Covid-19 has swept through the world bringing a pandemic of death, devastation, and grief. Economies shut down. Billions have been spent by governments on PPE and financial supports. Frontline workers are being hailed as heroes.
In the last 11 days in Ireland we've returned to the 'new normal'; shops, hospitality, creches, hairdressers, and beauty salons reopened. Private health services also returned to normal.
What did the coronavirus show us? It showed us the vulnerability of the elderly and people with underlying health problems. Very few young people died of Covid-19.
It also showed up discrepancies. Hiqa published a report using data from RIP.ie which show that between March 11 and June 16, 1,709 people were reported as having died of the coronavirus when, in reality, the numbers were far less. Workers were paid 'the Covid payment' while staying at home while frontline staff worked tirelessly for no extra pay.
What did it teach us?
Now the emphasis is on childcare, reopening creches, and schools. The elderly and the frontline worker are already forgotten. There is no discussion around improved conditions for caring for the elderly. There are no rounds of applause for the now tired frontline workers.
One would think that this pandemic would have opened our eyes to the real values of life, This was a perfect opportunity to reflect on the health services and in particular the plight of the elderly and vulnerable in our society.
Today I call on Micheál Martin and his new government to:
- Put the elderly and people with disabilities at the top of their agenda.
- Give a tax-free bonus to every frontline worker who worked with Priority 1 and Priority 2 elderly, sick, or vulnerable person during the three months of the lockdown.
Covid-19 came and went with little or no change. What will it take to wake us up to the true meaning of life?
Owner and Care Manager