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The continuing impact of coronavirus on vulnerable and injured clients and their families

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Caring for a vulnerable disabled child during the Coronavirus epidemic has highlighted to one family the importance of the care package that they have had in place for several years.

YT is a 9 year old boy with significant learning difficulties and very challenging physical disabilities. He is reliant on 24 hour care and an array of therapies which keep him healthy. Prone to respiratory infections which have ended up with him being hospitalised when he was younger, his physiotherapist and trained care team have not only helped him with his personal care needs, but also kept him healthy and entertained.

Living in central London his team of devoted carers came daily as this crisis started to deepen so that his mother, a teacher and therefore also a key worker, could go out to work. However the carers travelled by public transport both to and from YT’s home and it was decided that the risks to all were too high. Given YT’s respiratory vulnerabilities, any exposure to COVID-19 could easily prove deadly. With regret the the family, including YT’s brother and sister, decided to isolate themselves completely with YT’s parents providing all his care and therapy while also looking after their other two children. Although there has been some easing in the lockdown, the risks to YT remain high and has parents have no choice but to continue providing that care.

The situation has highlighted to them the importance of a good care package when looking after a severely disabled child. Having carers in their home 24 hours a day has not been easy to get used to for the family, but the last few months have shown how invaluable the carers really are. The professional care that YT has had from his carers has included therapies for which they have been trained, and the social interaction that YT loves. This is something that his parents, whilst trying to home school and entertain their other children as well as provide the 24 hour care YT needs, just cannot devote the same time to. It is increasingly tiring and stressful to them. But it has confirmed to them the importance that the right care package can have for a child with YT’s challenges.

Care is a very significant element in any clinical negligence claim and is there to support the individual who needs care but also provide reassurance to their families that their loved one can have their personal needs met by a professional so that the family can enjoy each other’s company just as if the negligence had never occurred. It is provided for life and it is vital that the care package together with a complementary therapy package is tailored to the Claimant’s needs. With too little provision no one will see the benefits that professional care and therapies can bring.

Sarah Corser, a Senior Associate with the Clinical Negligence team at Shoosmiths, has considerable experience of working with families where a child or loved one has suffered a catastrophic brain injury and understands the importance of choosing the right experts to advise on the best and most appropriate care and therapy packages, whilst working alongside families to help these packages work.

“Getting the right care and therapy package for an individual with a catastrophic injury, is probably the single most important provision that can be achieved in a claim, but it is a team effort, as parents who have single-handedly managed the care of their child for so long, are understandably reticent to hand over the care of their child to someone else.

“It is often a matter of gaining trust and confidence in the carers and therapists, which with the right advisers will be tailored for the individual child’s needs. Talking with YT’s family in recent days has demonstrated to me, how vital it is both for the child and his family that we get the care and therapy packages right.”

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