How social distancing renders people with COPD (even more) invisible
Dr Heather YoeliZoom
As the Life of Breath study has shown, breathlessness is largely an invisible experience, and people living with breathless experience high levels of socioeconomic marginalisation and epistemic injustice. Of all the illnesses which cause breathlessness, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most prevalent, chronic, and disabling … and yet also one of the least publicised, funded, or researched.
Prior to the vaccine, the UK’s public health response to Covid-19 relied largely upon “social distancing”, or of keeping citizens not directly engaged in the pandemic response at least two metres apart from one another, and preferably at home. People whose pre-existing conditions render them at highest risk of contracting, becoming most unwell from, and requiring mechanical ventilation for Covid-19, have been particularly expected to “socially distance”. Given that COPD is, like Covid-19, a respiratory illness, and given that COPD, to a greater extent than other long-term conditions, is largely an illness of poverty, people with COPD experience these social distancing requirements as uniquely isolating and marginalising. In exploring how and why social distancing renders people with COPD (even more) invisible, this presentation will showcase a song composed and performed by a socially-distanced group of people living with COPD.