Two people on a Zoom screen smiling

A WIDOWED great-grandad who travelled the world during his time in the Air Force has thanked a Derbyshire charity for its loan and support of IT equipment which has kept him connected during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Treetops Hospice Care, based in Risley, are loaning out 12 tablets to patients with life-limiting conditions, meaning that they can now access the charity’s online services, which include one-to-one Wellbeing calls and virtual meetings with staff who are caring for them.

Patients are also given their own email address, as well as mobile data for those without internet access, and offered ongoing support via phone calls, to help them become more confident with technology. At the end of the three-month period, Treetops will help the patient to identify and source their own IT equipment.

Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund logoThe virtual Wellbeing activities, part of Treetops ‘Cake and Care’ programme, have been made possible through funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund with thanks to the Government. IT equipment has allowed a continuation of patient care in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary restrictions.

Technology has played an important role during the pandemic with 56% of participants, in a survey of more than 1,500 people, having reported spending more time interacting with friends using communication technologies, such as online chat services.

It’s frustrating not being able to get out of the house, but I’m getting a bit frightened to go out

Two people on a Zoom screen smilingEighty-four-year-old Harold Jepson, from Chaddesden, says that the technology has allowed him to see the people he usually socialises with at Treetops Wellbeing Café – albeit virtually. Harold, who spent 26 years working for Rolls-Royce after leaving the air force, hasn’t left his house since Christmas.


He said: “It’s frustrating not being able to get out of the house, but to be honest I’m getting a bit frightened to go out, you hear all sorts of stories.

“It’s a shame as I have two grandchildren and one great-grandchild, who I haven’t really been able to see over the last year.

“Using my tablet, though, I can now Zoom, and I get to see some of the other patients at Treetops doing it, too. You don’t get the same camaraderie as when you visit the Café, but you do see somebody different.”

So proud of how far he’s come and how this has opened up so many doors for him

Harold also uses the tablet to connect with Leah White, trainee occupational therapist at Treetops who’s incredibly proud of how far Harold has come on his technology journey. Leah said:

“Looking back from where Harold was at the beginning, he has become so confident in using this technology, he now calls me over Zoom to start the sessions! We still come across the odd challenge, but I am so proud of how far he’s come and how this has opened up so many doors for him.

“It is such a rewarding feeling to be able to say that I helped Harold open up this whole new world for him.”

It thoroughly brightens up the day

Harold said: “It makes a big difference to see Leah once a week and to do the chair-based exercise class. She’s very cheerful and it bucks me up. It thoroughly brightens up the day.

“I enjoy the exercises, as it’s really uplifting and something I look forward to.

“I went to the Men’s Group for a short time, which I used to really look forward to. When I was married – I was married for 50 years – I never had any real social life; my late wife, Edna, was quite shy and reserved, so she didn’t mix with other people. It was just the two of us until I came to Treetops.”

They’re trying to support us at this difficult time

Harold was diagnosed with COPD, a lung condition, in 2004 and referred to Treetops by the Impact Breathe Easy support group. He also has problems with his heart and struggles to get around.

“I can’t praise Treetops enough,” he said, “when I first started going, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never had to go to other people for assistance. I’ve always been the one that people came to being the eldest in my family and a leader in the air force, as well as at Rolls Royce.

“I really enjoy talking to people at Treetops, they’re a great bunch of kind people. You’re encouraged to express yourself and your feelings, you get put at ease.

“They also deliver Cake and Care packages, which I enjoy receiving. It shows that somebody is thinking about you and that they’re trying to support us at this difficult time.”

A steep learning curve for our patients

Ali Jordan, Wellbeing senior staff nurse at Treetops Hospice Care, said: “It has been a steep learning curve for our patients and technology is something which, these days, we all take for granted.

“But the outcome has been a positive one and we’re delighted that some of our patients are now able to access our online services. This scheme has enabled them to have face-to-face contact with someone here at Treetops who they recognise and continue to take part in chair-based exercises to keep them moving.

“There are plans already in place to host more workshops and classes to enhance our current Wellbeing programmes.”

Treetops provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions.

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need. The hospice welcomes donations to their Treetops COVID-19 Appeal to ensure the future of the hospice and its services.