The ALLIANCE has responded to the Scottish Government's call for comment on plans to change shielding arrangements.
The Scottish Government invited views on the next steps for people who are shielding in Scotland.
Our response highlights that COVID-19 does not have the same impact on everyone and it is already disproportionately affecting some individuals and groups within society – including people with learning disabilities, women, and unpaid carers. We believe that this disproportionate impact should be clearly acknowledged and specifically addressed in Scotland’s approach to decision making – including the development of plans for people who are shielding and their families, centred on their lived experience.
The ALLIANCE believe that many of the shielding people we work with would welcome increased flexibility and agency; people report that the current arrangements have led them to feel as if they have lost all control over their lives, with increased loneliness, uncertainty, and mental health pressures. However, while for many people more flexibility would be welcome, inconsistent messaging could increase anxiety for other people who are shielding – who have already expressed considerable confusion and alarm over what activities they can undertake.
We suggest that it is essential that suitably tailored communications about changes to shielding guidance are shared clearly and consistently with all population groups, including plans for cascading information to every part of the community in appropriate languages and accessible formats.
The ALLIANCE makes a range of recommendations as the Scottish Government considers the next steps for their plan on shielding, including:
- Mainstreaming and embedding equalities and human rights in practice as well as principle.
- Taking a human rights based approach to financial decision making, including resource allocation, budgets and expenditure.
- Ensuring people and organisations are actively involved in meaningful decision making, with independent support to do so if required.
- Providing specific, inclusive and accessible communications for and with people who access support and unpaid carers. This should not solely focus on blanket communications to the whole population but tailored advice for groups such as people living with long term conditions and disabled people. Communications should be available in multiple languages and formats.