Who would have thought that in just 3 short months so much around the world has changed and that health and safety would have such an overriding profile!
Whilst always a very important consideration: every work place must continually risk assess to ensure they look after their workforce, customers and more; our modern world is finding that it must adapt rapidly and take a different stance in its collective fight against the current and probable future epidemics and pandemics.
In clinics as in every other work place, modifications must be put in place to preserve health and safety if there is to be any chance of us picking up and continuing with our lives as they were pre-lockdown: ways of life which have developed over many centuries of ‘civilisation’ and social change.
Much investment in health and safety products, hitherto not used in any but the most highly sterile medical and laboratory environments, is now widespread in shops, offices and other workplaces all over the world. Banks and other financial institutions which had spent so much on revamping and removing their glass screen barriers will wish they had kept them in place! Were the glass screens primarily for security or was it because in the UK tuberculosis was not considered to have been eradicated until as recently as the 1980s and indeed since then has been re-emerging steadily since around 2005.
Our economy has shifted within just a few short months from the supply of holidays and hospitality to a growth in the demand for locally manufactured products and locally supplied services to ensure accessibility and to boost health and safety during lockdown and border restrictions. It remains to be seen for how long this balance remains.
Humanitarian efforts have been seen on a mammoth scale and there has been much balancing to be done between economic factors, which in themselves impact health, and health itself. Tough decisions to be made by Governments and other decision-makers, between locking ourselves away and avoiding challenging our personal immune systems (an essential part of maintaining health) on the one hand in order to, on the other hand, aim to save the lives of those who are most vulnerable. The reality of course being that we can never be sure whether that vulnerable person is ourselves or someone we care about. It has been a tough time where belief systems have been challenged and selflessness has been seen in spades and often in unexpected quarters. Where groups of workers have been seen in a very different light, as being absolutely key to obtaining the essentials in life: food, water, heat, light, access to healthcare. Many workers in a variety of settings have had to work in close proximity with people who are ill or who might be ill: knowingly putting themselves at risk in many settings, and in the health sector in particular many making life and death decisions in very stressful conditions. We thank all those for their huge contribution!
Not only that but also this shift has had many unintended, but many would consider to be, beneficial consequences which, when viewed globally or on an individual country basis, can be seen to balance against the negatives this Covid-19 pandemic has caused: social isolation, diminished mental health, growing unemployment. Surely it is very positive that we see what is possible for a different future? A reduction in climate change, a reduction in food miles, an increase in awareness of work-life balance for many, the opportunity to exercise more and sit at a desk less, more walking, more cycling, a chance to contemplate life, its meaning and our priorities? These are the things to focus on when the future looks bleak surely. They will sustain our determination to get through all this and emerge the other side stronger, more adaptable, more resilient!
Here at Time for Me (of Kenilworth) it has been a chance to recharge and refocus and it will mean that some of our practices change at least in the short term. We will be edging cautiously into this new world taking each day as it comes to help keep everyone as safe as we possibly can. We promise not to bore you with talk of banks when we next see you in clinic!
Check out our facebook and Instagram pages for up-to-date news on how we are handling the coronavirus challenges as we start slowly to reopen our services from 1 July 2020 starting with emergency clients and key workers on a limited number of days per week initially.