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Coronavirus guidance for carers

What is the latest advice? (updated 8/04/20)

Update: The government has now published guidance for those who provide unpaid care to family or friends.

The government has instructed everyone to stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. Under new measures, people can only leave the house for these 4 reasons:

  • Shopping for necessities e.g. food or medicine
  • One form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household
  • For medical needs, providing care or helping a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to work if you really can’t work from home

The government has introduced new measures to stop gatherings of more than two people (expect for those who live together) and are advising those who do go outside to observe social distancing – keeping at least 2 metres away from others.

Here are some handy links:

Coronavirus: What you need to do

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK

Advice from the NHS: Symptoms and what to do

How can I protect the person I care for?

Although the government is instructing everyone to stay at home, you can still leave the house to provide care or help someone who is vulnerable – providing this care is essential.

However, there are several things you can do to minimize risk.

  • Stop face to face visits if you start to develop coronavirus symptoms
  • Wash your hands on arrival (and throughout your visit) for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover you mouth with a sleeve or tissue (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put tissues in the bin and wash your hands immediately.

It’s important to have an emergency plan in place, so that the person you’re caring for can get support if you’re unable to continue in your caring role.

Carers UK has a very good guide to this, which you can read here.

For those at increased risk of illness from coronavirus

The government has issued a list of those whose who age, circumstances and medical history makes them especially vulnerable to coronavirus.

This includes anyone aged 70 or older, and people with underlying health conditions including those with a weakened immune system. For the full list click here.

Roughly 1.5 million people with severe underlying health conditions have been contacted by the Department of Health by letter and text. The advice for these people is to stay home at all times, and to avoid face to face contact for at least 12 weeks (except with carers and those providing medical and social care).

If this applies to you, or the person you care for, you can register here to get coronavirus support as a vulnerable person: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

As an extra precaution, you should talk to the person you care for – to make sure they understand who they need to call if they feel unwell.

FAQs for carers

The current government measures to stop the spread of coronavirus have affected daily life across the UK and pose their own challenges for carers. The team at Swindon Carers Centre is available to answer your questions. Here are just a few things we’ve been asked recently.

How do I prove I am a carer if get stopped now we have a lockdown?

 News headlines are currently focusing on new police powers to stop anyone breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. However, the Home Office has also said that they will always apply ‘common sense and discretion’.

 How do I let the supermarkets know I am shopping for my dependant who is vulnerable?

 Many supermarkets are keeping priority shopping slots for NHS workers and vulnerable or elderly adults. Swindon Carers Centre is providing registered carers with letters explaining that they are registered with us, in order to try and help people access these restricted shopping times. If you’d like to know more, please call our Adult Carer Support Services team on 01793 401090.

 How do I get essential supplies (food and medication) to my dependant?

 Pharmacies are staying open, but many are under pressure and some are having to reduce opening hours. This is so that their teams can focus on preparing medicines and restocking shelves. Unfortunately, some pharmacies which previously delivered prescriptions are no longer able to do so. Apps like these may offer an alternative:

Echo Pharmacy: A free online repeat prescription service from Lloyds Pharmacy.

Well Pharmacy: NHS prescriptions delivered.

As mentioned above, many supermarkets are now changing their hours – to keep the first hour available for elderly and vulnerable people. Many people have experienced difficulties ordering online. Supermarkets are now being given access to a government database, to help them prioritise food deliveries for priority customers like this.

 How does my loved one get support if I am self-isolating as they need help?

 Thousands of people have responded to a recruitment drive, volunteering to help up to 1.5 million vulnerable people who will be confined to their homes during the outbreak. As mentioned, you can now sign up to get support here.

Locally, there are also many initiatives taking place. For help with shopping, call the Swindon Live Well Hub on 01793 465513. If you’re worried about support for the person you usually care for, speak to your local GP, care provider or contact Swindon Borough Council Social Services Adult Community Team on 0800 085 666.

 Looking after your own wellbeing

It’s important that you take care of your own health and wellbeing, even if you’re busy looking after somebody else. In addition, you may be feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus and the implication for you and the person you care for.

 If you’d like some advice, this page from the charity Mind has plenty of useful information.

This link may also prove useful:

10 tips to help if you’re worries about coronavirus.

Online resources for carers

Local information

Swindon Borough Council: Coronavirus page

Coronavirus joint statement from Sanford House Voluntary Sector organisations

Compassionate Swindon volunteer scheme

Emergency measures

Which? Coronavirus lockdown: how do the new measures affect carers?

Citizens Advice: Coronavirus – What it means for you

Finance

Universal Credit: Coronavirus and claiming benefits

The Money Advice Service: Coronavirus and your money

Specific health conditions

Sensory Spectacle: SPD & Covid-19

Coronavirus: Support for a person with dementia living alone

NHS website: Mental health helplines