When I saw this article highlighting the difficulties faced by people with hearing difficulties during the live Covid-19 briefings from Number 10 (as there was no interpreter present during the broadcasts), it reminded me of similar issues experienced by our Court of Protection clients. These clients have brain injuries and have also struggled to disseminate the information released by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic. They too have found it difficult keep up with the daily briefings as the subtitles or audio descriptions are too quick for them to take in and process the information.
To compensate for this, I have made regular phone calls to check in with my clients and to ensure that they have understood and are abiding by the relevant guidelines.
The most difficult thing during the pandemic has been to explain to clients with brain injuries that they are unable to socialise with friends, and sometimes even family, during periods of lockdown. The imposed isolation and disruption to their normal routine (attending clubs, socialising and seeing families - a lifeline for many) has sometimes led to an increase in difficult behaviour. It has been particularly hard where rules changed quickly and without warning as far as they were concerned, given their inability to process the daily briefings. Where possible I have set up Whatsapp groups for friends to ensure that they can keep in contact or have arranged Zoom calls so that they can see and speak to friends and family.
To enable my clients to self-isolate I have also arranged for shopping to be delivered on a weekly/monthly basis, as well as calling them to provide reassurance that they are not alone.
There has been an increase in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety during the pandemic. Clients have found it reassuring to hear from members of their support teams that they too were having to isolate and shared their feelings of loss in not being able to see friends and family. In some cases, members of support teams have isolated with their clients to ensure that they have the support required, highlighting the level of commitment that support workers deploy.
Hopefully this case will highlight the work that still needs to be done to assist those more vulnerable people in our society and who need support to disseminate information, not just in the case of the Covid-19 broadcasts, but in the delivery of the news in general.
government breached its obligations under the Equality Act to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people.