‘I had a heart attack and Covid and didn’t see my niece for a year – it’s been so har…


One of the most heartbreaking things about the pandemic has been the sight of elderly people separated from their loved ones and isolated in care homes.

Former nurse Joan Bostock has had a tough year. The 93-year-old, from Cheltenham, Glos, suffered a fall, a heart attack and suspected Covid last April and has missed her visits from niece, Jessica Whitman.

But finally the pair have been able to meet and hold hands again, much to Joan’s delight…

In all my time, I have never seen anything like the coronavirus pandemic. It has been a whole year since I had my fall – and what a turbulent 12 months it has been.

I wasn’t too worried about Covid at the time, I didn’t really understand what it was all about. I just knew I couldn’t see my family for a while but I was mostly in my room recovering from my fall.

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Joan had a pair of cakes to celebrate turning 93
Joan had a pair of cakes to celebrate turning 93

The lockdown has been strange. I kept busy by watching TV. I’m Welsh and I really like rugby so I missed watching it on TV every Saturday with my niece, Jessica.

But I’ve enjoyed Rick Stein’s cooking show in Cornwall. It reminds me of my nursing days in Truro. And I like The Repair Shop.

Some days we would go into the lounge to do activities with the other residents. I love the quizzes.

One thing I really missed was having my hair done, we usually have a hairdresser once a week.

Niece Jessica used to be a regular visitor
Niece Jessica used to be a regular visitor

The staff at the home did pamper sessions for us. My hair is so long now, I tie it in a ponytail.

Jessica brought me a cordless phone but I don’t know how to use it, so it’s still in its box.

In July Jessica was able to see me through a screen. It was so strange.

I missed her and my friend Jill and her daughter Bethany. I know Jill from when I used to go into the launderette in Bishop’s Cleeve where I lived with my husband.

Lockdown Diaries. Joan Bostock celebrates her 93rd birthday with her niece Jess Whitman at the Oakhaven residential care home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
The pair could speak through glass at the Oakhaven residential care home in Cheltenham

Jill has kept in touch with me ever since and now takes my laundry home and does some shopping for me every week, when she comes to visit. Bethany has adopted me as her grandma.

Not being able to be with them has been hard. In the last year, I’ve used Skype to talk to my family here and in Russia, where some of my relatives live. I had never really used technology much, but the staff really helped me.

The garden visits were quite difficult with the masks, distance and road noise. There was one time when the weather was vile.

In the past, the staff would bring in their babies for me to see, but in lockdown they brought photos instead. I was sad not to see them.

Jean with her late husband
Jean with her late husband

Christmas was nice because Jill came on Christmas Eve and Jessica came on Boxing Day and the staff made it really special for us. Many of the residents could see their visitors on Christmas Day as well.

On Christmas Eve we sang carols, then all the residents gathered to open our presents from staff, then on Christmas Day we opened presents from our families.

In January I also had my first vaccination, it felt a bit of a relief.

I celebrated my 93rd birthday on February 1. I had two cakes and a visit from Jessica. My old neighbour phoned me too.

During lockdown I really missed seeing the outside world, but luckily I have a good view from my bedroom looking into the garden.

When this is all over I would like to be taken out in the car again to Pittville Pump Room. Jessica used to take me there to watch all the lovely weddings it hosts.

Recently I have been joining in on poetry and arts and craft activities. The St David’s Day celebrations were really nice and I enjoyed eating Welsh cakes.

Myself and Jessica are so grateful to the staff at Oakhaven for keeping us all safe and happy.

I felt very happy seeing Jessica and being able to hold her hand after a year last week.

I am now looking forward to normal times ahead and to eventually being able to go out and about again.

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