Visually impaired Macathur man helps elderly residents cope with Covid-19 isolation

Bradbury's Joshua Grashorn is using his newfound skills to help the elderly navigate the difficulties of Covid-19 isolation. Picture: Sally Tsoutas
Bradbury's Joshua Grashorn is using his newfound skills to help the elderly navigate the difficulties of Covid-19 isolation. Picture: Sally Tsoutas

When Joshua Grashorn started experiencing vision problems he never imagined that he would one day be going blind.

The Bradbury man was a qualified carpenter with his own business but that all changed within the blink of an eye.

"My career came to an abrupt end in my twenties, when I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa - a disorder that causes gradual loss of vision," the 32-year-old said.

"I had been having issues with my eyes for a while, and had seen a few optometrists, but they couldn't get to the bottom of it.

"But then, one day I was out at a job in Ambarvale - it was raining, so I was spending the day in the garage making all of my cuts - and suddenly I could no longer see the pencil marks on the wood."

Mr Grashorn said he was forced to consider his options and reshape his career path.

"I figured if I couldn't do carpentry I'd have to get educated so I started studying a Bachelor of Health Science double degree, majoring in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Services Management, at Western Sydney University," he said.

"I also completed a personal training course at Macquarie Fields TAFE.

"It's funny because I was never really good at school as a kid but I am really enjoying doing uni - the staff have been very supportive."

As a part of his degree Mr Grashorn undertook a work placement with Uniting NSW ACT.

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 university students like Mr Grashorn would visit clients in their home to prepare care programs.

However students must now provide remote support via Zoom meetings - which comes with a number of challenges.

"Doing the placement virtually was definitely a challenge - some of the clients weren't initially adept with the technology, and I of course have my own challenges and need the technology to be accessible," Mr Grashorn said.

"But we got there, and the work placement was really successful.

"Many people are feeling lonely and isolated - but I was able to help by spending time with them, getting to know their interests and developing activities that would allow them to have fun and enjoy themselves during this difficult time.

"Having social connections and a sense of purpose is really important for anyone's well being.

"I am proud to have had the opportunity to help people re-engage with society, and get them through this difficult time."

Mr Grashorn said he valued the work he did with some of Uniting's clients.

"One of my clients was a woman in her nineties - she was feeling very separated from her family, and missing contact with people, so we worked together on a legacy journal," he said.

"She went through her old photos and remnants of her life, and recorded what was important, with the goal of the journal one day being a record for future generations.

"It became a great bonding experience for the woman and her family."

This story Visually impaired Macathur man helps elderly residents cope with Covid-19 isolation first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.