Lockdown 2.0 – here we go again …

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5 November 2020

Clare talks about keeping her family safe as England goes back into lockdown.

Today is the first day of the second lockdown in England. Life has been a buzz of information processing for the last few days. It has been a time of stress trying to balance the risk and benefits to the family. 

You see we have a child, Arthur, in our family who remains in the highly medical vulnerable category. This means that if he catches Covid-19 he may die. When Arthur gets any infection he often ends up hospitalised so I believe that this sadly would also be the case for our boy if he caught Covid-19.

Initially Boris Johnson said that those in the highly medical vulnerable category had to be ‘extremely careful’. This was not a very helpful statement. Thankfully however the Government Advice document for this category was amended yesterday giving more detail as to how to be extremely careful!

As a family we have been reviewing the risks and benefits of things that we are going to be doing. It really is a balancing act, and I feel, a very personal one where there are no right or wrong decisions. For us, of course as with many families, the thought of how would we feel if Arthur caught Covid-19? If he was hospitalised would we, reflecting back, feel we had done all we could to prevent him being there?

Balances and risks

These are our balances:

Ken: Ken has been working from home since March. We are fortunate that he works in a management capacity at a university so his role can be done from home rather than needing to go onto campus. We are also lucky to have a designated office for Ken to work from at home. Those working in the lounge, kitchen, bedroom … I admire you as it cannot be easy.

Me: Well I’m not sure on reflection whether it was good timing or not, but two weeks ago today I had ankle surgery. I am normally full-time carer for Arthur but obviously now I am on crutches, can’t bear weight and quite frankly, am no use to anyone. I need help. Due to my surgery we have had an increase in carer support and while we are grateful for this, it also comes with risks as the carers are visiting other clients. We have arranged with the agency that carers come to Arthur first and that they use PPE. We are ventilating the house (wearing lots of layers and jumpers now the weather is cooler!). 

We are being as Covid-19 safe as we can, but the carers shifts are six hours and as we know many people can be asymptomatic in the early stages of infection there is still some risk still present. My head is spinning with the additional risks I am exposing Arthur to due to my operation, however I can’t turn back time. 

Arthur: Arthur has what is called an EOTAS (education other than at school) bespoke education package funded by the Local Education Authority. He has had this provision for just over a year. From a Covid-19 perspective this is quite low risk as he doesn’t mix with any other children (He used to with one aspect of his package but now uses the facility on his own). He has a tutor, but we are fortunate that Arthur is her only student and so the only risk really is that she has four children who attend school. She is wearing a face mask and distancing where possible. 

In the last lockdown with Arthur’s previous tutor we tried Zoom teaching but this didn’t work and so I became Arthur’s tutor. This time we are hoping to continue face to face teaching. We are also hoping to keep his appointments going – Arthur has the first appointment of the week with his occupational therapist so again we will keep this going. His Speech and language therapist we are also continuing rather than going on to zoom.  We made these decisions because Arthur is a lot more unsettled and harder to engage at the moment. He struggles with change and me currently not being his main carer is a huge change for him. He will also continue forest school as currently he is the only pupil! 

Benjamin:  Our youngest son Benjamin attends a mainstream primary school. He is in a year group bubble of 60 children. Benjamin has Asperger’s Syndrome so structure and routine are easiest for him, he struggled in the previous lockdown. Ken walks him to school which is local. Government guidance says he should continue to attend. This is of course not without risks and it really feels like a balancing act of one child’s needs against the other but we are going to continue to let Benjamin attend school. 

Benjamin and Arthur are very different children and to be honest they almost naturally social distance from each other anyway. Arthur likes to be in control of noise and so when Benjamin is home will often spend more time in his bedroom.

I am sure there will be families that will take the decision to homeschool their children when they have a family member that is vulnerable. For now for us that doesn’t feel necessary we are in quite a low Covid-19 infection rate area, but who knows? In future weeks we may change our mind.

To conclude I just want to say all we can do is make the best decisions we can at the time. Risks and benefits need constant review, but we cannot allow that process to take over our lives. We have to find a way of living within this pandemic.  

Praying you all stay safe and well.

The Powell Family.

If you would like to share your thoughts on lockdown and Covid-19 please get in touch, covid-19@geneticalliance.org.uk.