There are strange and extraordinary things happening to everyone across the UK and the world in relation to Covid-19 and responding and reacting to the situation. There are lots of issues that you may be thinking about, how to manage what is happening and how to process all of this as it is changing so quickly.
Here are some things to consider in relation to the current situation. Over the next few weeks, we will be updating it as we all learn more and we will be sharing ideas and insight.
Explaining and coping with social distancing and isolation
This is something that we have never really experienced before as a society within this century. It is very difficult to go from a society that relies on social interaction and places to go to be together to staying at home and feeling very isolated from friends and family.
Social distancing, shielding and lockdown are needed at the moment to protect us all. Lockdown feels very formal and a bit scary but it is only in place to slow down the spread of the virus. The spread of Covid-19 in other countries and in the UK shows that if we can slow the spread then we can cope with the impact on our health services. So, keeping people in their homes and movement to a minimum is a much better strategy for everyone to minimise contact and possible spread.
Anyone with any symptoms should be self-isolating but those who are within the vulnerable category (chronic liver disease) should be practicing social distancing which means staying home, only going out to do essential things like buying food, collecting your medication etc, and those who are classed as extremely vulnerable (organ transplant, on immunosuppression medication) should be practicing shielding which means staying at home for the next 12 weeks and not going out for any reason unless medically required. This means that someone else should be assisting with getting food to you and other essentials and anyone who lives with you should be staying at least 2 metres away and you should be using different facilities or using them before anyone else.
You have always had to consider things that other children/young people don’t. You will have experience of being very poorly from infections that wouldn’t have much effect on other children who don’t have a liver condition. So, it is even more essential to restrict your access to people who may have the virus and not know it because there is a risk that the virus will have more of an impact on those with an underlying health condition. However, we also know that your liver condition continues while Covid-19 is here and you still need to do what you have always done to take care of yourself including taking your medication and attending appointments if it is deemed essential by your specialist liver team. It may be that you have telephone appointments with your medical team. You will be notified directly if this is the case.
So, we have all the reasons why you should be social distancing and shielding but the reality is that this is difficult for everyone. The whole situation is creating anxiety and panic and being isolated from your usual support network will just amplify this. So how should we manage this situation. We have to consider strategies to reduce our worry and anxiety around this.
Follow a routine and this will make you feel more in control of the situation. Or think of it as an opportunity to do things at home that you haven’t had the chance to do because of work or study. Read all those books you have been saving up and watch those box sets that you have heard great things about. Consider that if there was a best time in our history to go through something like this then this is it because we have access to technology that means we don’t have to be alone. We have smart phones that link us to friends and families via Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom etc. We have access to a huge wealth of interactive resources and videos that can educate us and entertain when we just need a giggle – four huskies on a travellator strutting to Staying Alive has just made my day! There are exercise gurus providing daily routines that will keep us physically active and mindfulness to reduce anxiety and enhance mental wellbeing. Basically, there are thousands of amazing, interactive and fun resources that can keep our minds and bodies as active as we need to be.
Work and finances
So, what about the fact that social distancing and shielding means that I can’t work and therefore I can’t pay my bills. My job doesn’t allow me to work from home and so if I don’t go to work I don’t get paid. I may lose my job or be laid off temporarily or just not get paid while I am at home. After all of this I can go back to my job but in the short-term I am without any income and I have rent/mortgage to pay, food to buy, medicines to pay for and bills to pay. What do I do?
It is very difficult but what we do know is there are going to thousands of people in the same boat. All of those working in the leisure industry are unable to work due to current government guidance and there are lots of other jobs that rely on people to be viable. The Government has very recently promised financial support to employers to allow them to continue to pay employees if they are having to be laid off due to the current restrictions so this may mean that you will be paid while you are laid off. However, you should also speak to your providers, be it gas, electricity, credit card providers, banks, your landlord etc and explain your situation.
The government will not allow people to lose their homes or be pushed into loads of debt when this is completely outside of their control. Banks are allowing mortgage holidays and some are getting rid of fees on missed payments, other companies will have to consider how they can support people in the short-term. There is no magic wand while this is all happening and it will take time to reduce the spread of the virus so for the moment the overarching message is don’t panic or become overwhelmed. There is advice and information available which will give you the facts and help you to make a plan of how to manage over the next few months.
Try these websites for further information and guidance:
What about education? Children and young people are now facing a potential 5-month break from education and this could be even longer for higher education students. That’s a long time to stay motivated and focused in terms of learning from home. Some children will continue to attend schools but all universities and colleges are closed so there is no option but to self-educate. All schools and higher education establishments have to provide ongoing access to learning to ensure that children and young people do not have a gap in their learning that will hinder them later on in life. Teachers and tutors will have online portals which will contain homework and home study materials that will need to be completed and submitted. They will continue to be available to you for support and advice as educators will continue to work during the coming months.
Those year 11 and year 13 students who had worked so hard to get to their exams in May will feel a real mix of emotions. Initial elation will be followed by confusion about what it actually means for them to downright disappointment and anger that this is what all their effort has led to. What we do know is that the government and schools will not allow this extraordinary situation to disadvantage young people and that they will still succeed based on everything that they have achieved in past assessments and classwork. Of course it is sad that year 13 young people will be ending their school years in such an odd way but they will be a unique year group and will be able to talk about what happened when they finished school for the rest of their life.