The fourth of our guest blog posts during Covid-19 comes from Hannah Deakin, a disability blogger and activist. Hannah writes:
Coronavirus or Covid-19. A word that until a couple of months ago nobody had heard of, except maybe as Corona – a beer! Now we are in a pandemic; the world is set to be turned upside down. Many countries have closed their borders, schools and universities and are in lock down, or just beginning to relax restrictions.
Here in the UK we are becoming accustomed to lock down. But how are disabled people and the elderly managing? Thousands of disabled people depend on care each day to survive. What is happening to them? Some cannot access food or drink, move position or go to the toilet without help. Without help the stark reality is that they could just be left to starve to death, in agony with pressure sores and in their own urine and faeces. It might sound harsh but I am sure it feels a lot harsher. It would be inhumane. Disabled people deserve better.
What happens if you employ personal Assistants (PAs /carers)? I have been told they can still work as they are key workers and they can still work if the user (myself) has the Coronavirus, providing the employer (me in this case) provides appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). However, where am I supposed to access this? The NHS can’t get enough PPE…So how am I? Furthermore, what happens if PAs are off sick themselves?
I am lucky, I live with my parents who support me so much, even in normal circumstances. The support they have provided me during this pandemic is so much more. I have had less PA support so I have been relying heavily on my parents, which is hard. Normally, with a job you have a break in the evening and at weekends. Caring is not like that. At the moment it is more like a 24/7 job for my parents. They are the back up. However, what about others who don’t have that? Or if they become sick?
I think the social services and continuing health care should be phoning the vulnerable people on their records to check if they are okay.
The anxiety of the ifs and hows are much higher within the disabled community as often they depend so much on others. On top of this many are at an increased risk of getting the virus itself as they have underlying health problems.
The effects of the virus have already hit the disabled community hard with higher prices and lack of availability on products they use daily. One example of these being alcohol wipes for cleaning equipment and infection prevention.
My Dad has been getting our shopping and my medications, so I am okay, but many of my disabled/chronically ill friends are struggling to get food. A few are having to go on the internet at midnight on certain days to access new slots and be in with a chance of getting one.
I know so many people who I feel meet the high risk category but have not got a letter- it seems to vary by the area you live in to whether you receive a letter. Surely, there should be more continuity? Also what about other disabled people who are higher risk, but not ‘high risk’ or disabled/chronically ill individuals who can’t get out and normally rely on food deliveries? The over 70s are also encouraged to self isolate for 12 weeks but are not given any priority in shopping slots. This may result in them having to go out.
Disabled people are also missing out on important hospital appointments. I am waiting to hear what will happen to my appointment later in this month, but an appointment I had for October has already been cancelled due to the Coronavirus crisis. I am also, like many, missing out on regular physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions. This is likely to have a detrimental effect on chronically ill/ disabled people’s health and mobility.
On a positive note, I have with my Mum and Dad been able to watch and access more regular church services online via video. Although, it is not quite the same as being in a church, together with the congregation, it does open it up to others with disabilities/chronic health problems to access the services.
Furthermore, The coronavirus bill involves the suspension of section 18 & 20 of the care act 2014. This could be life endangering as disabled people and carers may not get the help they need. This is extremely frightening. The local authority would only be required to provide care and support to prevent a breach of the person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Although, I appreciate we are in an unprecedented situation of national emergency, but I hope it is not going to be at the expense of disabled people. It has been said that this will be a temporary suspension, however it concerns me further whether it will become permanent.
To read more from Hannah visit her blog – Hannah’s hope