I have been quiet on here since lockdown. My husband is in the very high risk group, I’m in the medium risk group. I’ve had weeks of anguish. My husband had the letter telling him to stay in for 12 weeks. I spoke to my work about my risk and shielding my husband - no joy. If I chose to go off work it would be unpaid. I work in a care home. I carried on going into work but worried sick in case we got Covid in the home. I tried to get a letter for myself from Rheumatology, no joy as I’m not on the listed immunosuppressant drugs. Had two phone calls with my GP who couldn’t help or have a letter to say I was at risk. I then spoke to my Union who said as a person shielding I should be furloughed but it was works choice. I wrote to my manager and said how worried I was - there was nowhere else I could stay to keep my husband safe. My managers had a meeting on my behalf and put a proposal to me. I could stop taking staff temperatures (up to 100 people every 4 hours - try and stay 2 metres from someone!). I was given a mask daily, gloves, antibacterial wipes for the desk, phone etc and eventually a Perspex screen for the top of my reception desk. I share my circular desk with 2 other staff - again impossible to be 2 metres apart. If I was happy with all that I would remain working, if not they would support me going off unpaid. I chose to stay working as it felt much safer - however I said if we got Covid in the Home, I would remove myself. Then a week last Tuesday I got the dreaded call. We had Covid in the Home. So two weeks ago I removed myself from work, unpaid. I asked if I could take annual leave - which was granted. I had a further chat with both the union and my GP. My GP suggested I speak to my husbands Haematologist and ask for a letter to say I’m shielding. I sent a further email to my manager about my worry about being unpaid and what the GP had said. A further meeting on my behalf took place. I’m delighted and relieved to say that I am now working from home - fully paid, which will be reviewed accordingly. This awful disease has affected everyone in some way. The scary part about the fact it ended up in our Home was that it was staff - 3 at the same time that got it - how??? Does that mean there was a silent carrier? Who knows - it’s indiscriminate. I fully admire all my lovely colleagues that continue to do a brilliant job. We had all the PPE from the outset, and stringent hygiene, cleansing methods put in place (cleanliness was second to none in the first place - our Home is superb). My manager is the best, always supportive and caring. They didn’t have to pay me if I chose to go off work as I don’t fit the criteria for furlough.
I can now work from home without the added stress of worrying about either getting Covid or taking it home. We have online groceries and I haven’t been near a shop since March.
Now to my point - none of the above would have been necessary if I’d retired when I should have been able to, two years ago! I would willingly give my job up for an out of work youngster. I can’t sleep, my all over pain is far worse than it ever was. I’d absolutely love to retire today! So no I definitely haven’t given up on the campaign, and when this all calms down I will be back on the campaign with renewed vigour. I do feel though, that regardless of which party you vote for/is in power, would have had the same horrendous problems to deal with. So many thousands of people have died, so many people will lose their jobs because of Covid. No-one has any control of this world wide Pandemic so it’s not anyone’s fault so I can’t be party to any blame that is levelled at anyone on how it’s been dealt with. No-one would choose to be having to deal with this. It’s a whole separate issue and the country needs to heal a lot more before we resume “normal” service. On a good note - so far the weather has been the kindest of all by being warm and sunny almost the whole time this has been going on. Imagine the wider impact to mental health if it was cold and wet every day!