COVID-19: The Lived Experience of getting through a pandemic

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Jun 16 2020 Blogs

Hello, my name is Suzy Bourke. I am an AQuA Lived Experience Affiliate. My main role is to ensure that lived experience is embedded into the design of quality improvement programmes.

We all have lived experience of COVID-19, irrespective of our ethnicity, gender and sexuality. It is crucial to be aware that each person’s experience is unique, particularly at this time. We all have valuable things to say and it’s important that everyone is given the opportunity to share their stories.

Anxiety, fear and loneliness

I live with my parents who have pre-existing health conditions and are staying indoors. I do the shopping a couple of times a week and collect medicines from the pharmacy. We rely on the local supermarket because we had difficulties ordering groceries online and I do not have a car. Going shopping is a stressful time, having to make sure you don’t bump into anyone and being constantly on guard, whilst making sure you are socially distant. My worse fear is that I catch the virus and pass it on to my parents.

I am very lucky to have my parents, who I can talk to when I am feeling anxious, but unfortunately there are many people who feel lonely and isolated. According to the Office for National Statistics, in the UK there are 2.4 million people feeling lonely. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, this figure may have risen. Whilst older people can be particularly affected by feeling lonely, it can and does affect people of all ages. Also, people who are currently shielding are at risk of becoming more isolated. It is important to note, that you don’t have to be on your own to feel lonely, particularly if there are tensions within the family dynamic. While technology can help people feel connected, many people do not have access to smartphones or computers, and this can lead to feeling more isolated. These are very worrying times for people, who have lost their jobs, income and who are struggling to put food on the table There is also the fear they will lose their homes and becoming homeless is a real concern.

Sharing our Lived Experience

Lived experience can help to shape services in a number of ways, firstly, stories can provide valuable input into finding solutions to problems, they can be used to find out what the real issues are and help in identifying where support needs to be placed. COVID-19 has had an impact on all of us, so it’s important that everyone is given the opportunity to share their stories. Also, it’s crucial that Health and Social care services think about how to capture the stories in a sensitive and creative way. Technology can be a useful way of gathering stories; however, not everyone has access to computers and smartphones. It’s important that there are approaches which are open to all. For example, Wigan Borough Council have produced an archive inviting people to share their stories of COVID-19 through diaries, poems, scrapbook and drawings. Whilst it’s essential to capture the challenges we are facing, there may be some uplifting moments, such as seeing your family through a pane of glass, clapping for our NHS on a Thursday evening or taking part in a virtual Mr Motivator keep fit class!


KX Learning Labs

Our weekly series of webinars will cover a range of topics and have been developed to support you during COVID-19 and beyond. These short sessions will run at 4pm every Tuesday for 45 minutes and will be split into 4 series. The webinars are free and open to anyone working in health and care.

If you would like to join us for this session and/or future sessions, please register here:

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