“Fame, at last - and it’s only taken 93 years”: Sunrise of Cardiff resident praises care staff and reflects on his TV appearance

Bob Skinner is a 93-year-old resident at Sunrise of Cardiff care home. He is a former journalist and writes a daily diary.

On 30th March, Bob wrote a diary entry about the team at Sunrise of Cardiff and he wanted to share it. It read:

30th March 2020

No sad sorrowful statistics today. No comment on the good, the bad and the ugly in his upside-down world of 2020. Just some thoughts on the women and men who are looking after the ‘vulnerable’- the carers.

The applause that echoed through the land was a uniquely expressed tribute to the scores of thousands in our health services. They all deserve every clap in that simple, spontaneous act of recognition and gratitude. The carers deserve the same.

In our own homes and nursing and residential homes they are a lifeline. They offer comfort and reassurance. They love their work and it shows.

I am probably one of the luckiest, most privileged of the vulnerable. At 93, I still have an interesting, comfortable life, thanks to carers. A relief to my family.

Rosemary, my wife and I had lived happily for more than twenty years in our seaside flat in Penarth and were carrying on, sustained by the help of our carers. It was just an hour, three times a day, but it made all the difference. We could stay in our home, safe and comfortable.

That changed after two years, with the death of Rosemary and our daughter Beverley. Rosemary, who had been losing her sight for some years, fell in our bathroom, dying in hospital 10 days later. Beverley, in her mid-sixties, who had bravely struggled to recover after being in hospital, paralysed for months, died of a heart attack in her home. After sixty-six years marriage, I was alone, facing a new uncertain life.

Instead, I am one of the luckiest, most privileged of the vulnerable, living in a new home, Sunrise of Cardiff. I have new carers who have transformed my life and health. They too have families and the worries of the lockdown. Yet to all of us, from the oldest at 103, to the youngest in their 80s, they have to show their dedications 24 hours a day, smiling and efficient.

They give us our medication, chat to us, keep us safe and entertain us. They are friends in need. Friends, indeed.

 

Following his diary entry, Bob was asked to appear on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on the morning of Friday 3rd April. He spoke about the wonderful team at Sunrise of Cardiff, the importance of care workers and the great credit they deserve.

Bob then reflected on his TV experience in his diary entry on 3rd April, he wrote:

3rd April 2020

No trouble finding something to write about today. I made the news myself.

I was having an after-dinner cup of tea in our bistro when Virgil, the deputy general manager, came over with a message from Sunrise headquarters saying they had seen my diary piece and asking if I would go on ITV to talk about our carers.

Agreed. Back to work after 60 years-the last time I was in a TV studio- it was HTV in those days. In my late years as a journalist, I did most of my broadcasting for BBC Wales whose studios were in Place, Cardiff.

So it was a new challenge. Was I too old, too rusty? I would see later in the evening came instructions on how the makeshift operation had to be done in lockdown. My living room became a studio. What a difference. No camera or sound equipment, just a Sunrise laptop on my coffee table. Three of the ‘girls’ were the technical team marking the positions for my armchair, laptop and coffee table. No doubt worried that if I moved viewers would just get my wispy-haired head.

I was awoken at 6:45 after a remarkably good night’s sleep ready for action. It was a live broadcast for the Good Morning Britain programme. Contact with the studio was due fifteen minutes before going on air at 8am but there was trouble with the link. The Sunrise tech team kept calm. My worry was whether I would hear the questions clearly with my hearing aid but at 8:03 came the O.K. I could now see the presenters in the studio and vaguely see myself in my armchair and hear more clearly.

Also taking part was a Labour MP and the head of a nursing care homes association. We were to be interviewed separately. I had learned many years ago that you need to give some thought in advance to what you wanted to say so I had jotted down some notes which in the morning I reduced to a few key words.

The other valuable advice was, keep still, no hand waving and most important, listen to the questions. ‘Are you ready Bob?’ ‘Yes, fine’. I was ‘on air’. It was all over in minutes. I remembered most of my key words, did not move and think made the tribute to the carers they deserve. A lot of phone calls and emails today.

Fame, at last- and it’s only taken 93 years.

 

Click here for more information on Sunrise of Cardiff. Considering a career in care? Click here to see all of our latest job vacancies.

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