I firmly believe that if nothing else comes out of this disruptive time, it will be an enhanced awareness of each other and the often invisible world of care. It is an awareness that, while we go about our everyday, rather self-centred stuff, there is a kind of ‘parallel universe of caring’ where people look at the person they care for in the eye and tell them, with total self-sacrifice, that they are going to help them have a healthier, happier day today even if it means they risk their own health and happiness.
At everyLIFE I’m closer to the care industry than most but I am very aware that I am still a million miles away from the front line of care, COVID-19 or no COVID-19. I know what it’s like to talk to my elderly neighbours (from a safe distance, of course) about what’s on TV and what day the bins are emptied, and I go and buy them stuff from the supermarket to keep them protected. However, I really struggle to relate to the emotions of the millions of care professionals across the country who get up every day (and night), catch a bus to someone’s house, put on protective equipment at the front door, and set about their daily routine of making sure that someone else is feeling safe and secure enough to have a really decent day indoors for another 24 hours.
But now there is a new generation of young people, like my two teenage sons, who, had it not been for the COVID-19 crisis, would probably have drifted through life and career feeling entitled to people’s care and attention when things get tough – and remained totally unquestioning about the branded home care car that pulls up outside our neighbours’ house twice a day.
On the surface, my sons appear to care rather much more about FIFA 2020 much more than the everyday headlines of mortality rates. But the Thursday night ritual (what will happen when this ends this week?) of hitting a pan with a wooden spoon in appreciation of people they’ll never meet, has, I’m starting to believe, pricked my sons’ curiosity about the hidden world of healthcare and maybe just altered the mindset of their generation for the better for ever.
So I can confidently say, and without a shred of sentimentality, one of the things I’ve learnt from lockdown is really just an observation; care and care workers, and even the people they care for at home and in care homes, are finally on everyone’s radar and an appreciation of their lives and work will stick with me and my family for life.
Rob Swift, everyLIFE