Insights

Mark Raeburn: 5.5 minute read

The roadmap out of lockdown is here, but are we ready for the challenges?

The long-awaited announcement finally arrived. Monday evening, the worst kept secret in political history was delivered to the British public. The roadmap that we were all hoping for arrived and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but will it please everyone?

No. The announcement, much like Brexit, will please some and annoy others. Society will never completely agree on the roadmap, but it is here and we all need to work as one to ensure that those who are vulnerable receive the priority they deserve.

Every corner of the United Kingdom has heard the call and now we need to act, to push forward with every intention to meet the deadlines laid down by the Prime Minister.

Health

Every part of society will come into contact with the NHS at least once during their lives. Whether that is directly or indirectly. They have treated thousands over the last year for COVID-19. We have all seen the images and the footage of how stressful this has been for their staff. Burnout is an ongoing concern for all those working for the National Health Service and we all applaud them for their efforts.

The health service will be monitoring the situation closely, hoping and praying that dates are met in order to provide respite for their overworked team. The fear of the day to day will slowly be replaced by fear for the future and so whilst we are one step closer to being ‘free’, make no mistake that the health service is still worried. They will be hoping that the slow easing of restrictions will lead to a more manageable crisis.

Among the documents was modelling done by Imperial College London.

It showed a rapid easing of restrictions could lead to surge in deaths over the summer and a total of 80,000 deaths by the middle of 2022.

There is much uncertainty about scenarios like this - for one thing it did not take into account any seasonal impact that the warmer weather could bring by reducing spread of the virus.

The gradual lifting could, by comparison, reduce that to around 30,000. That would bring it in line with the sort of deaths we could see during a bad flu winter.
Lockdown: Boris Johnson unveils plan, BBC News

The NHS at this time will be planning for the future. They want to ensure that deadlines are met for their staff. They need breaks for their mental health and time to heal, as we all do. To ensure that they are able to do this, speed is of the essence. Rapid testing, diagnosis and discharge are what they will be pushing for.

Social Care

Social Care, much like the NHS will come into contact with the majority of us, either directly or indirectly at one part of our lives. Through the pandemic, they have moved from the unseen sibling of the NHS, to one that is indispensable. They are two sides of the same coin, caring for the nation and doing so under increasingly challenging circumstances.

The end of lockdown will not be the end of the challenge. Vulnerable children, as well as education provision, support for families who are struggling to put food on the table and much more besides, will be brought back to light. These stories will emerge through the return to school and seeing those that have been silent during the lockdown. The indirect effect of the lockdowns will be displayed for all to see and we need to be ready.

“…When children go back to school this must be just the start of a long term recovery plan and new focus on valuing children’s well-being, making this just as important as building the economy. Young people deserve so much more.

“We echo the children’s commissioner’s thoughts that the government must fight for and nurture the optimism and ambition in every child and we are grateful to her for all that she has done speaking up for children and young people.”
Children’s Society Chief Executive Mark Russell via Children and Young People Now

‘Build Back Better’ has been a key government tagline and all those working within Social Care will be paying attention during the slow wind-down of lockdown. As we emerge, we need to see that this is being backed up, as children are the future and we need to place them at the centre of any build back plan. Schemes need to be centred around them, in addition to looking after the wider vulnerable population, to ensure that we all have the support we need.

It will be a challenging process. The next few years will be key for the wellbeing of the nation. Those who are vulnerable such as children need support today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. People working within Social Care will need to get to more people, quicker than before, which will be a primary thought at this time.

The Wider Care Sector

The wider care sector, charities and non-governmental organisations are critical at any time. Today, they will be responsible for filling in the gaps left behind. NHS and Social Care have set remits and limited budgets. The wider care sector will be responsible for caring for those who are unable to get help via traditional means.

The NHS and Social Care offer support for millions every year. The wider care sector offers support and advice for many more besides and ensures that the reach of care is not limited. At this time of life, they will be operating on reduced budgets, due to reduced levels of fundraising support. The pandemic has meant that many charitable operations such as fundraising days, shops and challenges have been either limited or eliminated. Combine this with a continued reduction in donations over the last few years and an increased list of those who need support and you have a real challenge on your hands.

Beyond NHS Charities Together, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the UK charity market. The total charity sector donation value through VMG, excluding NHS donations, declined by 44% in the month following lockdown compared with the same period in 2019, from £12.5m to £7m.

Some of the UK’s biggest charities have been particularly hard hit. The top 50 charities on VMG, which includes many of our most well-known UK charities, saw fundraising income reduce by 93% in the month following lockdown compared with the same period in 2019.
Charities see a significant reduction in fundraising during COVID-19 lockdown, VirginMoney Giving

With the reduction in donations and availability to fundraise, combined with a refreshed need for support, charities need change. They need ways and means in which to see as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. This is where advances in technology will be useful, with particular regards to working from anywhere, at any time.

Education

Schools will all head back to the classroom on the 8th of March. This move will not please everyone, yet we cannot deny the benefits to child development, as well as mental health. Children have suffered, vulnerable situations have been accentuated and the gap between rich and poor has been further highlighted.

The route back to school may be a controversial one but it is needed. The problems that educational establishments will need to address come in the forms of teachers needing to isolate and going off sick. You can isolate children and keep the school open a lot easier than you can continue running the school with half the teachers isolating. Supply teachers can be used but in an era of keeping bubbles separate, it may not be an option.

On top of isolation, worries will revolve around concerns over knowledge gaps, and the mixture of on and offline learnings. Teachers are already overworked and need time. Children will not catch-up overnight. They need time that they do not have and on top of safeguarding problems that may come to light post-lockdown, educators need to be ready.

Ensuring that they are able to raise concerns in relation to children in their class, mark online and communicate with parents safely and securely will be a primary thought at this time. Ways and means in which to improve the software which underpins education will be needed.

OLM

We will continue to do what we have done since day one, be independent, make ethical decisions and focus on our part in supporting better lives for people. We will continue to push the boundaries of software and services, challenge the status quo and make a difference.

A Final Thought

The roadmap to end lockdown has been revealed and whilst it may not meet everyone’s expectations, we need to be ready. The NHS, Social Care, Education and the Wider Care Sector need to address the underpinning software at the heart of their operations to improve efficiency. In an era of budget restraints and restricted living, these critical areas of life need to ensure their long-term stability.

The quicker that concerns are raised and sent to those who can assist, the better. The world will be dealing with the direct and indirect consequences of the virus for years. The numbers of those who are vulnerable and need support will increase, whilst budgets will decrease, at least in the short term and we all need to be ready.

Software that improves operations is one of the easiest ways in which we can underpin society. Investing today can help to support tomorrow and ensure that we can Build Back Better.