Isolation for the long-term: Covid-19 and those with disabilities

Isolation for the long-term: Covid-19 and those with disabilities

Written by our lovely Shop Manager Jade Tyler. Never more than 2 feet away from something 4 legged, fluffy and cuddly, Jade is our in-house animal whisperer, dog rescuer, and crafty, spooky, cruelty-free queen and illustrator at @pitypartydesign. She has lived with a chronic condition for many years, recently undergoing a leg amputation, and has written for us about remote working in the long-term, those for which this is a reality during and after the Covid-19 crisis, and similar issues close to her heart.

These past few weeks have been a surreal time for a lot of people. We’ve undergone some major changes in the way we live our lives and had to face plenty of challenging, surreal situations. However, the concept of isolation and quarantine are an everyday reality for so many. As a person living with a chronic condition for over a decade, I have been through self-isolation and social distancing long before now. There are thousands of vulnerable people in the same position - and we’ve refined the art of keeping occupied while indefinitely indoors! 

This blog explores some top tips I've learned and some resources for others in similar positions, so we can not only learn from people with experience in situations like this, but do more to accommodate everyone in the future. 

For me personally, having structure and routine in your day makes all the difference. It doesn’t have to be strict, but keeping rough meal times and setting alarms can help to restore a feeling of normality. It’s equally important to remove pressure from yourself. During long periods of recovery, I’ve gone through varying degrees of guilt for my lack of productivity. If you slept in late or didn’t achieve all your tasks for today, that's okay - there’s always tomorrow. You may not always stick to your routine, but having one there has often helped me stay motivated and on track. 

Staying busy doesn’t always mean you have to be productive either. Doing things you enjoy is just as important. Remember to practice your own self care, however that may look. It may be learning a new craft, watching that entire TV show, reading stacks of books or learning new recipes. If you’re unsure how to fill your time - reflect on how you’d relax after a long day. This might help give you an insight into ‘what to do’ at home. 

Keeping patient while there is seemingly no end in sight can definitely put a strain on your mental health - no matter your situation. That’s why community and communication is so essential. Something you’re frequently asked in hospitals or care-based environments is what kind of support network you have in place. Now more than ever it is vital to stay in touch with your loved ones. It’s important to reach out to relatives, co-workers and old friends, and to care for each other too. This can be done in so many ways, such as checking that they’ve got the support & supplies they need. We’ve also received a couple of notes through our door from kind neighbours, offering to walk our dog or pick up groceries. This can make a huge difference to elderly and vulnerable people’s lives. If you’re in a position to help out the people living on your street, there are many ‘COVID19 support’ templates online you can complete.

Equally, remember to check in on your neighbours and friends in high risk categories. If you’re able to, consider donating money or materials to charities that need it too, our blog from last week has lots of ideas. There’s so many ways you can help from home during these hard times. Small ways I’ve seen friends helping their community include;  joining local support groups on social media, sharing posts from small businesses and ordering food from independent restaurants.

Social enterprise app 'Access Rating' was founded by disabled entrepreneurs Mark Esho, Rich Copson and Jignesh Vaidya. "In the absence of people visiting venues due to social distancing restrictions, the founders put their heads together to think of ways in which they could tackle the issue of social isolation amongst the disabled community." They create weekly free virtual events that can be attended by anyone with a laptop and an internet connection. 

People have had to learn very quickly the level of control which illness can have on your life. We've all had to rethink everything from the standpoint of someone with limited ability to leave the house. However, in this there is some good - people’s jobs and opportunities are having to adapt in new ways. Virtual learning resources are becoming widely available in schools and new systems are being implemented to help people work from home. I’ve noticed a real change in perspective and flexibility from employers too - more tasks are being completed remotely, communication is opening up via emails and calls more than ever. Video conferences and meetings really could be the way forward for some who can't normally make it into an office, even when things return to 'normal'. This could especially be beneficial for those in high risk categories.

Let’s push to continue with this level of accessibility once the crisis is over. Supporting those who are vulnerable shouldn’t be an afterthought, it’s a must, and these resources should remain available for those that need them after this ends. There's a lot to learn from this and take forward with us, to make the world a more accessible and inclusive place for everyone.

It's important to get lot of voices on this topic - no two disabilities are the same, and there are many great articles exploring the Covid-19 from the standpoint of many different individuals, and the impact it has had:

Gal-dem mag: As a chronically ill person, I know it is vital we approach coronavirus through the lens of community

Lucy Hassah interviews - What it means to be vulnerable in a pandemic

UN report - preventing discrimination in the Covis-19 response 

COVID-19's isolated world is the norm for people with disabilities

FutureLearn offers online healthcare courses to provide learners with vital skills, research and training for professional development

Rehab4Addiction has created a guide about guarding mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

You can see Jade’s story takeover highlight on our Instagram here, to see how her (and her pup Ripley) spend their day!