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Everyone is finding the coronavirus outbreak difficult, but for disabled people across Britain it presents a whole host of additional challenges.
From missed hospital appointments to supplying PPE for carers, disability campaigner and wheelchair user Hannah Deakin tells Sky News how it has affected her.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an extremely worrying time, especially for disabled people. It feels like we have been forgotten.
There was no mention of disabled people on the briefing made by the prime minister on Sunday. Furthermore, where was the British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter?
Disabled people are just as important. We deserve to be treated equally. Now is the time for change.
Personally, I am not finding it hard mentally, not going out and staying home. It is a vast contrast to my usual life, going to hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and work experience each week.
My resilience maybe due to the fact that a couple of months housebound and in the constraints of our garden is nothing compared to four years in hospital with the majority of that being bedbound. (I am sure this is something many other disabled/chronically ill people can relate to). In other aspects it has been extremely difficult.
I live with my parents and am a powerchair user. I need almost 24/7 care, which I was getting from four personal assistants. But because of the virus situation, I currently have support from only two.
My parents support me so much even in normal circumstances, however due to having less care, I have been relying heavily on my parents, which is hard.
Normally, with a job you have a break in the evening and at weekends. Caring is not like that. At the moment it is more like a 24/7 job for my parents. They are the back-up. However, what about others who don’t have that? Or if my parents become sick?
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How am I supposed to provide PPE?
Along with trying to understand my responsibilities as an employer in these current times, what PAs are entitled to and new rules and regulations around the virus I have the responsibility of getting PPE.
I’ve been told if I got coronavirus or symptoms, my PAs could continue to look after me, but only if I provide them the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).
But hang on a minute! The NHS can’t even get the correct PPE, so how am I supposed to suddenly manage to produce it?
There isn’t really much support. If the NHS don’t have enough equipment and they’re struggling, how are individual disabled people supposed to manage?
Why the R number is so important
I have had my hospital appointment cancelled for October already. It concerns me that this will affect us for a long time. I don’t know what will happen to my appointment this month and then the one in August.
I don’t want to miss them, but part of me is also worried about going into a more high risk environment. I am also, like many, missing out on regular physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions. This is likely to have a detrimental effect on my health and mobility.
I am scared about having access to treatment if I get COVID-19. Will I be treated equally? I believe that currently I should be, nevertheless I and many others are still anxious about it. It would be nice to have some clarity on the subject. It is people’s lives we are talking about. It matters.
Furthermore, the Coronavirus Bill involves the suspension of part of the Care Act 2014. This could be life endangering as disabled people and carers may not get the help they need.
This is extremely frightening. The local authority would only be required to provide care and support to prevent a breach of the person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Although I appreciate we are in an unprecedented situation of national emergency, I hope it is not going to be at the expense of disabled people. It has been said that this will be a temporary suspension, however it concerns me whether it will become permanent.
Individuals and organisations have battled so hard to get the care act passed and it is upsetting it can just be suspended so easily.
We won’t be forgotten. Now is the time for change.