National Day of Reflection

Blog: “Please can you stay on the phone and talk to me”

On the third National Day of Reflection (23 March) Julie Angelsea from Liverpool City Council’s Covid-19 team shares two very different experiences that will stay with her forever.

*Please note that this blog contains details which some people may find upsetting.

“The first story is one that I will never forget – and one I could never have been prepared for (and most definitely wasn’t trained for) but sharing it brings back the reality of what people have experienced in the last few years.

I was working on the test and trace project and had called a woman on a mobile number.

She was in her early 40s and had tested positive for Covid, so I introduced myself to her and explained the reason for my call.

After confirming her details and that she felt well enough to go through the questions, she told me she was currently in hospital (in intensive care) and had been given the last rites.

I immediately apologised to her for my intrusion, and I said I would not continue with the call.

She replied, “Please can you stay on the phone and talk to me, I don’t have any visitors and I am going to die alone and without my family.”

She went on to tell me that her children had been allowed a visit, but she had passed Covid onto them, so was never going to see them again.

She had slipped away by the time they were out of their 10-day isolation period.

I stayed on the phone for about 45 minutes (I probably wasn’t supposed to) but I did what I thought was my duty as one woman to another in a crisis.

She told me all about her life and her family – she laughed and cried – and I listened.

I knew there was nothing I could possibly say or do to make her feel any better, but I was probably going to be the last non-medical person she was ever going to talk to.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my 38-year career with LCC, but I felt that I made a small difference to that lady at the end of her life.

The second was a lovely but unusual experience when I called a jolly, elderly gentleman who had tested positive for Covid.

As usual I introduced myself “Hello my name is Julie Anglesea”…followed by the usual spiel.

The man replied, “That’s strange, my late wife was called Julie and we used to visit Anglesey all the time.”

He went on to say that it would be funny if I lived on Anglesey (I get that all the time – and I actually  do!)

He talked about the island and told me of a little church in a place called Beaumaris where he and his late wife Julie used to visit.

He then asked if I could visit the church and remember him and their special place next time I was over that side of the island.

I told him that I could go one better, and that I’d just got married in that very church back in August.

When I told him the date, he went silent for a moment.

I asked was he ok, and he replied with “Well if that isn’t a sign from my lovely wife, I don’t know what is”

My wedding day was the actual date his wife Julie had passed away, so he felt like she had sent him a message from above.

When we finally completed the call, he told me I’d lifted his spirits and wished me all the luck in the world for my future.

I feel incredibly proud of what the team has achieved over the past three years, and the part we played in responding to the pandemic.

These experiences are something that will stay with me forever.”

Liverpool Waterfront