As we watch the world go into ‘lock down’ my mind is racing thinking of all the possible consequences and implications for those that are vulnerable. Whether it’s our young children or the elderly in care homes with restricted visitation from loved ones. What about those in domestic abuse situations being asked to remain confined to their homes or the children that are at risk of suffering harm? What will happen to the interventions that are in the process of being put in place to keep them safe? My mind is wandering from talking to children about how they may be worried when hearing about coronavirus, to having family abroad and how our own parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents are going to manage on a daily basis if in self isolation.

Safeguarding awareness of our vulnerable groups has never been more important in the following months, as well as looking after staff, volunteers and wider community. It should be obvious by now that we need to implement robust washing of our hands, commit to social distancing and self isolation. In terms of those that need medication,  have mental health issues, who are locked in damaging relationships, have children missing from home, or for those that are homeless, living in poverty or those that simply do not have residence for such strange times.

I think the list is endless and we are unsure of the long term impact in those that are well and those that are vulnerable.

As we watch and live with the world though this epidemic it will open the door for further financial abuse of the elderly and increased emotional stressful situations. It will heighten the risks for children and young people in care or in need of protection; or the elderly who cannot access basics at the supermarket.

I cry; I keep calm; I worry; I wonder how I can support those in need; I try and be kind whenever possible… I am sure you are the same. Will our charity, business, organisation survive? How do we change our services to outreach services? How do we protect our staff? What are the daily implications to just ‘care’; to keep people ‘safe’; to find the words that need to be found…?

There’s a lot of news and social media coverage about the epidemic and it can be overwhelming for practitioners, for parents and worrying to children. It is encouraged that you and others who work closely with children to filter information and talk about it in a way that their child can understand.

  • Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Give them control. It’s also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines.
  • Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children and young people, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumours they may hear.
  • Be a good role model. The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. It started in Wuhan, China, but that doesn’t mean that having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – makes someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Stigma and discrimination hurt everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. We should show kindness, empathy and support to those who are ill.

Some of the above is the same when meeting with clients and when in touch with elder people. If someone’s been advised to self-isolate, if they are worried about going out or they prefer to stay in as a precaution, there are still plenty of things you can do to help.

  • Stay in touch over the phone, by post, or online by video calling
  • See if people need any shopping or help by running some errands ( you may need to leave food at the door if they are unwell)
  • Encourage people to stay active around the house and keep moving

It is a time for keeping people safe which that means making sure they have contact with others and just simply being there. I do not have the answers, but as we all try to work through this unknown, child abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults does not go away. I wish it did, but please protect the elderly, the ill or those living in poverty from further abuse and suffering whenever and however we can.