Ready to shield since January. COVID-19 and asthma

Featured article - 06 May 2020
By Aaron Foulds, Asthma UK volunteer

Aaron Foulds, Asthma UK volunteer

I’m the guy in the photo. That’s me with a nebuliser mask on. I have severe asthma and I was planning to get ready to shield as early as January. For many people, COVID-19 was the great unknown. People don’t know if they’ll catch it or, if they do, the effect it’ll have on them but I’ve a real good idea.

I’ve heavily researched asthma and I’m hope savvy enough, about my condition to know from early on that, what was happening in China and laterally Italy – was coming our way. And coming my way if I wasn’t careful. Any contact I have with COVID-19 will have a direct impact on me and my “underlying condition”.

Luckily, my employers understand my situation and have been fantastic. That’s in stark contrast to some of the health professionals that I’ve been dealing with over the years. Don’t get me wrong – I’m at my window clapping on a Thursday night for all the care staff doing an amazing job. They are heroes.

Disjointed procedures

It’s just that, with much of the various bits of the NHS I’ve dealt with, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing; and that’s unfortunately continued during the lockdown. The people have the best of intentions; It’s just the procedures don’t always work. If I contracted COVID-19 I’d prefer to go over to Leeds, where I know the Acute respiratory clinic is but they don’t have Full access to my medical history. For example, my own GP hasn’t even allowed me to have access to my own notes!

I gather that SCIE call it co-production, but whatever it’s called, what’s needed is more professionals listening to people like me. I’ve had too many HCPs ignoring me not listening to the one person who knows their own body the best, only then to discover I was right all along. But that’s where organisations like Asthma UK have a critical role to play. The lay representatives they have at meetings – I’m one of them – all have a great deal of knowledge and are centrally involved in sharing their lived experience. We ask ‘why?’; we query things; and we offer up ideas and solutions that Health professionals don’t always see. For instance, my asthma means that I have several associated health conditions, including severe allergies, but many professionals will look at each condition isolation rather than the whole. And it’s great that Charities like Asthma UK listen to people like me act on issues like these – then implement them.

I’m going to continue to be really careful for quite a while, even if lockdown is decreased or ultimately ends. COVID-19 will still be around until there’s a vaccine or treatment But, in the meantime, I’ll be advocating for the rights of patients, and doing everything I can to raise awareness of how we can address the COVID-19 situation, and hopefully defeat it; and at the same time change hearts and minds about how people with asthma are treated.

Aaron is part of the Bradford District and Craven Digital Health and Care Programme Board. SCIE are grateful to that organisation for introducing Aaron to us.

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