to the point where, in some cases, she can no longer visit them at all. However, she nonetheless makes sure that she is in frequent contact with them.
"I see one particular client, who I have been working with for over nine years. He is in a nursing home, so there have been some challenges there. At first, I was able to visit him at the home, but not take him out anywhere, such as shopping or out for a walk. But I was able to do those tasks and still see him when I got back to the home. Now, with higher restrictions in place, I am no longer allowed access to the nursing home and I have to leave deliveries at the gate and wait for someone to come and collect them. But I do call him regularly on the phone to see how he is and he is very grateful for the support he has been receiving."
While it is personally difficult for Pauline to no longer be able to interact face-to-face with many of the people she would normally see as part of her work, she and other BGF Support Workers are still able to make a difference in her client’s lives by being as present for them as possible. Through their work, the isolation clients may otherwise experience is greatly reduced.
"The challenging thing for me is that being a very social person, I miss people’s faces. I do not mind working from home, I do like my own company, but I really do miss seeing everybody.
I really can’t wait for the restrictions to be lifted, so I can visit my client in person again, we do miss each other. His biggest concern is how long this is going to go on for. He is very confident about maintaining his health with the nursing home being very strict on hygiene and adhering to the social distancing restrictions that are in place. I think the biggest impact for clients is not being able to get out and about either with someone or independently, and they are feeling very isolated. Without BGF Support Workers, many of them would be feeling very lost and alone, so the work we are doing as an organisation is invaluable."