Parents of a young woman with learning disabilities voice concerns for their daughter due to lockdown guidelines for care communities.
When do healthy adults not in the designated clinically vulnerable health categories living in a COVID-19 free environment have to adhere to exactly the same guidelines as elderly people with multi-health issues living in care homes most affected by COVID-19? Answer when those adults have learning disabilities.
We are parents of a young adult living in a care community where the residents live in individual supported households, 6 or 7 residents per house with support staff who work in shifts. In addition to the residential accommodation the community runs workshops – pottery, gardening, bakery etc. for the residents and for students who attend daily. The community is defined as a Care Home and therefore must follow guidelines in place for care homes.
We understand that in the first months of the current crisis things had to move quickly and the most pressing issue was to contain the spread of the virus at all costs but now with the loosening of lockdown, it is time to consider each type of care environment and ensure appropriate and nuanced guidelines whilst containing the virus?
Healthy people with learning disabilities in care communities at the beginning or in the midst of their adult life, are being subject to exactly the same guidelines as those care homes catering to the elderly and those with compromising health issues.
In normal circumstances our daughter would come to the family home every second weekend, for family events and holidays. As things stand, we may only visit with her in the outdoors of the countryside surrounding the community and only one of us is allowed per visit of 30 minutes’ duration in the evening or at weekends. She has not been to the family home for almost 4 months.
As parents we can see that after 4 months this lack of connection with her family and the outside world is beginning to seriously damage her emotional and mental health. To avoid this situation worsening we would, of course, like to just bring her to her family home for a visit. However she would then, on her return to her home, have to isolate for 14 days, no matter if she tests negative for COVID-19. This length of quarantine would most surely have a detrimental impact to her wellbeing. What kind of choice is this?
As the country moves into phase 3 we are fully aware of how as a society we need to be extremely careful not to endanger the success so far but what is the difference in COVID-19 containment terms between a young student living in a communal flat with 5 or 6 others visiting their family home and a resident of a care community doing the same? Our daughter and others are being denied this basic right with no firm health reason underpinning it. It is draconian and unintentionally cruel, and we need urgent meaningful action. The possibility of long-term damage to communities like my daughter’s and its residents is very real.
We need urgent action to create holistic and compassionate guidelines for care communities recognizing the diversity of health issues, needs and care environments. We recognize that the need to contain the virus is paramount, but in this stage of loosening of lockdown the needs of this group of vulnerable citizens must not be ignored.
If this is a war against COVID-19 then residents of care communities for adults with learning disabilities are being seriously wounded by friendly fire.