Isabel Bonello – What have we learnt?
The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) is launching an exciting new campaign on the lessons learnt from the pandemic in relation to the disability sector. Called ‘X’Tgħallimna mill-Pandemija?’, the campaign gleans the findings and recommendations from a number of reports commissioned by CRPD during or about the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports point out not only how persons with disability were affected by the pandemic itself but perhaps more so by the social and economic impact deriving from restrictive measures put in place to control its spread.
Told through the stories of seven persons with disability, the campaign aims to show that behind every public policy and every public measure, there are persons whose lives can be affected immeasurably, and how persons with a disability cannot be excluded or forgotten, when public decisions are taken.
FINDING: For persons with disability who did not live with their families, the separation could be heart-breaking.
RECOMMENDATION: Issue directives specifically dealing with disability issues – the issuing of standalone directives regarding disability issues by public health officials will guarantee that disability policies are not ignored.
Provide psychological support for persons with disability and their families.
You can read the following research reports below:
- Access to Formal Education by Persons with Disability During The Covid-19 Pandemic – Research Report
- The Impact of Covid-19 on Persons with Disability – Research Report
During the period between March and April 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Malta and everyone was told to stay indoors and not to mix households, I felt like I was trapped at home. During this period, I was very upset, even though I had my sister to talk to and I could speak to my niece online. But it was not the same as normally I like to go out and socialize.
During this time, I changed and my outlook became more negative. I had some support from work colleagues and I felt better when I could talk to someone.
I did not mind working from home so much as I still felt productive but it was harder to work due to limited space and distractions from my family. I also found online video conferencing meetings very tiring. I prefer face-to-face meetings – also, they are more private since at home it’s difficult to find a space where other family members are not listening. Sometimes it can be a bit uncomfortable.
I was really upset that I could not meet my boyfriend, even though we spoke online after working hours. I felt alone and confused since I did not know when things would return to normal and I would be able to see him again. I also missed going to work and seeing my colleagues. My boyfriend was very supportive and used to tell me that this too shall pass but even he was affected negatively and was upset. Thank God for the vaccine – I was very relieved when it became available.
I do not think that I was the only one – I think the pandemic and the subsequent restrictive measures had a negative impact on many persons with disabilities.
For me, psychological support is important – ideally this should be provided in person since online support is not enough.
I think that directives issued by health authorities should always factor in persons with disabilities and the effect that these will have on our lives.