Since the first case of coronavirus virus was reported in Wales, families of children and young people with life-limiting illnesses have been on red alert. This includes many of the team of Dads, Uncles and Brothers taking on the 10nTaff challenge for Tŷ Hafan. Indeed, the #10nTaff challenge has been postponed by a year because of concerns about the coronavirus.
The list of illnesses where the risk is high includes lung and heart conditions, cystic fibrosis, and cancer to name but a few. Although, in reality, this deadly virus is striking people of all ages and those without any health problems at all.
The children of many of the families supported by Tŷ Hafan often have complex conditions needing constant and often 24-hour care. However, there had been very little reporting on this group of people in the media, with television, newspaper and even the government focusing on threat to the elderly.
For protection, many families have stopped having respite and have already decided to go into their own ‘lock-down’ or quarantine well before any government instruction. This means that only one parent leaves the house whilst the other takes on the full responsibility of care. It also means that the number of people entering the house is restricted, resulting in significantly less support or none at all. It also means that the child or young person at risk and their main carer can no longer leave the home. Contact with the outside world is limited to technology.
The heightened anxiety is almost unbearable. For Tŷ Hafan families and any family with a child or young person with a life-limiting illness, every day already involves hours of loving care, often shared. Now those same families are living on their nerves, wondering if the coronavirus will somehow invade their home.
When outside the home, at work or shopping, avoiding infection is the number one priority. Parents are constantly washing and cleansing hands, avoiding close contact with other people, and watching out for any sign of a cough.
To reduce the chance of spreading the virus, the parent who leaves the home is now sleeping in a separate room where that is possible. That parent is also barred from having any close contact with his son or daughter, no longer being able to be involved in bath time or the preparation of meals. They cannot even give their child a loving cuddle. Or their partner. And this is predicted to go on for many months.
In amongst this chaos, the Dads, Uncles and Brothers taking on the 10nTaff challenge have to somehow continue training. Training is now improvised in the garden or using the main stairs in the house. Any outside training is limited to one hour, alone and in areas devoid of people. The training would simply not be possible without the support of their partners, but exercise helps mentally in these incredibly stressful times.
The future looks very uncertain. Experts estimate that, in a worse case scenario, 80% of the population could contract the virus. Our challenge is to ensure that our children and young people stay safe.
And please heed the government’s advice – #StayHomeSaveLives. Every citizen has a morale duty to help the amazing NHS, those more vulnerable than them, and society as a whole.
For any further information, please contact Dad and #10nTaff participant Paul Fears on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07909103789.
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