I do not know about you I am increasingly wondering whether post covid-19 locked down that there is a sense of defacto do nothing by various public sector organisations and some big retail service providers. This began during locked down when hearing countless stories about people with learning difficulties having no face to face support that would enable them to create new routines, learn how to use various social media platforms with the aim of remaining connected with family, friends and colleagues amongst other useful activities. Many of these activities could have been done at a social distance of two metres, in an outdoor area or both parties agreeing to wear masks / face coverings. But instead of thinking creatively there was just cannot do mentality. Similar attitudes prevail in other areas of our public service such as in the provision of speech, occupational and physiotherapy for example. A disabled senior citizen who needed physio had just a brief physio telephone consultation followed up with picture guides of recommended exercises to be done at home. Similarly, I have lost count of the number of various assessments such as those for education, health and care plans that I am hearing about are not being carried out because no one is conducting face-to-face meetings. Even if you do not need face to face appointments, there appears to be an increasingly attitude by organisations that their staff no longer are required to reply to emails, resolve complaints most of them are usually done via phone or email contact anyway. I waited over 5 months after several emails for a reply from a well-known company about a home appliance brought before locked down.
Of course we still need to be careful now that the infection rate is on the raise again. However, there are still plenty of ways which public and customer services can still continue. For instance, speech, occupational and physiotherapy services can still be offered via a virtual platform. Whilst this may not completely replace face to face contact appointments, nevertheless therapists can still undertake their important role, either by providing audio instruction or demonstrating how to perform specific exercises.
I have just enrolled onto a level 2 functional literacy course. Despite completing an enrolment form a few months ago, I was told just 2 weeks before the course is supposed to begin to complete the whole form again, to upload the usual personal identification documents and exam certificates and alike. As usual I struggle and got a little stressed out, given its just a few weeks before the course. No one picks up the phone, emails are left not replied and forget it if one wants to talk to tutor and learning support staff about disability access requirements will be met – still today I do not know when I will start the course because no one is in to pick up the phone or replied to my email. It really made me think what on earth have the college staff been doing over the summer – surely getting their online system working well, time tables organised, staff available to speak to none of that – why? It’s a London Wide education institution with a steady income from students undertaking different types of courses?
I went into a big company to purchase clothing items. The queue was very long and no one was apparently available to help find a specific brand of clothing item that I knew would fit me like a glove. Looking at the big open space on the shop floor, there was no reason why a couple of staff could not be employed to help customers out – the shop floor itself could had allowed staff to physically distance 20 metres apart never mind the mere 2 metres minimum requirement set by Government’s covid-19 social distancing guidance.
It is quite clear that public sector and some big retail organisations are using covid-19 policy to avoid important services to be offered properly. We are all paying for many staff to be funded via the Government’s furlough scheme to stay at home where clearly there is plenty of work that can be performed safely. If the Government wants us to go to the city, then the staffs needs to be available to help customers. Why would anyone want to travel into the city, only to find themselves in long queues in retail, travel and other forms of outlets where in-personal customer service is none existence? Similarly, if the Government wants us to be healthy so that we can avoid the deadly covid-19 outcomes then surely getting all health services including physiotherapy up and running must be an essential.
Since locked down, many staff and indeed customers have had no contact with each other for coming on six months; I wonder whether face-to-face encounters are no longer the norm.For many disabled people where internet is no substitute for face-to-face meetings will as usual fare much worse than their non-disabled peers in the new normal post covid-19 paramedic