Blindness and visual impairment does not stop Delta CONNECT clients from playing bowls in Carmarthenshire

Most Wednesday mornings you will find Carmarthenshire CONNECT client Rhianedd Jones enjoying a friendly game of bowls.

She attends the Gwendraeth and Amman Bowling Society’s Visually Impaired Bowling Club at the Dinefwr Indoor Bowling Centre in Ammanford.

Set up in 2015, it is a social bowling group for anyone with any visual impairment and of all ages and abilities.

Rhianedd, aged 79, said: “I love going to GABS as I can meet a lot of different people that have eyesight problems and give tips to each other.

“It’s a way of having respite from my husband and the things that happen in the club I can tell John about, and it lightens his day.”

Chairman Brian Hobart said he came up with the idea for the club as there were no other activities for people living with visual impairment in the area. He approached Dinefwr Indoor Bowling Centre and proposed setting up a group for the visually impaired.

He said: “The centre had never done anything like this before, so we came to an arrangement and had an open day in August 2015, and we had enough interest to open a small club in September 2015.”

He said the club has grown into its own little community and has gone from strength to strength, now having three rinks and six coaches.

Mr Hobart said: “We’re all visually impaired, none of us had played bowls before, we’re all at different standards and we’ve now got two medal winners for Wales.”

Another member of the club, Christine Llewelyn, signed up for Delta CONNECT for her husband Kenneth.

She said: “I enjoy coming to the club and spending time with everyone. It is nice getting out of the house for a bit and catching up with friends.”

Delta CONNECT is an enhanced lifeline and telecare service which is available across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion and includes Technology Enabled Care packages, proactive wellbeing calls, access to a 24/7 community response team, and other wellbeing support and activities to help people to leave as independently as possible.

Mrs Llewelyn said she had used the response service on a number of occasions as her husband was falling at home.

“I remember one time, Kenneth had a fall in the garden and the response team was present at the scene within half an hour of pressing the lifeline,” she said.

“When Kenneth fell, there was no way I was able to get pick him up without help. I am thankful for the response team”.

The response team supports non-medical emergencies such as non-injurious falls and other welfare needs and provides customers and their families with reassurance knowing help is always available if they need it.

Mrs Jones signed up for the service in 2021 for her husband John and finds the wellbeing calls particularly helpful.

Delta Wellbeing’s pro-active team carry out regular calls to support wellbeing and welfare needs, these can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on a client’s specific needs. Last month the team carried out a total of 2,988 proactive calls across the three counties. They also encourage clients to take part in activities that are important to their wellbeing, for example, identifying and providing support to attend community groups of interest.

Mrs Jones said: “Tracy (from the proactive team) and I have become quite friendly during our talks. I look forward to them, it’s not just care, it’s friendship.”

Delta CONNECT, which is currently free for the first three months, is funded by Welsh Government’s Health and Social Care Regional Integration Fund (RIF), through the West Wales Care Partnership Board. For more information visit www.deltawellbeing.org.uk or call one of Delta Wellbeing’s friendly advisors on 0300 333 2222.

Delta Wellbeing is a Local Authority Trading Company owned by Carmarthenshire County Council and provides assistive technology and proactive monitoring to support older and vulnerable people to live independently at home for longer.

Gwendraeth and Amman Bowling Society’s Visually Impaired Bowling Club meets every Wednesday at Dinefwr Indoor Bowling Centre in Ammanford at 10am, for more information contact the club on 01269 597969.