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Frontline workers frustrated by difficulties securing childcare

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Frontline workers have been praised across the world for their efforts in tackling COVID-19 but for some in Clare, they are fretting daily with the worry of trying to secure childcare.

One woman from Ennis has shared her difficulties with The Clare Echo following weeks of frustration attempting to secure childcare while also focusing on her job when the work of those in healthcare has never been monitored as closely.

Having made an agreement with a child minder who had no concerns despite the increased risk being explained, the family were happy but this was short-lived as they were informed of the minder’s health fears which brought an end to their arrangement. “I understand that people are concerned but the reality is we as healthcare workers need to be facilitated to get to work. We are the people who need to be there to mind their vulnerable loved ones should they require hospital treatment”.

Although a Facebook page has been set up linking childcare volunteers with healthcare workers, the Clare woman has had no joy as of yet getting childcare to cover her twenty to twenty five hours per week.

“It is stressful enough trying to plan our services, support our colleagues and educate ourselves on COVID 19 without having additional pressure of childcare to coordinate can people please start to consider the bigger picture. I wouldn’t cross over with whoever’s would potentially mind our son, I adhere to strict hand hygiene change out of my uniform in work and come in the door and straight upstairs to shower the risks are unlikely to be high,” she stated.

Although teachers are currently working by assigning material to students and correcting it when completed, she is of the view that the education and childcare providers can be the ones to help out healthcare workers. “There needs to be some people who step up to support us as healthcare workers particularly if they are off work on a full salary, are not compromised and have no direct contact with a relative who is compromised or elderly”.

Understanding of the concerns and anxiety of others that may be worried about contracting the virus, she was adamant the risks are low to those that mind the children of healthcare workers. “There seems to be a really enormous difference between the accepted high risk to healthcare workers on the frontline who may be faced with the reality of limited protective equipment while treating COVID-19 positive patients and the very reduced risk to people who are working in the homes of these people looking after their children”.

Direct contact needs to be reduced to collectively slow down the rate of community transmission allowing time for the hospitals to cope and “offer best care to everyone”, she explained. “From what I see people, particularly young and not immunocompromised, are more concerned with contracting it themselves than they are the wider social implications for everyone in our society. Here’s an example, so for someone not to support someone in healthcare to go to work it takes another person off the frontline where perhaps one of their loved ones may need critical support in the coming weeks. We are likely facing huge shortages in staff as they become sick so every person in a clinical role counts.

“If as I am seeing all young people who could do a bit opt out of that for their own protection from the virus it will have far reaching consequences for any parent working in the HSE. The wider social context of not supporting parents to keep working in other industries is a more severe recession which will also have obvious and wide social implications on everyone. This has been likened to a war and our medic colleagues keep using that term that it will be like war medicine as we run out of protective equipment and other equipment to care for patients. Conscription exists in war times because very few want to put their hand up to help everyone wants to stay safe at home. I get that but if everyone opts for their own protection over the greater social good, there are wider social implications,” the Clare woman concluded.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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