Neil, a man with a learning disability and multiple long-term health conditions, tells us of his experience of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and what he thinks needs to change to make things better for people with learning disabilities.
My name is Neil, I am a man living in Scotland. I have learning disability, dyslexia, type 2 diabetes, and asthma. I live alone. Early on in the Coronavirus emergency I was told by my GP that I was to stay indoors for 12 weeks. That made me feel very annoyed and anxious about how serious the virus is. I didn’t understand what it all meant. I don’t know what words like pandemic mean.
“I didn’t understand what it all meant. I don’t know what words like pandemic mean.”
I have been getting confused about the different information. There has been too many different bits of advice and I didn’t know what to believe. A friend told me I could go outside and that confused me. Then my GP told me to stay indoors for 12 weeks and because of all the different information I was getting, I had been going out to the shops. At times, the police stopped me and told me to go home. This was all very confusing.
The first three weeks were very hard to deal with, because I have been so used to going out and it had been driving me round the twist! I am normally very independent. I have also been really missing seeing my fiancé.
Week four and week five have been hard but not as difficult as it was in the first few weeks. I was told about a phone number I could call to get food deliveries. This has been helpful because I now don’t need to go to the shops. Also, I have family members who help me by picking up my medication for me.
Based on my experience of self-isolation during the Coronavirus emergency, I think some things need to be done to improve things for people with learning disabilities living alone. I think we need to be given information that is easy to understand and we need to make sure that people with a learning disability have help they can rely on, if they don’t have family and friends who can help them.
“I think [people with learning disabilities] need to be given information that is easy to understand and we need to make sure that people with a learning disability have help they can rely on…”
I think that we also need to give people with learning disabilities phone numbers for foodbanks and local social work for support. This will be helpful to people who can’t go out to the shops, and who may be living alone and feeling isolated.
I think we also need to make sure that people with learning disabilities have got something to help people feel happy if they are stuck inside for 12 or more weeks. Just a friendly phone call or social work phoning asking if they can help, and putting you in touch with a charity or organisation who would do your messages (shopping) for you would be great.
I think we need to make sure that people with learning disabilities have access to someone who keeps in contact with them on a regular basis. This should be done by someone they know. Once the emergency is over, the organisations that helped people with learning disabilities should stay in contact with the person.
I am looking forward to having a party and seeing all my friends once this is over.
I hope everyone is staying safe during this difficult time.