Whilst many of us look forward to a summer with fewer lockdown restrictions, anxiety about coronavirus still impacts the lives of veterans and their families. One in five veterans and serving personnel have avoided seeking medical help because of anxiety about the disease. And with our recovery centres closed, now, more than ever, it’s crucial our veterans and their families receive the support they need, when they need it.
Here, Phil Hall, a complex clinical case manager, explains the issues our very seriously injured (VSI) veterans face, and how he and his team are making sure they remain here for them.
“I work with veterans who’ve sustained complex injuries. I help manage their conditions and support access to both the NHS and local services. This means I do a lot of home visits and engage with veterans in our recovery centres.” Explains Phil.
But when lockdown hit, Phil’s home visits were forced to stop. Swiftly moving his appointments to phone and online, an underlying anxiety became apparent…
“Veterans and their families have massive concerns around infection whilst in hospital. What I would say is hospitals are absolutely in control of the situation.”
Lockdown has also restricted community therapy services, leaving many VSI veterans unable to access vital support. Undeterred, Phil and his team made changes to adapt as many services as possible.
“We’ve funded speech and language therapy over conference calls - that’s been very successful. But other services, such as physiotherapy, have had to stop. This is going to have an effect both now and in the future.” Says Phil.
Alongside this, the lack of human contact has proved challenging, for both Phil and those he supports.
“Having difficult conversations with my veterans has been tough. Many have severe brain injuries and struggle to understand lockdown. This has had a dramatic impact on their health and wellbeing.”
Between March and June, Phil and his team have worked 3840 hours, supporting 785 veterans. And despite lockdown measures easing, the team must continue to work with restrictions in mind, to keep these veterans supported and safe.
“The group I work with will be shielding much further into the future. We’re looking at how we can ensure their quality of life is maintained, and, where possible, improved. Explains Phil.
“Covid-19 has deeply affected our veterans. Some effects have been positive – with veterans helping the local community. But some have been negative. The need for support hasn’t gone away. That will continue, now and into the future.”