A Quiet Life in level 4 Lockdown

We live in Rotorua, a popular tourist destination, and have two adult daughters with Down Syndrome.

Maureen (30 years old) flats nearby with another young woman with an intellectual disability and Krystal (25) lives at home with us, her parents.  Between them they have seven support workers.  Prior to lockdown, my daughters were very involved with Special Olympics, taking part weekly in up to five sports each.  They also attended weekly dance lessons and most days spent some time in their respective support workers’ homes.  Krystal also attended weekly swimming lessons, visited the library, enjoyed shopping and usually had one night away from home.  Maureen volunteered once a week at a rest-home folding laundry and also did her own grocery shopping with assistance, used buses and liked going to the hairdresser.  We also attended church once a week where Maureen was an altar server at Mass.

Over the course of the ten days prior to lockdown, thanks to the increasing restrictions about to be imposed by the government, our lives changed dramatically.  Special Olympics stopped as did many of the activities the girls attended including church, classes, and of course visits to the rest home.  For various reasons, five of our seven support workers went into isolation, leaving Krystal with no support workers and Maureen with two who increased their hours of work.  Maureen’s flatmate used to attend a day service but was now home all day.  She has 24 hours support so had six support workers altogether.

Life in Level 4 Lockdown was quiet.  We included Maureen in our “bubble” so she could visit us for hugs and so I could provide her with meals on Sunday.  Maureen normally has time during the day on her own but now had her flatmate and one or two support workers at her home much of the time.  Krystal just had us, her parents.  She watched DVDs, listened to music, helped with household chores, went on daily walks around our neighbourhood or in nearby parks and played games.  We attended Sunday Mass online but held our annual family Easter Egg Hunt at home as usual.

After about five weeks, restrictions were eased and we moved to Level 3.  On a practical level, the main difference was that one of Krystal’s staff members came back to work but everything else we used to do was still closed.  After three weeks we moved to Level 2 and three more support workers have started working again; the last one has decided to wait until Special Olympics starts again.  We can now go shopping and dance classes have re-started but not church.  Maureen’s flatmate can’t go back to her day service yet but has sessions online.  Special Olympics has not restarted yet so the girls miss taking part and interacting with their friends.

We have finally visited our other daughter who lives in another city, and Krystal who likes playgrounds was finally able to play in one again.  Maureen and Krystal haven’t been watching the news as I don’t want them living in fear, so the changes have probably been largely incomprehensible to them.

I really hope life returns to normal soon.

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