As the adage goes – ‘when tough times come, you realise who your true friends are’. Four residents at CHD Living’s Surbiton Care Home learned this first-hand forging a strong, last-lasting friendship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unable to see their own family and friends due to the government-enforced lockdowns, residents Beryl Boseley (81), Gay Vaughan (88), Susan Heath (76) and Audrey Roberts (96) looked internally for support, becoming best friends over the last year.
What started as a simple hello has since become a heart-warming comradeship, proving that timeless friendships can be forged at any age, anytime, anywhere.
Sharing a passion for wildlife and the outdoors, the group can often be found feeding the birds and squirrels in the gardens of the home. Utilising the outdoor space, the women also like sitting in the garden to chat, drink tea and enjoy each other’s company.
There for each other during the difficult times as well as the good, the ladies have helped each other through isolation, and also recently supported Gay with the grief of losing her husband of 68 years, Michael. Understanding the magnitude of the loss, the other ladies have been there for Gay every step of the way, offering a hot drink, a kind word and a shoulder to cry on.
Discussing the group’s newly-established bond, Heidi Bradbury, an activity coordinator at Surbiton Care Home, said: “It’s been inspiring to watch the beautiful friendship between four of our lovely residents develop. Lockdown could potentially have been a lonely experience but, together, they have demonstrated that kindness, compassion and support are glowing beacons of hope during dark times. It is wonderful to see something so positive come out of the pandemic.”
With many studies highlighting the positive benefits of friendship on social, emotional and physical well-being, the benefits of having a strong circle of friends for the elderly are undeniable. But what does friendship mean to Audrey, Gay, Susan and Beryl?
When asked this very question, Audrey responded, “The most important aspect of friendship is being able to talk to someone. Just knowing that someone is there and is prepared to listen makes the world of difference.”
Gay echoed similar sentiments, saying, “Friendship gives you comfort. You can share confidences and have companionship. The other women’s friendships meant so much to me when my husband passed away a few weeks ago. I don’t think I could have done it without them.”
Discussing what makes a good friend, Susan answered, “A good friend is someone who puts you first, even above themselves. They are selfless and want only the best for you – which is how I feel about these ladies.”
Nodding her agreement, Beryl added, “I think a good friend is someone who you can sit in comfortable silence with, without having to say a single thing. I consider all three of these ladies some of my dearest friends and believe their friendship to be the very best outcome of the pandemic.”