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.
The information on this page is aimed at ensuring you understand how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during this challenging period.
Most legal restrictions relating to Covid-19 have now ended. However, the pandemic is not over. The Government will continue to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of the virus.
The Government has published the COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter plan 2021, setting out its strategy for managing COVID-19 during the autumn and winter period.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice on the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme to maintain a high level of protection through the coming winter. Read more about the JCVI's advice: https://gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-issues-updated-advice-on-covid-19-booster-vaccination. Adult carers are recognised as priority group 6 and will be offered a booster vaccine (third dose) in the same order as in Phase 1.
To keep safe over winter the Government suggest we all should:
- Get vaccinated (if you haven't already)- the countries first line of defence is vaccination.
- Meet outdoors where possible as it is safer. If you are meeting indoors let fresh air.
- Wear a face covering in crowded and enclose settings where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- If you are not feeling well and have COVID symptoms, self isolate and take a test.
- Try to stay at home if you are feeling unwell
- Wash your hands regularly to help limit the spread of COVID-19
- Download and use the NHS COVID-19 App.
Covid-19 information leaflets are available in a range of different languages :
- Stay at home guidance. Available in Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Hindi, Polish, Punjabi, Slovak, Somali, Urdu
- Meeting with others safely. Available in Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Hindi, Polish, Punjabi, Slovak, Somali, Urdu
- Guidance for households with possible COVID-19 infection. Available in Arabic, Bengali, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, French, Gujarati, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi and Urdu
- Guidance for households with grandparents, parents and children living together where someone is at increased risk or has possible/confirmed COVID-19 Available in Arabic, Bengali, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, French, Gujarati, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi and Urdu
COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Hindi, Polish, Punjabi, Slovak, Somali, Urdu, Bulgarian, French, simplified and traditional Chinese, Nepali, Portuguese
What does this mean for people with caring responsibilities?
If you are providing care for someone who is deemed to be extremely vulnerable, take extra precautionary measures if providing essential care and ensure you follow the NHS hygiene advice for people at higher risk.
It is vital to self-isolate and follow guidance if you or the person you care for develops Covid-19 symptoms. As long as you have no Covid-19 symptoms and take every precaution, you are allowed to continue visiting someone who relies on you for care. Continue to take all the necessary steps to minimise the risk of spreading the virus such as washing hands regularly, wear a face covering, frequent cleaning and minimise contact where possible.
You can book free Covid-19 community testing for people who are not displaying any of the Covid-19 symptoms. Around one-third of people with Covid-19 do not have symptoms and can pass the virus on to loved ones without knowing it. Keep yourself, your loved ones and your communities safe. Find out more.
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone 16 years of age and older, book your vaccine.
Identifying yourself to others as a carer
Carers Together- 'I am a carer' card
If you are concerned about how you can identify yourself as a Carer, Carers Together have created a new 'I am a Carer Card' to make this easier for you. This free card identifies the holder as a Carer who is registered with Carers Together. The card is available to new and existing Carers across South Tees. To request a card please call our office on 01642 488977.
This card is offered in addition to the Local Authority Emergency Card's Scheme.
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.
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.
Contact Carers Together to find out more about their carers card scheme 01642 488977.
Do you or the person you care for find it difficult to socially distance?
The ‘please give me space’ badge has been designed to help anyone who may have difficulties in maintaining a safe, social distance during the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing the badge can be helpful to signal to others around them that they need to pay attention and give space to the wearer. You can also download it onto a mobile phone if you are not able to print it out. Find out more here. if you are caring for someone who has dementia, there's useful advice about face-coverings here.
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 10 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.
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 tests 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.
Wearing a face covering in enclosed public spaces is no longer mandatory however it is still advised and some establishments may request that you continue to wear them.
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust have created a helpful video for family members and carers of people with learning disabilities to help them understand why wearing a face mask is important, how to find a face mask that suits the person they support and how to help them get used to wearing it.
NHS Covid-19 app is available to download on your mobile phone as part of the test and trace system.
Benefit system changes
For recent updates to the benefits system, see Carers UK's A-Z of changes to benefits, assessments and support – COVID-19.
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 hugely adverse effect 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!
Talking to the person you care for about coronavirus
You don’t have to try very hard to read or hear about the current coronavirus pandemic. The language alone can feel scary. When we hear about the impact its had on other countries and the risks to older people or those living with an underlining health condition, it can make our worries and concerns worsen for those we care for and ourselves.
You might be concerned about how your loved one is reacting to the coronavirus news. Remember, you know them best and if you do decide to have a conversation about it or they bring it up, it might be because they are worried. It is important to talk to them calmly and honestly. If they are worried, remind them whilst many people have and continue to become unwell, most of those people are recovering. You can also remind them that the NHS are ready to support those who do become unwell.
People with autism
Talking to adults and/or children who are living with autism about coronavirus and supporting them to deal with the changes to their lives can be difficult. The National Autistic Society are providing information and guidance. Visit https://www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/coronavirus.aspx
People with a learning disability
Mencap have good guidance on supporting someone with a learning disability at this time www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/health/coronavirus-covid-19
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust have created a useful video for carers of people with learning disabilities to consider how to discuss and communicate aspects of coronavirus to those you care for. The video will provide useful strategies and tips to make talking together about coronavirus helpful, safe and positive.
Other useful information
The Children's Society is a national charity that has developed specific information and guidance for young cares relating to Covid-19.
Carers UK is 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: