We desperately need support to continue when shielding is paused

Carol has emphysema, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She’s been shielding since March. In this blog, she discusses how she feels about shielding coming to an end, and the support she wants to see continue.

I’ve been shielding since March with my husband. I’m a carer for him and have borderline very severe emphysema. Living with a long-term lung condition, I am used to periods of self-isolation, but this has been extreme. For most people lockdown is coming to an end. Shielding is supposed to be paused in August, but the reality is for many of us, it will continue on out of necessity.

Shielding being paused makes me feel less safe.

After months confined to our homes, I know from previous experience my immune system will be compromised. Before COVID, the risk of infection from colds and flu was already high. Our time indoors won’t have made it any easier.

I try to counter my risk of infection by keeping active and healthy eating, as well as looking after my general wellbeing. But my everyday life has changed completely, making returning to a somewhat normal world feels impossible.

We’ve been told many benefits will continue even when shielding is paused, but I think a lot of support has been lost. For example, many support groups have been paused due to the virus and a lot of public transport isn’t running at full capacity, making everyday activities hard when shielding ends. Lifting government support for the shielded with no de-conditioning is truly terrifying for me.

I’m thankful for the support the BLF has offered throughout this virus. From their health information to the helpline, it’s a real comfort to know a listening ear is there. Also being part of their HealthUnlocked forum lets me chat to someone whose perhaps in similar circumstances.

Everyday activities are a struggle

Where I live it often feels like we’re forgotten. Unless you’re over 70 it’s been really hard to get any government support. It has felt as if none of the usual community support networks have been available. Throughout lockdown I’ve struggled to get fresh food each week, with supermarket slots filling up and some items being out of stock. The minimum spend for online shopping often causes a problem, if you aren’t looking to buy (or can’t afford to buy) too much. This made me reliant on the government hampers as the only permanent access to food and essentials.

Another issue is that I don’t drive and public transport is too infrequent. Even if I did try to use public transport, the nearest supermarket is 2 bus rides away, so it would be quite a long and tiring journey. I’m currently finding very it hard to walk without feeling breathless and was waiting to join a pulmonary rehab course pre-COVID. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do this in person. And my husband isn’t able to shop for us either.

In my opinion, I have no option but to continue to shield while the virus is still here. To do otherwise is to put myself in danger of a potentially serious flare-up, at the very least. But without proper support from the government or local services, I feel I am on my own.


Comments

i have been shielding from march and im expected to go back to work i have copd and a few other illnesses i work in a care home and do 12 hour shifts i have been put on the sick for 4 weeks as work wont furlough till oct so on the sick due to stress and anxiety
Hi Carol i to have got sever Emphysema but lucky enough to have my hubby who is disabled himself to help me, I dont know how on earth you manage to look after your hubby, Get in touch with your local councillor and tell them your situation and that you need help .even a person to do your shopping would be a help
I quite agree with Carols remarks that coming out of shielding is looking quite scary. Having been in Lockdown since February due to Severe Asthma the thought of coming out of shielding is putting ourselves far more at risk now than at the beginning of Lockdown as there are far more people out there not following Govetnment guidelines, so why would we put ourselves at more risk by going out and undoing all we have sacrificed over the last months.  I have found this site and its updates and information extremely helpful.
I have Copd and have been shielding Since March, I am a domiciliary carer, I am worried about going back to work as I have to have close contact with people.
I am 86 with COPD and wish to keep shielding. Much help for us is also stopping.
I am worried as i have copd and i am over 70 and i have got to go back to work next week and i am very worried about it
I feel exactly the same i wasnt very good be 4 covid so nearly 6 months on i am going to zstay shielfing because covid still out there i am very severe emphysema and have a DNR so do not eant to go out hubby is the same ill ess but no dnr. I have very good support children doctors consultants all ring me up checkong me send nuse if realky desperate.and no visit to hosp phone calls instead..and reading blf is good.emails letters etc.i can only donate £4 monthly but its something
As a chronic asthmatic I am extremely anxious to stop shielding. Its feels so unfair to expect us all to just click back into a world we have not been part of for so long. I am panicking at the thought of having to be near other people at work and in my community. I feel isolated and unable to cope and unsure where to go for advise. I am scared to even book an appointment with my doctor.
Hi Carol. I too have Emphysema and had a devil of a job getting Supermarket food. In the end I contacted MP and GP to get NHS England letter! Get something from GP and get on Supermarket list. Take one step at time but start living again safely. Do get haircut, walk outdoors. Mask if you want, endless hand washing and clothes. See relatives or up to 3 friends in outdoor Cafe. Best of luck. Have courage, keep safe yet start enjoying life.

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21 July 2020