• Debbie Thrower

'Holding realities up to the light'

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Chair of the July 29 webinar, Marion Shoard

Christians on Ageing wanted to explore what self-isolation is really like in the pandemic. Chaired by Marion Shoard, author of How to Handle Later Life (Amaranth Books, 2017), about a dozen of us took part in the webinar. David Jolley, the charity's ('Chair in waiting') reports:

This was an impressive gathering of exceptional people and proved to be a stimulating, informative and humbling experience.

Introductions took us around the UK – from Orkney to Wales, to Kent, parts of London, Yorkshire and elsewhere.

Marion introduced us to the subject area, reflecting that relationships are of variable importance to individuals but without them, things do not work.

The lockdown has required of us since 16 March, as a main plank in the strategy to restrict the spread of Covid-19, to severely restrict the natural networks of relationships, even within families. Simply being aged 70 or over designated you ‘clinically vulnerable’, and you should restrict contact with other people (Self-Isolation).

Older people have been found to be particularly at risk of the infection – nearly 50,000 people in the UK have died with a Covid-19 diagnosis. Eighty percent of these deaths have occurred to people in their 70s or beyond: deaths rates amongst people in their 80s have been three times the rate of people in their 70s. Deaths rates amongst people in their 90s have been nine times that of 70 year olds.

As the rates of infection and death from Covid-19 have fallen, the restrictive rules are being relaxed. People are being encouraged or required to return to work. Services and entertainment are becoming available within guidance. The pressure to return towards normality comes from social and psychological considerations but also from the economy. People, especially older and vulnerable people, are not uniformly confident that a return to activities, even within the guidance, is safe.

Marion reported on her recent visit to a beach, which was busy with younger people and children, but there were no old people. They will be reflecting that, to date, there is no vaccine, no treatment, and other counties report rising rates of infection when they have relaxed discipline. Here the government and NHS publish advice and guidance, but not everyone complies – masks are recommended but not always worn in public places where people are in close proximity.