EngAgeNet Covid-19 Survey
Five hundred and forty people responded to a survey conducted by EngAgeNet in partnership with Legal & General that was circulated nationally in early March. The survey was designed to examine the impact of the pandemic on the lives of older people. This summary presents the main findings of the survey, all of which are presented in graphic format with limited commentary where appropriate. See the survey: https://pailondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/EngAge-Covid-19-Survey.pdf
WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING
Support for guidelines
The government guidelines were originally to Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and save lives. These guidelines have remained remain in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the time being. Pail and its members has always completely agreed with this.
The new guidelines are to Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives, while the lockdown is being eased at different rates across the four countries of the UK. While the new message is less clear and more ambiguous and in some instances contradictory, there is still a clear requirement by the government for everyone to adhere to basic health instructions. These include:
- staying at home unless necessary, working from home if possible, minimising use of public transport,
- always respecting the social distancing 2 metre rule
- washing hands for 20 seconds after going out, engaging with people or handling deliveries etc,
- restricting meeting those outside of your household outside to 6 people in England while socially distancing.
They are also asking those at risk to keep safeguarding themselves. Full advice is contained here.
Risks affecting older people
As older people are more at risk than younger people and have a higher proportion of those that have serious health conditions and who are deemed to be at the highest risk ( and the older we get the higher the proportion of those at risk), we have the most to lose if we either don’t obey these basic common sense rules or the lockdown ends before the UK is in a position to do safely. We support the British Society of Gerontology assessment of the position of older people which challenges any simple policy which differentiates the population by application of an arbitrary chronological age in restricting people’s rights and freedoms. While people of all ages can be vulnerable to COVID-19, and all can spread the disease, not all people over the age of 70 are vulnerable, nor all those under 70 resilient. https://www.britishgerontology.org/publications/bsg-statements-on-covid-19/statement-one
We support the idea that lock down restrictions be gradually reduced and the economy restarted with the necessary condition to promote safety This means that all 5 of the government’s tests will need to have been fully met, with a significant reduction in numbers of new cases, of new hospital Covid 19 admissions and a much lower levels of deaths, with the R rate well below 1. It also means that we have sufficient PPE for front line staff, an up and running Testing, tracking and tracing operation in place. This requires fully trained staff , full back up facilities for rapid and correct testing and reporting back and a fully operational and secure tracking system which protects individual privacy and has working internal communications between national and local bodies.
Older people with health conditions, particularly BAME seniors are still at risk, as the UK still has some of the highest levels of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths in Europe and overall we are currently the second highest country in the world for deaths. While this situation continues
as our Public Health officials and relevant scientists keep telling us, we cannot further ease the current controls until we seriously minimise the level of risk, have guarantees that the NHS, care homes and public health actually have what is needed in place, not just promised and we can reduce the chances of a second deadly wave.
What PAiL has been doing since the crisis started
We have been raising concerns and making recommendations for better responses since March on behalf of our members who have been active in giving us feedback , passing on concerns as well as examples of good practice
We are happy that some of the concerns and recommendations we have raised along with others have been heard . *The GLA and some councils are now sending out printed material which is especially important for those who are digitally excluded for whatever reason. *There has also been a positive response by the BMA among other medical expert groups that age cannot be the sole grounds for keeping people in ongoing isolation, so that health conditions are the basis for shielding.
*The government has now listened to the need for enforced wearing of masks before anyone can access public transport
OUR ONGOING CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Protecting older people and ensuring they are safe
- That the NHS, ONS and government statistics breaks down the figures around health conditions, age, BAME communities in an integrated way so we can understand the science and statistics behind risk projections
- Older people are given more tailored information about their risks
- That BAME communities, especially the seniors are given additional protection and that complete Public Health England report on Covid-19 is fully published and further research undertaken on cause behind variations in COVID by different groups
Communicating effectively with older people
- The digital divide affecting older people is addressed by all public bodies as well as suppliers of services and information for older people.
- Older people are communicated with directly by the Mayor and GLA and all London boroughs using printed material, distributed using existing databases by post or through volunteer networks
- All official government, local authorities, public bodies, suppliers offer working phone lines to give advice and guidance to those excluded from online information
- That local and community radio is used by local government, in partnership with older, disabled and BAME voluntary organisations, to reach, engage with, inform, and listen to those communities most at risk
Recovery planning from the pandemic
- That age is not the basis for exclusion from reopening the economy and society post lockdown, while due consideration is given to those at risk through multiple health conditions or their personal situation
- Recovery Planning follows key principles to protect and meet older people’s needs
- That older people concerns are heard and responded to by the new the London Recovery Board, TFL, GLA, London Councils and NHS London and that there are partnerships set up to realise this in practice
- That part of the post Covid-19 recovery plan includes a commitment to rapidly introduce an Age-Friendly London (including across London boroughs) plan, properly resourced, in partnership with older Londoners representatives
Travelling during the pandemic
- That free passes on TFL are reinstated as soon as possible and that those who are disabled can access the TFL network even if they only have Freedom passes. Under 18s have their passes reinstated so that young people from all socio-economic backgrounds can get to school if they, their parents, and schools agree to do so
- The needs of older people are taken into account in street changes being made to allow more cycling and walking – and the changes are safe to older people following our Street Audit approach
- That due consideration is given to ensuring professionally cleaned, hygienic toilets are made available to all who need them