Who’d have thought that queuing for hours to dump you household rubbish would become something to look forward to?

Well, sort of, but as the lockdown was eased ever so slightly this week, people are daring to dream that maybe, just maybe there’s the slightest chink of light that the peak has passed.

You’d need to wise up if you think we’ll soon be back to normal, but people do seek comfort in the old sage saying that “This too shall pass.” Especially as we’re hearing some scientists suggest that this virus will burn itself out.

Moreover, the psychotherapist Julie Samuel’s book title “This too shall pass: Stories of change, crisis and hopeful beginnings,” suggests that we can adapt and thrive while surviving our most difficult experiences.

The optimists among us buy into that only too willingly and are convinced that “when this is over”, we will recalibrate or morph into a new much better, kinder normal.

After all, we had drifted into a world where selfishness ruled in a global economic culture of greed.

It would be easy to blame Thatcherism, and I lay the responsibility for a lot of things at her door. But she did say in 1987: “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and no Government can do anything except through the people, and people must look after themselves first.”

Most people forget the next line of that quote: “It is our duty to look after ourselves first, and then also to look after our neighbour,” and it’s forgotten because too many people never got beyond looking after themselves.

Perhaps now that Covid has given society a kick up the backside, we will get back to helping our neighbour a bit more.

There are discouraging signs, though, that the greedy are still greedy and won’t give up on their avarice too easily.

This week, the Sunday Times published its Rich List and the accompanying story revealed that 63 rich listers, including 20 billionnaires, were taking advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme.

Noses in the trough, heaven forbid they’d have to help by dipping into their own deep pockets.

And one of them, Lord Sugar has since been quoted as saying: “We have to get over it, taxing the rich won’t help and austerity is unavoidable.” Sugar is worth about £1.2 billion so let’s hope austerity doesn’t hit him too hard

So, be warned that perhaps the “new normal” mightn’t be the utopia we’re hoping for.

There have been many things in the crisis that have been hard to get the head around. Perhaps one of the most jaw dropping for me was the callous disregard, even betrayal, of the older folk in our care homes. People were being released from hospital into care homes without being tested for Covid, into places crowded with the age group more disproportionately affected by the virus.

Let that sink in.

I’d like to think that as we move forward, we’ll acknowledge that betrayal and put it right. But here, too, there are worrying signs.

As the focus became more and more fixed on the scandalous numbers dying in care homes, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock claimed: “Right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care home. We set out our first advice in February, we’ve made sure care homes have the resources they need.”

“Lies,” was Piers Morgan’s one-word reaction on Twitter, and whatever you think of Morgan, on this he hits the nail on the head; some protective ring with many thousands of people in care homes losing their lives across the UK.

You really don’t get a sense at all from the Johnson administration that there is the slightest empathy for the elderly, their families and carers, who are also being let down by a lack of personal protection equipment.

In fairness to Northern Ireland’s health minister, Robin Swann did acknowledge some days ago that the battle here had shifted to care homes, where almost half of the deaths in Northern Ireland had happened, and he announced that all residents and staff would be tested by the end of June. The Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch has been fulfilling his role well in championing the interests of the elderly in this crisis.

It was Mr. Lynch who campaigned for universal testing for staff and residents, despite the Chief Medical Officer, Mr. Michael McBride speaking against the idea last week. Now, it’s happening, although it will be the end of June before the promise is honoured, months into the Covid crisis with care homes so cruelly exposed.

Indeed, the website www.thedetail.tv revealed that the Department of Health decided to cease routine inspections of all care homes in Northern Ireland.

Inspections of care homes are normally conducted by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) – which inspects and regulates some aspects of health and social care in Northern Ireland.

Such is the mess of the way figures are produced in Northern Ireland that we do not fully know the extent of Covid in care homes, but it is clear from what we do know that this is a situation of scandalous proportions. As the crisis unfolds, we await a public inquiry, probably in years to come but whether that will get to the truth of it remains to be seen.

The sad fact, though, is that we should not be surprised. The situation in our care homes was a disgrace long before this; with homes closing after inspections found poor care and safeguarding issues in some and journalists exposing abuse in others.

It has to be said that many private care homes are wonderfully run and give older people loving care. But the system must be much more robust and accountable for those who do not maintain the highest standards.

With increasing cases of dementia and other conditions, with under pressure relatives not living near loved ones and many other circumstances meaning families have to rely on care homes, and often paying through the nose for it, society needs to know that our older people are being looked after properly and are content.

Outside the homes, care packages for people living on their own also seem to be under pressure for resources, too, and a whole radical look must be taken at the social care aspect of our under-performing health authorities.

There are serious issues for the authorities, and indeed for us all in society about the way we treat our older folk, both in homes and in the community. If we really do want a kinder world, the proper care of our elderly would be one compassionate result of the wake-up call that this crisis has brought.