Caring for the disabled during coronavirus crisis

20th March 2020 Clinical Negligence

This week our country has moved into a new way of living and working with school and nursery closures, workers staying at home and more than 65,000 retired NHS staff being asked to join the fight against coronavirus.

At JMW we are fortunate to have the infrastructure to enable our staff to work from home effectively so that our service to our clients will not be disrupted. As courts now move to remote hearings using video technology we are hopeful that our clients, who have already faced systematic failures in relation to their healthcare, will not suffer lengthy delays to the progression of their case. Everyone in the legal system must adapt quickly to this new situation so that the vulnerable can be protected and compensated.

However although it is business as usual for JMW’s solicitors, and some charities, such as the Child Brain Injury Trust, are offering fantastic virtual support to families, many patients who rely on specialist carers have sadly seen those carers have to go into self-isolation. This is the right thing to do for any carers who work in vulnerable people’s homes. However it does mean that some patients living with severe disabilities do not currently have the recommended amount of care to ensure they have a good quality of life.

I and other brain and spinal injury solicitors in the clinical negligence team at JMW have heard from clients living with cerebral palsy, whose case has been settled or admitted in full, who have temporarily lost live-in carers due to the coronavirus measures. This has led to family members taking on this role, which includes providing care through the night, managing medical equipment and medication and manoeuvring their child in and out of bed and for washing purposes etc. Parents have had to stop working for now to provide this 24-hour care and it has wider implications for the whole family, such as care for other children. These clients are advised to contact the Deputy of their child’s financial award as well as their case manager so that a contingency plan can be put in place to ensure the health and well-being of the whole family.

However we recognise that the situation described above is the difficult daily reality for families coping with severe disabilities who may not currently have any financial assistance. For those families the organisations below should be contacted to see what help they can offer:

 

·         Charity Scope is still running its telephone and online support services https://www.scope.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

·         Your local council – councils have been given £1.6 billion to help with social care during the coronavirus crisis 

·         The Cauda Equina Syndrome Association is offering support by telephone and online

·         The Spinal Injuries Association is also offering support online and by telephone https://www.spinal.co.uk/learn/coronavirus/

Hopefully more support packages will be announced to help people living with disabilities during the coronavirus crisis in coming days. These families are continually in our thoughts and if there is anything JMW can do to support you please do contact us.

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Angharad Hughes is a Partner located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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