A reflection on the lesser-reported struggles of lockdown

Some people are more reflective than others, but lockdown and the new restrictions and worries in our lives since March have given most people a bit more time and cause to reflect.

All our tenants at Care Housing Association have support needs, so, though our jobs in supported housing may not be obvious key worker roles, we have not slowed down. We understand the importance of continuing to provide safe, high-quality homes and to work with our partners to help vulnerable people maintain their supported tenancies.

It has been acknowledged that guidelines to combat coronavirus had not initially considered people with disabilities, and though care homes have had time in the spotlight, issues affecting supported housing in the community seem to have been underreported. It’s hard to see why there’s been such little consideration of people with autism and/or learning disabilities who are likely to find social distancing rules much harder to understand and abide by, and the changes in routine very stressful in some cases. On top of this, support teams suddenly wearing masks, banning high-fives and cancelling trips and visits from family members could easily be perceived as punishment if you don’t understand the concept of a pandemic. Then for some who have learned that it’s not safe for people to visit, there are new anxieties when others do need to come in their home e.g. to carry out a repair.

We have tenants who are experiencing these sorts of issues, and support provider partners who are doing their best to deal with them and find creative ways to keep people safe, included and happy, alongside managing staffing shortages due to isolation guidelines and increased costs from PPE…

The news has reported people committing fraud to take advantage of those desperate for tests or treatment for the virus, as well as large illegal gatherings and other breaches of lockdown rules. We noticed ourselves an increase in tenancy breaches such as property damage, nuisance and tenants getting pets without permission. But we’re not surprised and are working to understand each case in the context of individual support needs, frustrations and loneliness. Our Care Foundation grant has been more popular than ever as people have thought of things they could apply for to enhance wellbeing or lifestyle in this ‘new normal’.

We find it very sad that some of the same neighbours observed joining in to clap for carers have caused damage to several cars belonging to support staff at one of our schemes, seemingly just because there are now more people and cars at home during the day, and they find it inconvenient not to be able to park in their preferred spot.

The media hasn’t been all negative – stories of lots of individual and group efforts have been shared over the past 5 months. Some incredible amounts of money have been raised for great causes, community initiatives have been set up to help those worst affected and the world came together to shout ‘up yours corona’ on the radio!

I suppose my reflection is a reminder to be conscious of those around us who may be having a very different experience, and to ask shouldn’t we still be kind when no one is watching?

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