The most vulnerable in what are certainly uncertain times

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The entire world is in quarantine measures of various stages. It’s as surreal a thought as they come. Some countries are beginning to lift those restrictions – slowly, carefully, uncertain of what will happen as a result. Ireland is at the stage of deciding what to lift, what to re-open, and when.

There are only a few certainties in this very uncertain time: 

  • If restrictions are lifted too soon, we could see another surge of infections which would result in a reintroduction of quarantine measures.
  • Until a vaccine or treatment is developed for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID19), the most at-risk groups will have to continue to quarantine, or as it’s coined here in Ireland, cocoon.

One thing not being openly discussed by Irish officialdom is that the older members of our society are NOT the only high risk group who will also need to continue cocooning. 

There are questions which now need answered:

  1. What of children and adults like my son Brendan Bjorn? Profoundly disabled, incapacitated, medically complex and fragile loved ones who depend upon full time nursing-level care to survive are at great risk from this devastating virus.
  2. How will they be best protected once quarantine is lifted?
  3. How can they be protected in their own home when other family members are no longer in quarantine?
  4. Is it even possible to have one family member back out in society, even in the germ-zone we all know schools to be, coming home daily into the same environment as the family member who is cocooning?
  5. And what of the family carer in this scenario: What are carers to do as they go between family members – cocooning and not – to protect the most vulnerable? What are they to do to protect their own health in this scenariofor if they go down, the entire ship will surely sink. 

The past few weeks have been dark times for many of us. Some of us can thankfully see the light at the end of the tunnel as the talk of lifting restrictions begins.

But for those of us living in the world who are at high risk, nothing will have changed with the lifting of restrictions for society. If fact, we may feel more isolated and forgotten as the world carries on without us while we hide away in our homes, afraid, worried, trying to avoid an invisible foe which could easily take what is most precious to us. Please don’t forget us.

Yes, the above questions must be answered, fully, in detail, and without political spin or condescending vagueness. And once answered, help needs to be given for all members of society.

The most vulnerable must not once again be left on the sacrificial altar. 

 

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The disabled, their family carers and COVID19 in Ireland

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I mowed around the bright yellow flowers in my back garden yesterday. I’ll be helping the bees, was my first thought. My second thought was my father’s voice transporting me back to my 5 year old self. “Why are you pulling the flowers, Dad? They’re so pretty!” The annoyed voice replied telling me how they were weeds that didn’t belong in the lawn. More were ripped out as his sweat dripped down upon them.

I continued to mow around the bright yellow flowers in my back garden. Who’s to say they’re weeds, I then thought. Are they still not a lovely flower that brings beauty to a world which so often has too little?

I looked in the window to check on my precious son laying in his bed. His smile beamed up at me as I waved at him. A beautiful, bright flower in a world which would often consider him of lesser importance than the familiar green lawns finely manicured to perfection.

And then I wondered: Would my own dad consider this grandson, whom he never got to meet, as a weed to be discarded as other family members have suggested, or would he see him as I do, as a happy blossom of love and light?

I went back to finish mowing the back garden, more determined than ever to fight for the dandelions of this world. 

In this surreal and challenging time as the world tries to make its way though a pandemic, historically marginalised communities such as the disabled in our society are continuing to be ignored. What’s so pressing about it now is that it’s an urgent matter of life or death as the needs of the disabled community in residential care homes are being overlooked.

In Ireland, dozens of people in disability care homes are now infected with COVID19. As of last night’s (14 April 2020) Department of Health briefing, no figures were available on if any of those precious souls have died.

There should be data.
If there isn’t, why isn’t there?
If there is, why isn’t it being released?

There should have been a care plan in place weeks ago for any of our disabled members of society and for their family carers should they contract COVID19. There wasn’t. 

My son lives at home with me, but so many other people’s disabled sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, don’t. These residential care homes are just that – homes. We should all be completely safe in our own homes. Disabled people – more vulnerable to the adverse affects of COVID19 than the majority of the population – in these settings aren’t as safe as my son is in our own private home…

…and that is a fact I can’t ignore. I hope you, kind reader, won’t ignore it either.

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