It is important that we not only take precautions to our physical wellbeing during these uncertain times. However, our mental health is equally as important – if you are worried about your mental health, please reach out to someone and look at the resources below.
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, many parts of Bristol have set up neighborhood response groups for people to communicate and support one another. Find your local group here – all are on Facebook.
Understandably, you may find that social distancing can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being outside with other people.
At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:
- look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website
- spend time doing indoor things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to the radio or watching TV programmes
- try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
- keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden
You can also go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.
Further information on looking after your mental health during this time is available.
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
They are to:
– Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
– Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.
– Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information.
– Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
– Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
– Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.
The government strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:
- are over 70
- have an underlying health condition
- are pregnant.
This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.
The time restrictions on when you can use your Diamond Travelcard (concessionary passes) have been relaxed so you can access shopping times specifically for older people. You can find out more information here.
What does it mean for Disabled adults?
The Bill suspends every duty in the Care Act, 2014, including the duty to meet the eligible needs of Disabled people (Section 18) and their carers (Section 20). Under the #CoronaVirus Bill, Local Authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’ for the purposes of avoiding a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). There is no human right to social care or positive obligation under the ECHR to meet care needs. See assessment from leading lawyers specialising in Social Care here: https://www.39essex.com/the-coronavirus-bill-schedule-11/
Other changes set to be introduced through the #CoronaVirusBill will allow health bodies to delay carrying out an assessment for eligibility for NHS continuing care.
What does it mean for Disabled children and young people?
Duties for young people transitioning to adult social care have also been suspended.
The Secretary of State for Education will have power to disapply the duty on schools and other institutions to admit a child to a school where they are named on an EHCP. The Secretary of State will be able to vary provisions of the act, such as the core duty to procure provision set out in an EHCP, so instead of being an absolute duty it becomes a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty, creating a lesser entitlement for up to two years.
What about the Mental Health Act?
The power to recommend individuals be detained under the Mental Health Act will be implemented using one doctor’s opinion instead of two, making it easier for people to be detained.
The proposed bill will temporarily allow the extension or removal of time limits in mental health legislation which means individuals might be released into the community early, or find themselves detained for longer.
Under section 5, emergency detention for people already in hospital would extend from 72 hours to 120 hours, and nurses’ holding powers would extend from 6 to 12 hours. Under sections 135 and 136, police powers to detain a person found in need of immediate care at a “place of safety” will extend from 24 hours to 36 hours. Under section 35/36, the cap on how long someone can be held in hospital while awaiting a report (currently 12 weeks) will be lifted.
What about the rights of Disabled people?
Local authorities will have a duty to uphold Disabled people’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, BUT the threshold for a breach, in terms of not providing care and support is high, which means that Disabled people will be left without care and support. Lack of care and support will have a significant impact on Disabled people’s well-being, but may not be considered to reach the threshold for their human rights to have been breached – they will NOT have a right to care and support.
Sources of information
Watch @stevebroach, Public Law Barrister talk about the impact of the Bill here: chttps://www.39essex.com/the-coronavirus-bill-schedule-11/
Read this Twitter thread for more information: https://twitter.com/JamieBurton29/status/1240781535340568577
Statement from National User Survivor Network: https://www.nsun.org.uk/News/covid-19-and-human-rights
Current hashtags: #CoronaVirusBill #CoronavirusBillUK
Inclusion London is driving the campaign about this. Find out more, and find details of how to write to your MP at the Inclusion London website here: https://t.co/OYWexrscvW?amp=1
You don’t need us to tell you that the current situation is an especially big issue for Disabled people, but I’d like to tell you what we have done, and found out, so far.
1. People on Direct Payments
We have written to the Council asking them to write to everyone on Direct Payments, including those who fund their own care, explaining:
– What, as employers, we should be doing;
– Where we can get PA cover for any staff self-isolating or ill,
given that many struggle to find PAs even when offering ‘permanent’ employment;
– What funding BCC provides/will be providing so we can
pay both sick pay for existing PAs who can’t work and for
the PA cover we need, bearing in mind that no-one can
survive just on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and, even if they
could, many PAs don’t earn enough to qualify for it;
– What additional support BCC will be offering those people
who are especially restricted by the impact of COVID-19
e.g. funding for those who don’t usually get funding for
someone to do shopping, pick up items etc.
We have also asked WECIL if they will be providing a database of all PAs who are available, so that you can find cover for any of your PAs who go off sick or self-isolate.
Unfortunately, they don’t have one, at yet but are working on something. I will let you know when they have completed this.
I will also let you know as soon as I get a response from the Council. But, in the meantime, you can try the following, if you need support:
Can Do website: Lots of people have posted that they are happy to help with some tasks. Obviously this won’t include personal care though.
Don’t worry too much. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s good to keep in mind that:
– the guidance for the general public (wash hands regularly for at least 20seconds each time, throw tissues in the bin as soon as you’ve used them, etc) will keep most of use safe;
– to date, just 7 people in Bristol definitely have this corona virus (called covid-19). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful, but it is a reason not to worry too much, too soon.
– becoming very anxious can actually lower our resistance to infections so it’s a good idea to avoid getting very anxious if you possibly can.
– we all need to keep a sense of proportion e.g. thousands and thousands of ‘vulnerable’ people in the UK die from the respiratory complications’ of flu every year, without most of us being at especially high risk.
– the government is (understandably) taking a very cautious “assume the worst and hope for the best” approach. So, the advice is based on assuming lots of people are at risk until such time as there is lots of evidence they aren’t – which the opposite of the usual way national health decisions are taken.
GWR will be transitioning to an Emergency Measures Agreement.
The focus – in fact the whole of the railway industry’s focus – is making sure they can continue to provide the services key workers need to get to where they want to go.
It also means that they can refund Advance tickets purchased before 23 March, and administration fees are waived on season ticket refunds.
GWR continue to talk to government about the next steps for GWR after the Emergency Measures Agreement, the government have said this thus far. – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-ensures-ticket-refunds-and-protects-services-for-passengers-with-rail-emergency-measures
COVID-19 (corona virus) Update 21.03.2020
Managing infection control
Worried about getting supplies of sanitiser etc for your PAs or carers? Then read on.
I’ve just spoken to a qualified clinician about what local NHS staff are being told to do to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and she has told me the following:
1. For cleaning surfaces, use bleach at a strength of 10mls of bleach to 100ml water, as this is much more effective than any sanitiser liquid you can buy. But, don’t use this for your skin.
2. Don’t use masks as your breath creates a warm damp environment inside the mask that actually encourages the virus to multiply.
3. The most effective way to reduce transmission via your hands is by,
– cleaning them with soap and water for at least
20seconds each time and washing them
– not wearing gloves for anything you wouldn’t
usually use them for, and definitely not wearing
them for any significant period of time as the
damage this can do to your skin. That matters
because damaged skin is susceptible to every
germ going around;
– open doors with your bottom rather than your
hands and, where the doors are shut and need
you to use a handle to open them, wipe them
down with the bleach mixture in point 1 above;
– press any buttons to make things work e.g. lift
buttons with your knuckle instead of using your
4. Get your PAs (or carers) to do one or more of the free, online training modules in hygiene and infection control. The address is:
5. If, you have very specific clinical need to use gloves etc, have a word with the pharmacy you usually use. They are likely to be happy to help you access supplies.
I am also waiting to hear what support the Council will be offering Disabled and older people so check back here every few days for any updates.
Keep safe and well,
When times are hard it is always lovely to come across so many people offering to help out others. However, when you are a Disabled and older people who is ‘self-isolating’ or ‘socially distancing’ yourself, it makes sense to take one or two precautions.
So, here is a few we recommend:
If possible, only accept help from someone you know and know is trustworthy.
If this isn’t possible, when a stranger (including someone who says they are your neighbour) offers you help you should make sure you find out:
1. Their name
2. Which group they are volunteering with
3. Who runs the group
4. What their contact details are
5. What the group are doing, where they are doing it and why
6. What health and safety precautions they will take
7. What their policy is on keeping you safe
8. Who you can speak to:
– in an emergency
– if you have concerns about the volunteer you are in contact with or
– if you need help or advice.