March 2020 - and beyond
Most - if not all - of the world has been, and continues to be, affected by coronavirus or (to give it its proper name) SARS-CoV-2 (also known as Covid-19). In the UK, governments across all 4 nations have issued a succession of both guidance and, at least for England, fairly extensive emergency legisation. This situation may continue in changeable form for some time.
Many initial pieces of guidance were quickly superceded - but this was not always clearly explained or understood. In the UK, this led to a number of people over the age of 70 erroneously believing they were part of a group that was required to 'shield' and not go out at all until late July. However, this was not the case. 'Shielding' itself has nothing to do with age on its own: it has everything to do with those individuals (of all ages) with a higher medical (clinical) risk to their health should they contract Covid-19 because they already live with a range of specific health conditions that are, in this case, generally to do with lungs, heart, or the immune system. The general advice to people over 70 who don't have these specific health conditions was that they could do the same as everyone else, they just needed to be more careful - for example, go out to the shops as infrequently as possible.
Trying to stay up to date with what is sensible, what is possible, and what is allowed has become quite a task for everyone; particularly bearing in mind the differences between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A good starting point is the government website for the country in which you live; a good next point is the local council (local authority) in which you live.
For anyone needing support because they live with serious illness, disability, or life-changing injury - and for family and friends involved in providing a 'carer' role as part of this overall support - the impact of coronavirus has been and continues to be significant for a whole host of reasons. During 'lockdown' some people have been able to take part in all sorts of things that were previously denied to them or difficult to access precisely because so much that was normally only 'in-person' or provided in specific buildings moved either online or to analogue technology (which just means the 'old' stuff, like using a phone and sending things in the post). For others, there have been successive losses as the places that were accessible and useful/interesting - swimming pools, arts centres, libraries, cafes, day centres - closed down. Health services were cancelled and postponed for many. Care staff were ill or unavailable because they or someone they lived with were 'shielding'. Family members and friends took on far more caring roles. Care homes 'locked down' but in many cases were unable to prevent the too often fatal spread of coronavirus to residents. Supermarkets, local shops, pharmacies, cafes, pubs, food banks, hotels, and above all volunteers, took on roles to make sure that people who couldn't get to the shops or cook or didn't have any money (however temporarily) actually had somewhere to stay, some food, and prescribed medications. Others danced or sang or played music outside in the street, or made phone calls, or sent things through the post, or left craft materials and puzzles outside front doors. Many came out of retirement to return to nursing and other clinical roles. And, importantly, those volunteers included at least some of those living with serious illness, disability, life-changing injury. In the best examples, this was not - and should never have been - about 'doing to', but about 'doing with'.
Much has changed in the broad field of health, care, and housing - and more change is very likely to follow. In times of uncertainty, flexibility and invention may be two of the most helpful approaches to finding what works for you - or for someone you know - in these 'new times', along with thinking about community-based approaches. Here are some organisations - mostly charities and Community Interest Companies (CICs) that might be good first steps if you need help, information, or just some ideas to get your own thinking going:
Age-friendly communities in the UK
Buurtzorg in the UK
Disability Rights UK
Marie Curie UK
Relatives and Residents Association
Small Good Stuff
All best wishes, to all.
My consultancy work
I've been working with and for older people for a very long time! Most of my work has covered people's needs to access, and experiences of, health, housing and social care services. My work is UK-based, mostly in England.
What interests me most is finding out about people and their lives.
There's often a lot of talk about 'care' and 'support' or 'care services' - but one of the most important starting points is to ask, what is the care or the support there to do? What's its purpose? How will it - how does it - help someone do the things and have the relationships that matter most to them? In other words, how does it best serve that person's life? You can also turn the question on its head by asking what and who the person wants to have in their life and to do, in order to work out what might best help achieve that.
I've spent a lot of time over the years listening to and speaking with people who are sharing whatever they feel is okay to tell me about themselves and their lives - past, present, and future. Sometimes that's involved explaining about options when people are trying to find care or support, sometimes it's been finding out about someone else's experiences of different aspects of current life, or what people think about an issue. Some of that listening and discussion has been one to one, and some in groups. Since 2013 I've also been recording and sharing some of those individual stories digitally through photofilms - with the person's permission. You can see some examples here - http://vimeo.com/lornaeasterbrook.
I've carried out this sort of work for universities, local authorities, the NHS, central government, national charities, local charities, housing associations, private sector organisations, and private individuals.
This website will tell you:
- about the consultancy work on offer
- my background, and my approach
- what it might cost
- how to get in touch.
To do this work, I often need to find out information from people - things like their names and contact details, the facts of their situation or circumstances, or someone's views or experiences on a topic for discussion. This sort of information is called 'data'. You can find out how I comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and EU General Data Protection Regulation here. You can see a copy of my registration with the Information Commissioner's office here.
You can also see a copy of my working policy with regard to the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and adult safeguarding, here.
You may want to start browsing this site by looking under About. Feel free to do your own thing! but please check the legal bit first.
The legal bit:
All content on this site is copyright ©Lorna Easterbrook 2013-2020