The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have been felt by everyone, but people who were shielding face additional challenges. Although the policy has been paused many people are still doing so, or have reduced their ‘normal’ activities.
Shielding helped to save lives, but it also had consequences. The Welsh Government and local authorities provided much needed support, but many people have experienced a deterioration in their health and well-being.
People’s access to medical treatment stopped or reduced, and this is still an issue. Many people remain anxious, and are making very long-term decisions based on the risk of catching Coronavirus.
Report identifies a number of actions
The Bevan Foundation explored the impact of shielding and carried out interviews with people who were shielding, and charities who support them. They have identified a number of actions that the Welsh Government could make to help support people.
Some of the key actions call on the Welsh Government to:
- Restore health services.
- Evaluate the impact of delays and cancellations, and determine where additional resources are most needed.
- Improve communication about medical treatment.
- Adopt measures which help people feel safe when attending appointments.
- Continue to make welfare calls to people who have been shielding.
- Produce health and well-being guidance, which includes information about access to support.
- Work with the third sector to ensure they have an active voice in any future advice to shield, and they have resources to provide support and advice.
- Enable people to make informed decisions about their levels of risk through regular, direct communication.
- Promote more awareness about the risks faced by people advised to shield.
- Recognise the role of carers and ensure they have access to a carers’ assessment, and a nationally-recognised ID badge.
The Bevan Foundation says that these proposals would significantly improve the lives of thousands of people advised to shield, and that in light of rising infection rates and local restrictions it is important to recognise and acknowledge the anxieties they face.