This week’s blog has been a tough one to write. The reality is that normal life isn’t normal at the moment and although there’s still plenty to talk about, there are many topics currently taking up space in our minds. So, if you’ll allow me, I’ll talk about a few things that I’ve been thinking about and maybe it will resonate with some of you.
To be honest, when the lock-down began, I had such an overwhelming feeling of pride; having spent my working life fighting for people to be protected and for human life to be prioritised, I was humbled to see the extent to which our country and society would go to protect our elderly and vulnerable members. Like many of you, when information came out about COVID-19 my immediate concerns were for my parents and sister and I went in to planning mode to make sure they could get everything they need, whilst also staying as isolated as possible. Banners over social media were issued, asking people to stay home to save lives; we began to hear about people who were not only caring for their families but were checking on their neighbours; we began to remember what an amazing and brave job NHS workers do and it felt wonderful to be part of a society that was finally prioritising human life.
And then… stories started to change. I started to see the stories that spoke about elderly patients being contacted by their GPs and being pressured into signing ‘Do not Resuscitate’ forms (according to Age UK and Independent Age), there were fears being raised by some people with disabilities who feared they wouldn’t be offered the same treatment options as those who did not have disabilities, including people with autism.
I was lost for words.
Like everybody else I can understand how the pressure on the NHS is formidable during this time and I have such admiration for all our NHS staff who are doing their absolute best in these extreme circumstances. However, I couldn’t help but think that stories like those mentioned above, are indicative of a society that has no patience for illness or disability and for decades has been devaluing the lives of people in these groups. I do wonder if we lived in a society that celebrated age and was fully inclusive of disability over the last 50 years, whether our health and social care system would be in a much better place than we seem to be right now.
My niece asked me a question the other day… she said ‘why is the Coronavirus happening to us, I don’t understand what we learn from this.’ Taken off guard, I had to think for a minute and I began to consider a few things. Maybe there are a number of things we can learn from a time like this; we can learn to take time to appreciate what we have, instead of what we don’t. We can appreciate our families and friends and learn not to take them for granted. We can learn what it is to put other people first – even people we don’t know. We can learn to appreciate the NHS and our front-line key workers and invest in these services rather than pick them clean. Above all, I hope we can learn to appreciate how precious human life is, in all it’s glorious and unique forms and remember that when it really comes down to it, we are prepared to sacrifice a great deal to try and save it. If that’s a lesson we can truly take into our hearts, then maybe we can try and make some sense of these strange times we’re living in.