BECOMING CREATIVE DURING A PANDEMIC
Updated: Sep 24
When Elizabeth Hughes and her family first realised that they would have to go into lockdown, they had some understandable concerns about how it would impact their day-to-day lives.
Aside from having to reduce how many support workers Elizabeth uses, there was a concern that she would be completely cut off from her regular network of supports. Despite some concerns, Elizabeth has adapted to her life in lockdown and experienced some unexpected positives.
Over the last two months, Elizabeth has gained access to a world that does not easily accommodate her, and Zoom has provided a portal where she can see the world from a new perspective.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a really big, bad, worldwide thing, but for us as a family, there’s been some good things that have come out of lockdown. Access to things we would have trouble accessing,” explains Elizabeth’s sister, Emma.
During the last fifteen years, music has become a fixture in Elizabeth’s life, with her using it as a therapeutic outlet. Her most recent music therapist, David formally worked with her in-person meeting once a week. However, the introduction of the COVID-19 lockdown meant that they would have to continue their therapy online.
“It’s actually better having the sessions online as it’s easier for David to see her eye points” Emma said.
David operates a studio out of his home, where he has access to a small orchestra of instruments, something that was not accessible to Elizabeth before COVID-19. Emma says they’re actually wondering why they had never thought of having the sessions online before.
The new approach is fun, with more opportunity to learn new things, and there is an opportunity for Elizabeth to be her own boss.
“We’re hoping some of these things will continue long after this,” says Emma.
For Elizabeth, the overwhelming hurdle has been managing her physical health. Like many CPSN members, she had to consider how exposure to the virus would compromise sessions with her support workers. However, because many of her support worker sessions are now done online – Elizabeth can get a different perspective into the lives of her support base.
“I think also it’s been a bit of an eye-opener into other people’s worlds because you’re getting an insight into other people’s homes. These are things that would never have come up in the relationship if they were still coming into our house,” explains Emma.
The pandemic has brought challenges in terms of managing Elizabeth’s health, particularly with critical things like medical appointments. But surprisingly, she is getting exposure to things that were difficult to incorporate into her daily life. Her support workers have introduced her to books she wouldn’t normally read, and she loves to watch the Melbourne Aquarium live stream, all from the comfort of home.
There is something significant about how this crisis has brought about a culture shift that embraces people with disabilities. For Elizabeth, there is a great hope that some of the social adjustments that have been put in place, will remain available post-lockdown.
Elizabeth already knows what she wants to continue to post-lockdown.
“Playing Pokémon together is something I love to do, and I want to keep playing even when restrictions are lifted,” she said.