By Chloe Tear
It feels like every headline you read now is about
This Is The Man Who Wants You To ‘Stay The F**k Home’ To Stop Coronavirus
Coronavirus Officially Declared A Pandemic By The World Health Organisation
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What happens if we get ill and need to self-isolate? Well, disabled people risk being forced into a catch-22 where we need to isolate to protect our compromised immune systems, but where the detrimental effects of self-isolating is far greater too. Self-isolation for many of us would mean losing access to any help with daily tasks and personal care, and even the ability to pick up vital medications. Even something as simple as preparing food or getting a drink could be a challenge.
The government’s reaction to the virus has promoted sick pay from day one and the option for homeworking where possible. This is great, but sickness doesn’t stop there. For disabled people this can be the daily reality of having an often fluctuating condition. Scope and Mind have recently been campaigning for sick pay reform, and they want it to be more flexible, and paid at a fair rate from day one, rather than day four of someone being ill. If this change was made permanent, it would benefit disabled people – as well as anyone who might ever have to go off sick.
Self-isolation for many of us would mean losing access to any help with daily tasks and personal care, and even the ability to pick up vital medications.
I understand this is a temporary situation and is because of a health crisis, but why aren’t these options readily available for disabled people? We find ourselves struggling to find work and are faced with a fight for reasonable adjustments to be implemented. For myself, being at work and being able to contribute gives me a feeling of equality. However, I work from home and this is the only way I could physically hold down a full-time role. The seemingly simple task of commuting would cause fatigue and pain which in turn would make the quality of my work poorer, as well as needing days off to recover. These jobs are far and few between, despite being handed out like hot cakes during the covid-19 outbreak.
Homeworking might not be the easiest option, but it’s been shown to be possible. For the sanity of disabled people, I hope this crisis opens the eyes of employers and means reasonable adjustments are no longer a battle. To revert back to old ways, both with sick pay and flexible working, sends the message that the health and wellbeing of disabled people just isn’t as important.
Please take precautions to prevent yourself and those around you from getting ill. The consequences of not doing so could significantly harm others. All of us deserve to be protected where possible.
Scope’s online community is a supportive space for disabled people, parents and carers to get disability advice and information, and talk to people with similar experiences. Mind also have a coronavirus mental health support page.