34. COVID-19 and the years reflection

Not sure if you may have noticed, but there’s a pandemic going on outside. I was at my work at a sleepover when we were notified that we had till 12pm the next day to clear our desks. That resulted in me having to haul in staff the following morning so I could get up from Edinburgh in time. Rocked up at 11.40. Within 20 mins my desk was cleared, and I was standing outside with a 6 bags and pile of cardboard models. Thank goodness I had taken the weighted vests and weights home the last time I was in, an extra 31kg wouldn’t have been ideal. Part of me had wished that I had made my product already, that would have helped me carry that stuff!

In terms of my project, COVID has changed things dramatically for me, as it has a lot of people. I should elaborate a bit on my job. I have been given permission by my client ‘J’ to mention her in this blog. I have been part of a self-employed care team providing care for her for 8 years. I’ve lived in her house 3 days a week during this time, apart from when I’ve been in learning, when I go only 1 day a week. She is a big part of my life, and I’m a big part of hers. I tried to leave at the beginning of 4th year, but she moved to a new house in October, and we had a lot of staffing issues. She then became very unwell in November and the effects of that lasted till recently. It was coming to a point that me leaving could have been a bad tipping point, so I’ve kept my foot in the door.

Now when COVID hit, it caused uproar in the care community. There is a large team of us carers, but suddenly that number fell, through people feeling unwell the schools being off, people refusing to put their family at risk or clients wishing less turnover of carers to reduce risk on infection. Well that left us with a team of 3 carers to provide 24-hour care, and one of those carers, who is also my good friend, was randomly attacked with a weapon at the start of April (you couldn’t make this up) and hospitalised. She’s been signed off for 6 weeks in total – so far. That leaves me and another carer, that can only do 6 days a month. So, myself (and my dog) have moved in with my client. I am here till after my hand in date. So, of course, this has affected my ability to get on with my work. I’m not allowed to go to the shop, so I can’t nip out for supplies. I had to wait for the weekly ASDA delivery to get glue.

I would also care to mention the fact that it’s a pandemic!! I mean, I could not get my head around this for weeks. The enormity of it all paralysed me. All my friends are paramedics, carers and social workers. My mother works in a supermarket. Aunt is the manager of a residential care facility. There was no getting away from the fact that this is awful, and I was hearing the ins and outs. I think because I’m so involved in this community, it was impossible for it not to be consuming. I’m not ashamed to admit that all motivation for this project left me for a good month, as I was acutely aware of how significant this is to life as we know it. People are dying, the vulnerable are at risk the most, the economy has died, and we’re not allowed to go outside. It’s a pretty big deal. I’m in my second global recession of my working life and I’ve not long hit my thirties. It’s all a bit mad.

I was offered to defer till next year, which I decided to decline. I wont produce my best work this year, few will, but I will keep working on my skills till life resumes as normal again, when it comes a time to begin job searching.

Once the shock of the situation has lessened. It allowed other thoughts into my head. On the plus side, J and her family are happy for me to get on with my work, although it is difficult to concentrate when I know it won’t be long before I have to do something. So, I found my mojo again when I settled into J’s a bit.

I have been able to order some of stuff that I need from the internet. I don’t have any cardboard for prototypes, so I’ll focus more on drawing ideas. I have a cheap sewing machine that will do. I should be ok in terms of user testing etc. I can test it myself in the garden. I got all the things you would typically take to a festival from my home before coming here. I am missing supplies of things that I could normally grab at the art shop, but delivery still exists and I can make do with this.

My product isn’t gonna be a great final piece, as I didn’t leave myself enough time, which I take full responsibility for. I changed my project too late in the game, so I was already as a self-made disadvantage. I was so invested in an idea of a tent that I didn't take a step back to look at what other things I could work on. I'm aware that's a big rule in the design world - keeping your mind open to new ideas. My work/uni/life balance has been off this year completely. I have learned from this all, however. I must work on my priorities and remove distraction. I just have to hope and aim for my best at this point in time.

I'm fortunate that I took the notion of taking most of my uni things with me - especially my sewing machine - in case I ended up here longer than first anticipated.