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Coronavirus: Sally – “I am an NHS worker. I can’t provide care for my disabled brother because of the risk of passing on coronavirus”

I am a sibling of a man with learning disabilities. I’m also a single mum and an NHS worker. My brother moved in with my dad as an emergency placement in December due to abuse from his carers in his supported housing. It got to a point where my brother was so scared of the risk, he had to leave the house immediately. Since then he has been moving between family houses – my mum’s, my dad’s and mine.

There has been no care provided for my brother

In February, we requested that some care was still provided as my brother is now scared of carers and my dad is 72. My dad was spending all his days driving my brother to his different activities to keep his routine going. This was the reason he was coming to all of our houses to allow my dad respite. Since lockdown he has been stuck at my dad’s.

I can’t help due to my job and the risk of passing on Covid. He has lost everything, literally. The government told him to stay home, so he won’t leave the house. The social worker calls him every now and then but there has been no care provided, no suggestions of anywhere he can move to. He wants to live in a flat alone with the support he requires. He didn’t realise he was going to be stuck with his dad for 6 months plus. What 43 year old wants to live with their dad?

He has challenging behaviour, mostly self-neglect, and that puts a huge strain on the relationship with my dad. In terms of mental health, it’s impacting on both of them. There has been one call from the community team to complete a tick box risk assessment. They called him once and told him he could go out for a walk. He still won’t go out and they didn’t follow up on this at all.

I feel very guilty that I can't care for my brother

As a sibling I’ve found this really hard. I feel very guilty that due to my job I can’t help him. My dad has all the strain with no carers or respite. I try my best to video call but it’s not the same as being there and helping with tensions. I’m going around today for the first time to have a cup of tea in the garden (I couldn’t do this before because my son finds it really upsetting to keep a distance and now he is at school I can finally go).

I do, however, think we are lucky. If he had been in supported living we wouldn’t have been able to see him at all and he would have really struggled. I see the carers in his house all masked up. It would have been scary for him.

However, the lack of social care support and this limbo we have all been in, because he can’t move, has been really hard. Services always overestimate him and 6 months on we still don’t have a care plan for him. We are waiting for the fight to get him the care he needs, so we have this worry hanging over us all the time.

I also really just want to give him a hug. I want to remind him that his family loves and supports him (the carers repeatedly told him we didn’t). This situation really isn’t helping us with improving his mental health after the abuse. I really worry about his mobility, his mental health and the fact he will have forgotten bus routes etc when he gets out again. He will be much less independent because of lockdown and that will really be upsetting for him because independence is the most important thing for him.

All names have been changed.

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