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Taking our wellbeing classes online

Martlets’ outpatient Jackie Smith overcame her initial frustrations with video conferencing software and is now enjoying our wellbeing classes via Zoom. The free online sessions – including meditation, yoga and tai chi – are helping our outpatients with symptom management during lockdown.

I first came into Martlets about two years’ ago for a couple of weeks’ of respite care in the inpatient unit. I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and got a lot of benefit from the rehab team and did some seated yoga. Since then I’ve also had acupuncture at Martlets, as I have arthritis in my shoulder and a damaged bicep tendon. The symptoms were causing me problems and the treatment helped a lot.

I was keen to continue the seated yoga classes as they really helped my wellbeing. In November 2018 I was contacted and told that Martlets were going to start a seated yoga class for outpatients. I was so happy and said ‘put me down on the list!’. It’s been brilliant and as well as the yoga I’ve done tai chi and meditation sessions at Martlets. But then of course coronavirus happened and we all went into lockdown. As I have MS I’m in the vulnerable group and have to stay at home and shield.

Yoga via video link

I was missing the classes so much, so I was thrilled when I got a call from Ann who organises the sessions. She said they were going to try the yoga using Zoom video software and did I want to try. I said ‘absolutely I do’ as I was missing the classes so much. To begin with I couldn’t get the Zoom links to work and it was frustrating. But I was determined I wasn’t going to give up on it. The yoga teacher said she’d do a private session with me to help get me using Zoom. I also got some help and support from Martlets on using it. Eventually I clicked on a link for a meditation class and it worked!

Now it’s easy to use Zoom and I do tai chi, yoga, meditation and breathing relaxation classes via this way. I’ve never fallen asleep during a relaxation class, but recently with the breathing meditation I was so relaxed I dozed off! It was fabulous. I’m looking forward to trying the sound bath next month and I’ve done the drumming session which was lovely. Ann phoned me afterwards to say how pleased they were that I’d managed to get on to the session. They were happy I could use Zoom successfully now after trying for a while. It was really nice of her to phone and say that, I really appreciated it.

Bringing communities together

Using video software has been a good skill to learn. I’m a treasurer for a charity and we did a Zoom meeting last week. It felt a bit strange and took a bit of getting used to, but it went ok. So if anyone says they’re doing something through Zoom, I can now say ‘great, I know how to do that’. If you’re a bit nervous about trying the video software do give it a try and persevere. It’s a great tool and can really bring communities together during lockdown.

The team at Martlets are so friendly and I still feel like I’m being looked after even though I’m not going into the Hospice. I just want things to start getting back to normal, but this has helped so much. I feel part of a community and the Zoom classes give me something to look forward to.

‘I can just turn up, switch on and get going’

The nice thing is about doing classes online is that it’s so easy. It doesn’t require me getting in and out of the wheelchair, and into the car. Or my husband having to drive me in. That can take some time to organise, plus we live in a high-rise block. Whereas doing classes through Zoom I can just turn, up, switch it on and get going. It’s a brilliant plus point that you’re there straight away without any stress.

It’s fantastic. I really look forward to that 45 minutes of ‘me time’. With so many stresses going on, it makes such a difference to have that time for my wellbeing. I go on feeling relaxed and rested even after the class has finished. It’s also great having a bit of social contact before and after the sessions. It’s lovely to be able to chat with people I haven’t seen in a while.

I’d carry on doing the meditation via Zoom even if the lockdown lifted. The yoga though I do enjoy going in for and doing it with the class all together. I like being around people, I miss that. When the lockdown eases, I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and getting my nails and hair done. You don’t realise how important these small things are to your wellbeing until you can’t do them. That’s why I’m so grateful Martlets have managed to keep these classes going via Zoom.

Someone from the phone hub at Martlets also calls me every week to check I’m ok. They ask if I need any extra support or sometimes it’s just nice to have a chat. I have more help from Martlets than I’ve got from anywhere, it just makes such a difference to me.