Fulfilled living in later life
The emotional shackles of lock-down

Monday 1st March 2021

The emotional shackles of lock-down

Louise Morse

We may be out of lock-down soon, but it’s not the end of the Covid impact, according to Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of psychiatrists. “It poses the greatest threat to mental health since the Second World War and will reverberate years after the crisis has passed,” he says. “It’s very easy to think that when it’s safe to do so, everyone will all be out and about again straight away, but I think it’s going to take a while to get people used to that. The people most likely to suffer are older adults who’ve accustomed to self-isolating.” Surveys and anecdotal evidence reveal that large numbers of older people are reluctant to leave home and engage with people again, which will probably mean not going back to their churches. But we have a tried and tested program that will encourage them to return and be restored. We are talking to the experts in a Zoom Meeting on Tuesday 9th March at 2:30 pm.

The situation today is similar to one several years ago when a group of people living in our retirement housing complex in Yorkshire began voluntarily self-isolating. They were losing self-confidence because of failing memories, difficulties with language and finding their way around the large complex.

So, we (Janet Jacob, former psychiatric nurse and home manager, and myself, Louise Morse, cognitive behavioural therapist) developed a programme that would give them back their confidence and strengthen them mentally and spiritually. We called it ‘Brain and Soul Boosting for Seniors’. It was held twice a month for over two years and the results were more than we’d hoped for. We recorded evaluations for each individual and saw mental processes improve, confidence returning, faith reinforced, depression lifting and friendships groups formed. Participants looked forward to the sessions, and one, Douglas, was typical of many when he said, ‘I didn’t know I could do that!’

Encouraged by the results, we made the ‘Brain & Soul Boosting for Seniors’ (BSBS) workbook publicly available. Since then BSBS sessions have been held in many different contexts – in faith groups, churches, sheltered housing, family groups at home, and hospitals. A hospital chaplain told us that, noticing the difference in patients, the psychiatrist came into the Day Room to see what was going on.

The attraction for all older people, with or without dementia, is that BSBS does what it says on the cover – it strengthens brains and souls. It rebuilds confidence, lifts depression, and restores a sense of purpose. It’s an antidote to the strain of lock-down.

The sessions are straight forward and group leaders don’t need special skills. The structure is based on the CB (cognitive behavioural) ‘guided discovery’ principle, and themes have a scriptural context.

BSBS experts, Sally Trigg and Jo Dunne have run many BSBS groups at Stapleford Baptist Church, Nottingham, and have demonstrated it to other church leaders.

On Tuesday, 9th March at 2:30 they will be joining Janet Jacob and Louise Morse in a Zoom Meeting to share their experiences and results. Places are limited to encourage questions and discussion, so if you would like a place please email louise.morse@pilgrimsfriend.org.uk.