My experiences of Covid-19

A slightly different blog post

I’m writing this on my final day of self-isolation, having started with Covid-19 symptoms ten days ago.

From what I can gather, I’ve had a rather mild experience of the virus. I’m a healthy, active person. I’m not at risk due to my age, and I don’t have any underlying health conditions.

But I do live on my own, and I have spent ten very lonely and quite scary days not knowing what to expect and feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of information on the internet, the news, the TV and social media.

I’m really excited to be able to go out for a walk tomorrow when my self-isolation period is over, and I know I will be paying attention to what is going on around my neighbourhood with a fresh pair of eyes.

Here’s what I experienced over the past 10 days:

I have not known whether my symptoms are following the ‘usual’ pattern and timeline. I have not known when I can expect to be feeling better or felt clear about when it is acceptable for me to start working again. I have not known whether I am entitled to any financial support while I am not able to work.

I have not known whether to expect a sudden ‘dip’ in my well-being, after thinking that I am recovering.

I have not known when a day of no energy and very ‘foggy’ brain might indicate that I am getting worse or that I may need medical attention.

At my most anxious, I tried to call the NHS 111 helpline for reassurance as advised, and was greeted with a recorded message telling me that they were experiencing a high volume of calls and that I should look on the website for information.

I think one of the worst parts of the illness has been the anxiety.

It got me thinking.

Covid-19 is one of many many health conditions experienced by people in our communities; but there are so many people out there who live with this type of anxiety on a daily basis- due to long term physical or mental health conditions, disability or other forms of disadvantage.

Whilst my experience with Covid-19 has been very unpleasant, I know that I am likely to make a full recovery and return to a life without that level of anxiety and uncertainty; but for many people- this is their norm. For some people, they will go on to live with the symptoms of Long Covid for a long time after their initial period of illness has ended.

So what are the things that really make a difference?

  • A credible, reliable source of clear and accessible information which can be trusted amidst the sea of opinion, conspiracy theories, well-meaning advice and scaremongering

(I focused on the information provided by the NHS test and trace service, and I avoided social media, TV etc because it was feeding my anxiety)

  • Hearing from people who have been through the same experience and will provide reassurance that things can improve

(I spoke to people I knew personally- who had already experienced Covid, and had since recovered)

  • A guaranteed place to go for help- someone who can listen and provide support when needed

(I chose key people who were happy for me to call any time I needed support. At my most anxious points, these people were checking in on me by phone on an hourly basis to provide me with reassurance that there would be help if I needed it)

  • Practical help to keep things in your life going, whilst you’re not feeling well or resilient enough to do them yourself

(I had somebody who could run errands for me- collect medication, do my shopping etc)

  • Connection with others- a feeling of being missed, cared about, mattering to others

(I had people who called me every day to check how I was and keep me company so that I didn’t feel alone whilst I was self-isolating)

  • Positive distractions- providing something good to occupy your thoughts so that you don’t become consumed with your own difficulties, anxiety and distress

(When I was feeling well enough, I had video calls with friends/family, played games online with friends, joined online quizzes, watched movies & TV, even silly video clips which friends sent to cheer me up)

The community efforts in your local area- what’s happening?

The community response during the Covid-19 pandemic has been incredible over the past year. Initially, we heard a lot about it in the news; but as the pandemic has dragged on, there seems to have been less and less of a focus on the community support which is available to people who are struggling. We seem to be hearing less of the good news stories of how people are helping each other and of how neighbourhoods are providing their own responses to the pandemic so that people do not feel alone or isolated.

So if you’re a community-based organisation; a faith group; a neighbourhood group or simply an individual who is offering support to the people in your local community who are alone, self-isolating, recovering from Covid-19, disabled, elderly or experiencing difficulty in any way- please make sure that people know how to find you, and then provide different ways for them to connect with you and others.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Set up a community page on Facebook
  • Advertise in your local free newspaper
  • Let your local Citizens Advice Bureau know about what you offer
  • Put up a poster on community notice boards
  • Get some flyers printed and leave them in GP surgeries, pharmacies etc
  • Organise virtual coffee mornings online
  • Set up a neighbourhood Whatsapp group for your street to stay connected with your neighbours and offer support to anyone who needs it
  • Contact Imagineer for a free ‘Support your Street’ pack

 

Sarah Holmes is a Freelance Consultant working on personalisation within the Health and Social Care sector/community space; and a Director of Imagineer Development UK CIC.

Both Sarah & Liz Leach Murphy are practitioners, trainers and coaches in Independent Support Brokerage and consultancy for Strengths-Based Approaches with collectively over 40 years of experience in the Health and Social care and community sectors.

Imagineer Development UK CIC is a social enterprise based in the North of England with a national reach; originally set up as a test bed for Independent Support Brokerage in the UK. Imagineer is the hosting organisation for the National Brokerage Network, which is a community of practice for Independent Support Brokers. Imagineer provides a range of training & consultancy services in Support Brokerage, Person-Centred and Strengths-Based Approaches.

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