Disabled Persons Guide During the Pandemic | #COVIDCarePlan AD

Lady in a manual wheelchair crying into her hands being consolled by her husband.
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by Revitalise for their #CarePlanCampaign – providing a safety net for disabled people reliant on carers/Personal Assistants where they need a backup plan of support during the Coronavirus outbreak.

While the UK has yet to see the peak of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the country’s people remain in a state of limbo as we try to create a new normality in lockdown Britain. Those who can work from home are doing so, many of which have had no choice but to learn to juggle a remote career from their laptop and becoming teachers overnight to their young broods as school closures mean parents are home-schooling for the first and foreseeable. Suddenly Asda shelf stackers are amongst our hero key workers, once a tedious job that nobody wanted to admit they do, now wearing an invisible medal of honour delivering food to the nations most vulnerable to the virus. Retired NHS staff have been recalled to the medical profession to enable our healthcare system to cope with the thousands of individuals being whisked to A&E daily who will require critical care to save their lives. Even our Prime Minister wasn’t immune from this deadly virus.

But what about people with disabilities?

Unless you have a health condition listed on the government website that’ll deem you as ‘extremely vulnerable’ to COV-19 such as Cancer, COPD or other serious respiratory conditions, are immunocompromised or on drugs that make you so, are a transplant patient to name a few, having a disability alone won’t entitle you entry into the ‘shielded’ minority group that’ll trigger government assistance such as text message health guidance (virus related), priority online grocery delivery slots, weekly food parcels etc. Leaving the majority of the disabled community fending for themselves during these difficult times…

Listen to disability heroes and campaigners discuss the impact on disabled people in the UK and US by the pandemic for better clarity.

What Concerns Do Disabled People Have During COV-19 and What Can Be Done?

Care Packages

Many of us reliant on the daily support of carers/Personal Assistants (PA) outside our household are experiencing staffing difficulties, whether it be extreme shortages with agency care or directly employed PA’s, we’re all being affected as carers/PAs themselves are having to self-isolate either because they have a vulnerable person in their household, they or somebody in their home has symptoms or fear of contracting it by continuing their work, especially if they use public transport. Additionally disabled individuals recently hospitalised for whatever reason are facing huge barriers to come home because they need care in place and with little option via social care for emergency care packages they’re trapped in hospital, taking up a bed unnecessarily and being further exposed to the virus.

Thankfully Revitalise have stepped up to act as a safety net for disabled people may be experiencing a breakdown in their care package and need immediate support in light of current events!

Revitalise is an organisation that offers fully accessible and catered holidays for disabled people in 3 locations throughout the UK.

Jubilee Lodge near London

Netley Waterside House near Southampton and,

Sandpipers in Southport

The charitable trust of 55 years wants to play a role in supporting disabled people who do not present with COV-19 symptoms by offering it’s Sandpapers location to the NHS to help discharge disabled patients and for those experiencing care package breakdowns at home for short or long stays with FULL care support! How absolutely amazing is that?! Disabled persons in need will be able to safely self-isolate in their Southport based, fully accessible lodge with the amount of care support they need completely organised by Revitalise at a significantly DISCOUNTED rate (financial support amount dependant on circumstance) thanks to emergency grant funders.

To find out more about Revitalise and how they can help you or your loved one during this time, call 0303 303 0145, send an email to bookings@revitalise.co.uk

Delivery Slots

We all witnessed the chaos that circulated once our government advised the nation to rely on having groceries delivered where possible while self-isolating. Delivery slots with every major supermarket became scarce and those with disabilities, the medically vulnerable and our elders were initially left unable to book any food deliveries at all or had to do so several weeks in advance.

Thankfully, things have calmed down some since then and protocols to assist the most in need are in place such as;

  • Those on the ‘extremely vulnerable’ list / ‘shielding’ group are being given priority passes by most supermarkets that’ll open up more delivery slots. You can still register via the gov website for support, even if you don’t fit the ‘extremely vulnerable’ shortlist as long as you/your loved one has a disability/medical condition that means they need support and have nobody else assist with getting food and medications.
  • Many supermarkets have dedicated an hour on set days, mostly around 8am, to key workers (including carers/PAs), the elderly and vulnerable to do their food shop with minimal contact with others. You can find a list of all supermarkets key workers/vulnerable persons hours here.

Accessing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

PPE is something we’re hearing to no end about on the news at the moment and for good reason too! The sheer lack of these essential bits of kit isn’t just an ongoing issue with Drs and nurses on the frontline but in care homes and in the community, the very homes of disabled people who rely on PAs/carers coming and going to have even our most basic human needs met like toileting, washing, dressing, even eating and breathing.

I receive a budget from my local authority where I hire and manage my own in-home care team to keep me as in control and independent as possible with what I want to achieve in life. Thanks to the UK govenment scheme Direct Payments, many profoundly disabled people who need daily support can get it in a very empowering way. The only drawback is that you have to learn to become an employer because that is what you become. The safety, training and care of YOUR carers is in your hands which is quite daunting initially, but especially so when you’re in a pandemic and nobody knows what they’re doing. PPE was a BIG concern for people who manage their own care as we usually self-fund things like gloves but in a nation where PPE was scarce and needed kept aside for those on the frontline, we were being told we needed to keep our staff safe but no means of how!

Thankfully, there’s been recent develops with this and we’ve been given official guidance that I’m pleased to share.

  • Coronavirus: guidance for people receiving Direct Payments – On 22nd April our government released official guidelines on what people who manage and direct their own care via Direct Payments and Personal Health Budgets should be abiding by to keep themselves and their Personal Assistants (PAs) safe with COV-19. This official guidance covers everything from PPE to contingency planning and everything in between.
  • Take advance of the incredible support of other self directed care users on private Facebook groups like – Direct Payments and Personal Health Budget (CHC) users

Accessible Exercise in Lockdown

Given the fact many businesses and services have been to close their doors until all this is over for the safety of the public. Disabled people who go to regular physiotherapy or reablement/rehabilitation therapy had no choice but to stop attending. For those especially high risk to the virus they stopped attending regular vital therapies weeks before lockdown as the NHS and govenment attempted to shield the most vulnerable to prevent strain on our already strained healthcare service. While many would of been given lists of exercises to do at home for the time being, there are also many who relied on specific equipment at the centres they attended or absolutely needed the support of the therapists to continue to progress in the right direction.

Some even fit and able individuals can’t keep up with Joe Wick’s 9am P.E classes online, so you can imagine how disabled people feel in this situation. However, there have been a few YouTube channels popping up to tackle exercising from a wheelchair (depending on ability level of course) and such so I thought it’d be helpful to share.

10min Fat Burn HiiT Workout for Wheelchair users | Adapt to Perform

Do My Leg Workout with Me (suitable for amputees) | Isabelle Weall

Impact on Mental Wellbeing

The ironic thing about Coronavirus and the disabled community is that we are used to being isolated, so some may say that not much has changed for them, whereas others may find the fact we’re doubly isolated (for lack of a better term) now a bigger impact on their mental health. When you take the usual disability access related factors into account when going into the big wide world, then ADD struggling to get priority delivery slots and struggling to fill your care rota, it’s easy to see how suffocating our current world can feel.

In a time where we’re relying on the internet and social media interaction more than ever, it’s so important to check in on your disabled friends virtually and see how they are doing. Everybody copes differently and everybody’s experience of lockdown is different. Personally, I am having days of feeling grateful and happy to be safe at home with my family to others feeling quite numb, down and overwhelmed at all the extra things I’ve got to think about being high risk in a pandemic. The hope is when all this is over, we will go out with a new found appreciation for the world and those without disabilities will now understand what isolation really feels like. Empathy is SUCH a powerful emotion and there’s a lot of good that could develop for the disabled community from the pandemic just from people having that bit more awareness.

There’s a few things you can do NOW however to ease the mental load on those with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

  • Check if they need anything. Really simple! If you’re able and can pick up some bits for them during your own shopping trip and drop them off on their doorstep, that’d ease a lot of anxiety especially if that person isn’t “vulnerable enough” for government food parcels etc.
  • Find and suggestion their local COV-19 volunteer group (Facebook). Disabled friends can do this too! That way your friend half way down the country can then have an army of local people at their disposal to pick up bits of food, medications etc.
  • What is your friend into? There is now a wealth of virtual quiz and kareoke nights via FB live or zoom, dance or exercise classes, learn a new language (even signing!) and all sorts really. May be there’s something you can both do together at a set time every week, meet up virtually and enjoy a remote book club, play games or just relax in the garden and chat. All of it is relevant for mental wellbeing and staying connected makes one feel less alone and fearful of everything.

Well, that’s a wrap! I hope that you have found at least one thing useful in this rather lengthly blog post. If there is anything I’ve failed to mention that you think is beneficial for a disabled person in the UK in current times to know about please share in the comments below, any and all suggestions are so helpful.

Until next time, stay safe, stay vigilant and never forget we’re all in this together!

Fi x

Want to make a difference for the disabled people AND the NHS during COV-19?

Great! That’s why I am challenging everybody reading to take part in the #Revita5 challenge to support disabled people like me who rely on a care package and are facing increasing difficulties during this global pandemic. Getting started is easy! Have a look at this fab video and comment below telling me what your *5* is going to be and I will share it across ALL of my blog socials for ultimate exposure.

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About Me

About Me Graphic, Features circular photo of Fi, a fair skinned lady with long straight brown hair and glasses smiling wearing light make-up. Reads; "Hello, I'm Fi. Mummy of 2 littles from Greater Manchester, living with a rare life-limiting form of Muscular Dystrophy. Aspiring to provide information and support for others parenting with a disability, while challenging stigma and common misconceptions while broadening minds of society on disabled parents. Believer of impossibilities and dedicated campaigner of change for the rights of disabled people in the UK.

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