In this section we have pulled some key pieces of information together that particularly relates to being a carer during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. This includes national and local resources and updates.
If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at high risk from coronavirus, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance through their online coronavirus helpline. Call 111 if your (or their) symptoms become severe, and let them know you are a carer.
What is the latest advice for unpaid carers?
The government has published guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family during the coronavirus outbreak. The guidance refers to clinically vulnerable people, these are people who are at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19. This group includes:
- those who are aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- those under 70 with a specified, underlying health condition (for adults, this usually means anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
- pregnant women
If you are caring for someone who is deemed to be extremely vulnerable, take extra precautionary measures by minimising contact where possible and ensure you follow the NHS hygiene advice for people at higher risk. Shielding is no longer required however local lockdowns have come into effect in some areas across the UK. No current local lockdown measures have been implemented in Middlesbrough. Keep up to date with any local restrictions on the Middlesbrough Council website.
Social distancing advice is changing fairly regularly, make sure you understand what you can and can't do in order to keep you and your loved ones safe.
If you are providing essential care, it is vital to stop and self-isolate if you start having symptoms of COVID-19 – these include a loss of smell and taste or the more commonly known symptoms of a persistent cough or fever.
If you are notified that you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus by the NHS Test and Trace system:
- you must self-isolate for 14 days
- follow the advice in this guidance.
To find out what to do if you or someone you care for has symptoms, follow this NHS guidance.
The government advise all carers to create an emergency plan with the person they care for, to use in circumstances where help from other people to deliver care may be needed. Depending on the circumstances, this could be help from family or friends, or a care provider.
In order to create an emergency plan that fits the needs of the person you care for, you will need to set out:
- the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
- who you and the person you look after would like to be contacted in an emergency
- details of any medication the person you look after is taking
- details of any ongoing treatment they need
- details of any medical appointments they need to keep
You should also ensure that it is in a format that can readily be shared with other people who will need to discuss the plan with the person you care for.
Testing is now available to anyone over the age of five, with symptoms of coronavirus Tests can be requested through the NHS website. You can apply on someone else's behalf online, with their permission, if they are not able to.
Unpaid carers are on the governments latest list of essential workers who can be prioritised for COVID-19 testing. Find out more about how to get tested, the process and what types of test are available on this Gov.uk page.
The government advise the public to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where you may be more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
The government advise the public to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces, where you may be more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet. The use of face coverings is now compulsory on public transport or when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient and will become mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020.
Exemptions for the use of face coverings do apply if you have certain health conditions or disabilities, where wearing one causes problems. These also apply to children under the age of 11 and further information on staying safe outside is available.
Further information from the government
If you are a carer, and have been asked by your employer to return to work following the easing of lockdown, you can find general information about your rights from Citizens Advice.
The Government has launched a free Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp.
To activate this:
- add 07860 064422 to your phone contacts
- message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp text
Prioritise your own health and wellbeing
Carers UK recently (2020) carried out an online survey to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on carers. They have since produced a report to share their findings.
The report shows that 55% of unpaid carers feel overwhelmed and are worried that they are going to be burnt out in the coming weeks.
The full report can be read below:
It is clear from the report that the pandemic is having a huge adverse affect on unpaid carers. This amplifies the importance of taking care of your own wellbeing right now as much as you do for the health of the loved one you support!
Other useful information
The Children's Society is a national charity who have developed specific information and guidance for young cares relating to Covid-19.
Carers UK are a national organisation providing carers with expert advice, information and support. They campaign and innovate to find better ways to reach and support carers. They have a range of frequently asked questions which is a useful resource you can see them below: