COVID-19 has been a traumatic, worrying time for many. We have had to deal with the pandemic by working against our instinct to group together in times of crisis. Everyone has had to socially distance and for months, many people especially those that had to cocoon had to deal with the reality of living alone with no visitors.
Staying in, missing out
The value of belonging to a rich social community network has come into focus. The clubs, committees, churches, cliches we all belonged to were put aside and with that came a drop in our quality of life.
In lockdown, I watched a film, Marvellous (have a look on YouTube), the story of a man, Neil Baldwin (a man labelled disabled) who through the various relationships he strikes up, builds himself a large circle of support to live the life he wants to live (his circle includes everyone from Gary Lineker to the Archbishop of Canterbury). And one of the striking themes of the movie is that without the kindness of strangers, Neil would be a long way from living his dream. The one phase in the film where he loses his mum and job in a few days, withdraws from society and lets the other people drift out of his life, is the one moment when Neil is moving away from his dream of living the life he wants to live.
But overall, Neil through other people's community spirit, he gets the supports he requires and he lives his self determined life. Neil benefits and the people who support Neil clearly benefit as well.
When we look around at the services for people with disability in Ireland, how do services try to capture this essential resource, community spirit; or put another way, how do services support the people they support to capture this community spirit and build their own circles of support? And how do services try to deal with the loneliness of the service users? How much of the day to day bureaucracy and activities are focussed on dealing with what David Pityonak says is the key issue in services; the people who are in services are lonely, very lonely? How do the regulatory authorities and key agencies deliver and measure this outcome? In planning increased monitoring through cameras or ‘secret shoppers’ will these monitors just be observing lonely people living lonely lives?
So after lockdown maybe make a resolution that focuses on adding to the community. See if you can support someone live their self determined life.
Read more on the Module Supporting Individualised Living and Alternative Services. This module can be studied through our Level 8 BA (Hons) Contemporary Disability Studies - advanced social care practitioner skills or the stand alone Certificate in Supporting Individualised Living and Alternative Services.
Contact Conor at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.