Sally Tabbner’s Covid-19 Weekly Diary – 8

Dementia Support's Chief Executive Sally Tabbner


DS CEO Reflections during these times;

23-05-2020 – Week 9


Reflecting on the Week………


I didn’t write last week as to be honest things are beginning to somewhat settle and my world and day to day work is returning back largely to as it was – I say that but the strategy and vision are of course less clear in fact impossible to still set out and my risks and issues register certainly looks like a completely different document to that of 10 weeks ago of which almost pales into insignificance by comparison.


My sleep pattern is beginning to normalise a little too – I am still surviving on much less than before but also accept that I might just be growing out of my teenage years of needing so much!  All that said I am tired all the time.


Since last writing we have seen some relaxation to the lockdown which did turn out to be much as I had anticipated, sadly. Nonetheless it did, I feel, serve to impact the general mood of many that I have come into contact with positively. Just the freedom to go out where one wishes is better than nothing however, it does not solve the sadness of not being able to spend time with your family and loved ones. I think it is fair to say that most people are really desperate to reach the point where they can spend time with those that they miss and I am one of those people. It is making me feel a bit miserable if I am honest – living alone is tough and this feels like it’s just gone on too long.  Of course, we all understand we have to abide by the directives but it’s hard and I don’t know about others, but I am fed up and bored of looking at people through screens!


More than ever I am missing seeing our customers coming and going and I know that as the lockdown for those shielding continues on there is more and more anxiety and stress on our carers to find ways in which to distract, occupy and support their loved ones.  We are hearing many stories of people’s dementia declining quickly at the moment and that’s only to be expected I guess as peoples worlds have shrunk so much, meaning it is so difficult to cognitively stimulate and find ways to increase wellbeing.  That all said the team continue to think if new ways to virtually support our customers with various short films being produced about relaxation, breathing and physical exercise.  Dawn Gracie is also streaming from our Facebook Page each Friday and I have to say that we get some amazing feedback from that with local residential and nursing homes tuning in as well as customers who used to attend singing with us each week, the staff team and our great volunteers.


Writing this is odd this week as generally speaking, I feel I have little to say that I have not voiced before and I am not one for repetition.  My previous work has seen me as a qualified Project/Change Manager and the reason for mentioning that is that there are certain things I call on from that training these days that I probably haven’t needed to consciously pull into my practice in the couple of months ‘pre-Covid’.  The good old Kubler-Ross Change Curve model is something I’m currently finding helpful to both assess where I am at and where I think others are too – it’s one thing I need to remind myself about is that we are all in different places throughout this and as we all experience things at different paces.

The point however is that I am at the stage where I’m past “Acceptance” and definitely I am ready to be “Problem Solving” as are a lot of the team – but some are before the dotted line I can tell and that’s a difficult place to be.  Looking back to four weeks ago I am clear I was constantly moving back and forth between the first five stages so I am grateful to have made progress and now I want to be able to support others to make the shift forward too.  I just need the government guidance to enable us to detail out the problem solving aspect and then we can come back from this.  We can set out what it’s going to look like and give everyone something to “hang on to”.

The uncertainty about when we might return to some kind of normality is a real struggle for everyone and we all currently find ourselves in positions which are not as we would wish them to be, from either a homelife or work perspective.  As a team we keep talking to each other and I truly believe that there are good things to come for our charity as a  result of some of the learning that is happening during this time.  I believe that the breadth of our service offer utilising “Virtual” technology will certainly have a place going forwards which, until recently, I had always somewhat dismissed given our customer demographic.  The Virtual Wayfinder week last week really demonstrated that there are some fantastic outcomes to be achieved in bringing people together in this way and it was lovely to see some of the photographs of our customers and carers. 

We are also learning a lot from the befriending scheme and the level of emotional support provision on the telephone too which I think we can learn from and I know that Jacquie had her first family zoom meeting recently talking to a family spread out across the land! 

The new activity packs which arrived with us at two weeks ago are now all allocated and delivered bar 100 – that makes 1300 packs delivered to older vulnerable and isolated people in less than two weeks which is pretty spectacular – lots of people have been involved in delivering them and we are lucky to have the supporters we do.

I have had one committee and board zoom meeting after another in the last few weeks and the trustees really are committed to the work going on and how we are currently supporting our customers and also they are excited and keen for us to ensure our learning during this time is taken forward into our work of the future. 

My next plan is to take a little time out – just a couple of days – to re-energise and prepare for the next steps in this journey – despite feeling somewhat flat at the moment, I am very clear that there are good things to come and I want to be ready for it!


Sally Tabbner

A CEO who is looking forward