Isolating on the ward: Bethany’s story

4th January 2022

When I first found out I was a close contact of someone with Covid-19, I knew straight away that isolating would be a struggle. Routine is very important to me. If my routine is broken or interrupted, I find it extremely difficult and it can trigger my anxiety. Part of my routine is to go swimming and play basketball and badminton weekly as part of my physio. Isolating meant I could not do these physical activities that I really enjoy.

We all know our physical health is linked to our mental health and it is important to look after both for our wellbeing. Isolating made this difficult. I share my living space with another patient. To protect them, I could only go between my bedroom and another small room. It felt like I was trapped and I really missed the company of other people – especially good craic with other patients and staff. After a few days, I got the result of my PCR. It was negative! I still had to isolate, but things got a lot better.

I started to have ward-based day care. Day care staff came to the ward in full PPE to do some work with me. I really enjoy art – here is some of the artwork I created for the ward windows during my isolation.

I also enjoy being part of ‘Telling It Like It Is’ (TILII). TILII are groups of advocates with a learning disability, both in Muckamore and in the community. We work together to get our voices heard and make a difference. Louise could not come onto the ward so she did Zoom sessions with me instead. This was important to me. One of the things TILII do is translate information into easy read format. While I was isolating, I started to work on a Strategic Plan and Consultation document for the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland.

Once we finish this easy read, I will work with Louise and the other TILII members to respond to the consultation. We are experts by experience and our views are important to shape services. At TILII, we also know how to have fun. While I was isolating, I started working with Louise on our Christmas Special for TILII TV. I kept making Louise laugh with my special effects and backgrounds. I am a big fan of Justin Bieber so I am planning to do one of his songs for the show. You can see it on TILII TV: https://arcuk.org.uk/northernireland/telling-it-like-it-is/tilii-tv/

The ward staff knew I needed to get out. My results were negative so they were able to take me out for walks around the grounds. I still stayed away from any other patients to make sure they were protected. I love getting food from the Cosy Corner Café on the hospital grounds. My staff even worked out a way for me to do that!

I would ring with my order and then the Cosy Café staff would leave my food in the outside eating area. My staff would take me across and I would wait while they went to collect my food for me.
A big thing I missed was seeing my family. I talked to them on my phone or iPad, which was good but not the same. When Freedom Day came, the end of my isolation period, I celebrated by going out for coffee. It is not easy isolating, but all the staff helped me get through it. Now I am back into my routine and looking forward to Christmas.