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How to manage University halls with 24/7 personal care during covid?

forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 319 Pioneering
edited September 2 in Education and learning
My physically disabled son with CP is going into his 3rd year at Uni and has an adapted room in a shared uni flat with a carer room next door.  He has a support package, agency care, DSA etc and the Uni is pretty good re access and adaptations for his course.  But what we are really struggling to get our heads round is how on earth can this work in the current climate?
His flat is for 9 ...so if one of them has to self isolate they all have to.  If one of his support team have to self isolate, surely then he does too?  How on earth do they keep the shared kitchen area properly clean?  I know the agency will have put some extra training in place round covid hygeine but the reality is that some of the support workers are very young and not exactly that well house trained to start with! (great as support workers for a young man though, in "normal" times)
He needs help with all personal and self care so its a very hands on job...so does that mean he will be all the time with masked, be-gloved and aproned support staff?  He is exempt from wearing a mask at it would be soaked with drool in no time; but how many other students etc will actually understand that or make allowances for it? 
And one of the biggest things is that there is a very good chance that he will become virtually a prisoner in his own room (whereas here at home he can go out  and about a bit on his own in power chair) as almost all lectures will be remote and they will be trying to keep students from going out and about as much as possible.  And if he feels vulnerable due to his mask situation or coughing and spluttering when he eats/is fed he will not want to go out anywhere.
There is also a real chance that he will get next to no excercise as I really don;t know how they will be able to operate the gym safely but he can;t just go for a jog or play a socially distanced game of tennis or whatever, as other students can.
But he is so keen to get back to the city; which I really understand, as he has been stuck here at home with his middle aged parents since mid March with almost no other helpers...
Not really looking for answers but feel that this group of students is another completely overlooked cohort and whilst we are in discussion with the uni disability team (who are very good) about some of this...so much is a complete unknown...  There has been lots of discussions around SEND children going back to school/college(or not) but I have seen almost nothing about HE students, many of whom will be moving away from home.

Replies

  • janer1967janer1967 Community champion Posts: 4,701 Disability Gamechanger
    @forgoodnesssake You bring up some very valid points and I dont have any answers for you but it does give food for thought.

    I know your son wants to get back to the city but in light of the circumstances could he do this year remotely from home or does he need to attend uni. Maybe take a year out I now this isnt ideal.

    Just hoping between you all you can sort out a suitable workaround but fully agree this will have been overlooked no doubt in the guidelines for the uni for students returning
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 541 Pioneering
    As you will know, both lecturers and students have said physical attendance is to be viewed as a thing of the past, except  for some segments of certain courses which require access to university laboratories,  for instance.  They say neither staff nor students are safe. What can be done by online tuition must be done that way. They sensibly point out that the campuses will be "the next care homes", and, worse,  will be an infection centre to spread virus all over the country, as students travel back and forth.
    It sounds as if this will be ideal as an equal opportunity study chance for t.a.b.s (temporarily able bodied) and disabled students.   For once, instead of losing out or struggling, your son will have the luxury of learning on equal terms with his peers.
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 1,428 Disability Gamechanger
    Following the news over the last couple of days it seem very uncertain as to what will happen when unis are supposed to return at the end of Sept. A million students would normally be on the move and surely this can't be allowed to happen as the number of new cases seems to be over 1100 everyday?
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Administrator Posts: 1,435 Pioneering
    Hi @forgoodnesssake

    You've raised some really important points about the return of disabled students back to university and like @Janer1967 I'm a bit stuck for answers.

    I'm pleased to see that the Disability Services department at his university have been involved and helpful but I really get where your concerns are coming from.  This feels like an issue that has gotten little coverage at all in the news or on social media.

    Please let us know how your son gets on.  
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  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,652 Scope community team
    Hi @forgoodnesssake, I imagine this has been such a big worry! Is your son's care provided by the local authority? 

    Here is some Government guidance about carers and personal assistants, I hope this is able to clarify some of your concerns. 
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  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 319 Pioneering
    Hi, thanks yes I've seen this...it's more the practical side of contingencies etc if support staff have to self isolate and the team is then short, etc etc
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,652 Scope community team
    Yes I can see how this could get really complicated. Is your local authority able to put you in touch with an on call agency which could be used in an emergency? Or you could try and hire someone on zero hours who would act as bank staff and be on call if needed?

    I appreciate it is not ideal though!
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  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 319 Pioneering
    The agency involved say that they can cover...but I can see that another source of emergency cover would be good.  However the issue is really more about the training needs; someone can't just parachute in to help an AAC user who cannot feed themselves and has significant dysphagia isses etc...and its the pre training that we really don;t know how it can be done in the current climate cos in the past we have done refresher sessions and the agency have used shadowing ...but that is just not really an option especially now with the "rule of 6"...
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,652 Scope community team
    Such a difficult situation! 

    It might be worth contacting Cosmopolitan Care. They are a new company, but specialise in PA's and carers for university students. They might have had others experience a similar thing.
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  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 319 Pioneering
    Just had a look ...(they don;t come up very readily when you google the name!)  they are basically a broker, not an agency, so a bit like Askjules and another one I can't remember the name of.  There;s also no geographical info so dont know what areas they cover.  These things can be good but you are still left with basically being the employer and so if you have a staff issue unless you have already got a few trained "spares" waiting in the wings then you are no better off...but I hadn;t hear of them so thanks, could be useful at some point

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 10,652 Scope community team
    Sorry it wasn't more helpful @forgoodnesssake, how are things going?
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