Shielding

This photo of my daughter K was taken on Mother’s Day. We celebrated it in the simplest manner as most Mums did this year. I am J, a Mum of 2 daughters K, aged 18 and M, 12, wife to N and I am a health professional. This is my first blog on my first blogsite.

I have written a couple of articles in the past that have been featured on social media and a magazine. I am also in the process of writing a book about another life changing experience we encountered a few years ago.

I have now decided to start a blog as we see ourselves being drawn into worrying times with Covid-19. A situation where no matter how much we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones, no matter how we educate ourselves about it, no matter what age or how healthy we are, we could still be infected with this virus.

My family and I have been extremely cautious in the last few weeks as we noticed the situation  in the UK escalating. Washing hands, cleaning surfaces, social distancing, creating a room so that if one of us developed a fever/dry cough we could isolate ourselves and teaching the girls how to cook for themselves and to be even more independent.  We have been preparing for a life indoors for a few weeks now. We now find ourselves in the midst of a Coronavirus Pandemic.

My oldest daughter K is a vulnerable adult, with underlying medical issues and Down Syndrome.

The girls have always lead a sociable life attending various after school clubs and meeting up with friends. They also love school. N and I have busy jobs and when not at work, as most modern parents, we are busy with home life.

As this crisis was getting closer, we took an independent decision to take on Social Distancing. We avoided crowded shopping centres, supermarkets and also started online piano and singing lessons. We spoke to the girls about how to protect themselves; we stopped meeting up with friends and encouraged face time. We were avoiding unnecessary contact with people.  Work and school were the only reasons for leaving home.

We were relieved when schools closed as we felt that would definitely prevent spread with the virus even though children may have mild symptoms or none at all.

Our first day of home schooling went well. The idea of online schooling with teachers teaching from their own home was an exciting experience for M.

Being 18, K normally enjoys spending time on her own, or with friends. I however managed to spend time with her yesterday trying to help her get into a routine for the next few months. She loves routine. She loves school. I had to make her understand that it is now our routine to do school work at home. Thankfully it was as successful as it could be.

However what I did not expect was a text saying  she is one of the 1.5 million people that fitted the ‘Extremely Vulnerable’ Group who needs shielding for 12 weeks. This meant we needed to make even more changes in our lives to protect her. The guidance is much stricter and it is a scary thought that my 18 year old is at the highest risk if she gets Covid 19.

According to the ‘Public Health Guidance’

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Shielding is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus. The Guidance states..

You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. Please note that this period of time could change

There is also further guidance on how to manage ‘shielding ‘ one self if they live with someone else eg not sharing a bedroom/bathrooms, others washing their hands regularly, limiting time spent together in shared spaces, regular cleaning of surfaces, eating in their own room, using separate towels etc, the list is long but all makes sense.

K lives in a home with 3 other family members, she has a learning disability and she is a sociable child. All these factors makes it diffcult to follow every single piece of advice but as a family we owe it to K to give it our best effort , along with protecting her mental health.

It might be difficult to make her understand why she is unable to step out of the house for 12 weeks. She understands there is a virus around. She understands she needs to wash her hands often and change her clothes daily. She understands that she has to learn at home and not at school at the moment. She understands that she can’t see her friends but she has to Facetime them. She understands that we need to sit a distance away from each other. She understands that once again her holiday to Florida isn’t happening.

Maybe she understands more than I think. K went through a life changing event 4 years ago. Her life came to a halt with no warning.

This time, she has been warned. This time, she has been given time to prepare. This time, she isn’t doing this on her own and instead with the rest of the world.

This time it is not going to last as long. This time Florida will be rearranged to next year and not 3 years later. This time she feels well and she is at home with her family. This time she is ready.

The four of us have been distancing from each other as much as we could . I will be needing to take a break from work for a few months as I need to care for her and need to consider remote working.

My husband and I are also concerned about how our girls will cope if we are both taken ill.

We are trying to eat healthily and exercise to increase our fitness levels, hoping this will help with recovery when we get the infection

Every day we read real life stories that tell us that anyone can be infected and deaths have been reported in various age groups.

The real life stories and seeing videos and photos of those affected makes it all so real and sad.

My thinking is to take on every bit of advice given, do everything you can and listen to your instincts, so that one day you do not say to yourself..’I regret not doing …. or I wish I had done…’.

Please read the guidance if you have had a text from NHS Coronavirus like we have.

We need to #staysafe #isolatetoprotect #socialdistancing to help get through this .

6 thoughts on “Shielding

  1. Thank you JaHa for providing an insight into what is for now is the new norm and the unique challenges your family faces in the coming months. During Ks illness many people reached out to provide practical help, this time round that’s sadly not as easy, but we can keep talking and in your case blogging xx

    Liked by 1 person

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