As the government scales-up its response to the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, there are a number of anxiety-inducing phrases peppering the headlines on a daily basis, including 'social distancing', 'self-isolation' and 'pandemic'. But some are choosing to take a slightly friendlier approach to their outbreak communications...
"Cocooning (so much nicer than self-isolation) is staying inside one's home, insulated to protect from perceived danger, instead of going out," the social media post from Tuesday 17th March read.
It is part of the WI's wider aim to reassure local members and share some "practical ways in which members can help combat the isolation and loneliness many might feel whilst cocooning."
The more positive terminology has been welcomed by WI members in Gloucestershire, who are currently busy setting up support plans to help the elderly and vulnerable in their communities.
"The phrase 'self-isolating' sounds very stark and a little scary, especially for such a friendly, welcoming and inclusive social group like the WI who have lots of members over the age of 60," says Catherine Pritchard, member of the Lechlade WI. "Referring to it as 'cocooning' sounds much more positive and encouraging, as though we will be staying warm and safe in our homes, protected from the world outside," says Catherine.
After introducing the new term, the WI Facebook post continued to share a message of support: "With the latest news about the possibility of 'Every Briton over the age of 70 will be told within the coming weeks to stay at home for an extended period to shield them from coronavirus' (Health Secretary Matt Hancock via BBC News) we will have members who are/will self-isolate or Cocooning. What action can WI's take for their members? We may be isolating ourselves but we are a WI family! [...] The message is you are not alone."
The Gloucestershire Federation of WIs have put in place a number of strategies to make sure elderly and vulnerable people are fully supported during this period of uncertainty. They include:
1. A Call Tree: "A member contacts a designated member for a chat, the person receiving the call is then responsible for calling another member so that each member receives and makes a call."
2. Virtual coffee mornings: "For those with internet and technology - Skype calls, Whatsapp, Zoom – have your craft club, book club or just a natter via Skype or other IT enabled media."
3. Isolation reach out plan: "WI Committees identify their members who potentially may be isolated and put in place a call programme for those individuals using any communication devise appropriate to the person(s)."
If you are concerned about the welfare of an elderly, vulnerable or isolated person during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, contact their local WI for support. Alternatively, contact their local council for advice on how to help them.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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