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.
The information on this page is aimed at ensuring you understand how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during this challenging period.
Keep up to date with the very latest information from:
Second national lockdown
We are now in a second national lockdown which is different from the first lockdown. The key messages from the government for this lockdown are:
From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, you must:
- Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Close certain businesses and venues.
These new measures will reduce the growth rate of the virus, which will:
- prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed
- ensure schools, colleges and universities can stay open
- ensure that as many people as possible can continue to work
Providing care to a vulnerable adult or child is one of the exemptions to restrictions on household mixing during lockdown.
If you are looking after a loved one whom you do not live with, you can continue to provide care and support to that person. 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 do not need to worry about being able to continue to provide care for a loved one. Matt Hancock confirmed that a relative or friend can continue to care for a 'vulnerable' adult from a different household as an informal carer in all current & future lockdowns.
Matt Hancock told MPs:
"I'm able to announce a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes.
"This covers both formal and informal arrangements. "I hope this change will provide clarity and comfort to many people who are living with these local restrictions."
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 and is available to new and existing Carers across South Tees. To request a card please call our office on 01642 488977.
This new card is offered in addition to the Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's Carers Card scheme and Middlesbrough Council Carers Emergency Card Scheme and will work alongside them.
Reduce your chances of getting Covid-19 by:
- HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
- FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
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 restrictions are in place in both Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland.
Does 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 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.
Contact Carers Together to find out more about their carers card scheme 01642 488977.
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.
It is mandatory to wear face coverings in a range of enclosed public spaces including public transport, shops, libraries and places of worship. Take a look at the full list produced by the government along with information on making your own covering. The government also advise that coverings are worn in enclosed spaces where you may be more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
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.
New NHS Covid-19 app is now 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 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!
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 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: