COVID-19 is hitting those of us with underlying health conditions and the eldest in society hardest. This is a new situation for all, though the expected response would be for the younger and more able of us to offer those less fortunate our support. Paradoxically, we can’t easily support these people as the nature of the spread of coronavirus means that, here in England, those at risk have been asked to self isolate for 12 weeks. Looking out for the elderly and vulnerable during COVID-19 is the natural, caring thing to do, isn’t it?
Age UK tell us that around 2.2 million people aged 75 and above live alone in England. Quite a statistic. There was already an epidemic of loneliness before COVID-19 coronavirus arrived. So how do we go about ensuring the most vulnerable in society are not further isolated?
Government advice tells us that we should only leave our homes for these reasons:
- Shopping for necessities
- Once a day for exercise – alone, or with members of your household
- Medical need or providing care
- Travelling to or from work (if you are unable to work from home)
If you have to go out for any of the above reasons, you must keep 2 metres apart from other people (those not from your household). This leaves little scope for easily looking out for the elderly and vulnerable during COVID-19. Picking up necessities for elderly or vulnerable neighbours that are self isolating is, however, permitted. The key being that you remain 2 metres away from them when making contact, Ideally, speak by telephone or by text or through social media. If you’ve picked up food and drink for people, it’s best to drop it at the doorstep, knock the door and step well back prior to the elderly or vulnerable person picking up the supplies you have brought them.
Of most importance here, is not forgetting about your vulnerable or elderly neighbours who can’t easily access food and drink. Not everybody can order food online (when there’s a slot available to do so). And not everyone has family to help them.