Essential care workers suffer abuse

An essential worker is disgusted by the level of hostility that members of the community have been showing her and other essential workers while going about their daily duties.

The woman, who declined to be named, said she worked for a company that provides at-home care services for elderly and disabled people.

"I am disgusted and ashamed by the level of hostility that other members of the community have been showing us essential workers."

She said she was recently leaving a property where she had been working with a client, when a man started yelling profanities at her from his property.

"His verbal abuse is now burnt in the back of my mind and sits heavy on my heart.

"It is understandable that, given the unprecedented nature of Covid-19, and the requirement of a lockdown, that everyone is anxious and fear is setting in.

"However, the services we provide are paramount to the survival and longevity of our most vulnerable."

She said she recently received an email which was sent to all carers nationally, regarding an incident that involved the vandalism of a carer’s car, by members of the public who took it upon themselves to enforce "lockdown policy".

"Fortunately for the carer, the vandals themselves, the carer’s clients and the carer’s family, the carer was not hurt in the process."

She said her own personal experience, and the one recounted in the email, had left her with "utmost disappointment and a new-found ill-faith in our people".

"Put yourself in our shoes. We are terrified too! You will now find a sign attached to all our carers’ cars, indicating that we are essential workers. So, instead of throwing profanities and verbal abuse around, how about a wave, thumbs-up, or a simple smile of encouragement?"

Age Concern Otago executive officer Debbie George said she had not heard of any similar incidents of abuse towards her staff, but was shocked and angry that it was happening to other essential services workers.

She said most people were behaving well but a minority were behaving very badly.

"Essential workers are following all the precautions to keep themselves and anybody that they’re working with, safe.

"So this abuse is unacceptable."

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