Coronavirus advice for carers
COVID is hard for everyone, but especially for carers. Here’s the key information you need to know, with links to further sources of support in Surrey and nationally.
If you have any concerns, questions or worries, please get in touch. Call us on 0303 040 1234, email CarerSupport@actionforcarers.org.uk or text on 07714 075993. We’re still here to support you, including our wide range of events and support groups.
Read more about the vaccination and its roll out in Surrey, including prioritisation for carers on our vaccine page.
Early 2021 lockdown
As of early January, England is in national lockdown, which means you should stay at home except for limited reasons. For full details of what’s allowed please visit GOV.UK National Lockdown Stay Home but note it includes the following information:
- Meeting others and care – You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble, to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
A support bubble is a network linking two households. These are permitted under certain circumstances.
There is also Government guidance for carers, around restrictions.
Care home visiting
You should check the guidance on visiting care homes during COVID-19 to see the latest updates.
Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as screens, visiting pods, or behind windows and it may now be possible for up to 2 people to be named visitors to make close-contact indoor visits. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak. There is separate guidance for those in supported living.
Many food shops continue to have priority times, for visiting shops, and online deliveries, for older and vulnerable customers, including carers. This page lists all the supermarkets’ revised opening hours and any special access to on-line shopping and other community support available.
To ‘prove’ you are a carer, if required (for example, when attending a medical appointment with the person you care for, or for priority shopping) we have an official letter for our registered carers (living in Surrey), authorised by Surrey County Council and the NHS in Surrey, the NHS Carer COVID Identification Letter.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes things like gloves, aprons, face masks and eye protection that help to reduce the spread of coronavirus. If:
- you support someone who cannot manage without your support,
- you do not get paid for the support you provide and
- you live in a different household to the person you care for
you can now get free PPE to help keep you and them safe, and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
If you are a carer who lives in the same household as the person you care for and are concerned about the coronavirus being spread you may also be able to get free PPE.
(If you are paid to support someone, please approach your employer for the PPE you need.)
Please get in touch with us — call 0303 040 1234 or email us at CarersInfoCentre@actionforcarers.org.uk to find out more and make a request.
This Government guide explains all the types of PPE.
Trusted sources of support and information
Surrey County Council’s full guidance is here – services, support, information
Their Surrey Community Helpline for there to direct you to services that can help during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s there for two things:
- To help direct residents who need support – if friends or family are unable to help – with such things as picking up shopping, prescription collections or having someone who can be a telephone friend, and to other services that can help.
- To provide advice on where to register your offer of help to support your community.
Availability: Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm. SMS: 0786 0053 465 for Deaf and hearing-impaired residents only (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm) or call your local district or borough council who can direct you to local support in your area.
National government advice is here – regulations, how to keep yourself safe, etc.
Misinformation – how to check
It’s so important right now to know you are getting the correct information. This website has a helpful video (in English, and several other languages, such as Arabic), to help you be clear on what information sources are trustworthy.
Benefits and money matters
COVID may have impacted your finances – read about the support available.
Free home monitoring service
TIHM is a new remote monitoring support that helps you monitor your home, your health and your cared for’s health. It’s been sent up to give extra support during COVID. It’s available to people with dementia or mild cognitive impairment; people 65+ with a diagnosis of depression/anxiety; and carers of both these groups. It’s free, and you can self-refer, or contact us for more information.
Further information on key COVID-related topics – click on the heading to jump to that section:
You or the person you care for may be classed as ‘high risk/vulnerable’ or ‘Clinically extremely vulnerable’.
High risk includes everyone over 70, people with underlying conditions (the sort of condition where you’re instructed to get a flu jab on medical grounds), chronic heart or neurological conditions, and many more (listed here). This group is advised to follow the current guidance especially carefully.
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable
The advice for people classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) is that they should shield (that’s for example organ transplant patients, people with certain cancers, or severe respiratory conditions). A letter will be sent to you from the Government advising you to shield if you are CEV. What does this mean? The advice can be found in the “Shielding” section of the GOV.UK guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable persons from COVID-19.
Getting supplies can be especially difficult when shielding. You can call the NHS Volunteer Responders for help on 0808 196 3646, 8am-8pm, or the Surrey Community Helpline (see above). And find out about food shopping access on our shopping information page. To register for a priority supermarket delivery, or local support, go to the government website here. A carer can register the person they’re looking after.
Anyone can now get a test: if you don’t have symptoms, you can get a lateral flow test, which gives quick results. If you do have symptoms, you’ll need a more detailed PCR. Find out more, and make a booking on the Government’s website. If you don’t have the facility to book online, call NHS 119. For more details on how testing works, look at Surrey County Council’s website.
Test and trace
Please click on this government page to find out more about test and trace.
Some key points to consider are:
- Have an emergency plan
- Ensure your GP knows you are a carer
- Consider testing
- Keep up to date on shopping priority access
- Sort out your Carers’ Assessment
- Look after yourself
- Register with us
Many carer households have paid carers coming to the house. You may also be a carer who lives apart from the person you care for and so have to go to their house. If you are concerned about infection-risks, here are some guidelines:
This Government guidance explains exactly what care workers should be doing; you can confirm with your worker or agency that they are following these guidelines to put your mind at rest.
If you have any questions, please contact us on 0303 040 1234.
If you become unwell with Coronavirus symptoms you should call 111 to get the latest advice and information, and let them know you are a carer. You can also use the NHS 111 online coronavirus helpline or visit the NHS Coronavirus information page.
You may need to let Surrey County Council’s relevant Social Care team know about your situation:
Surrey Adult Social Care Line – 0300 200 1005
Surrey Children Social Care Line – 0300 470 9100 (option 1+2)
Mental Health Carers – 0208 547 8030
Out of hours emergency line – 01483 517 898
Where you can, follow guidance on self-isolation. The self-isolation period upon developing COVID-19 symptoms is 10 days. If you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 14 days. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive, someone in your household has tested positive or you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and informed to self-isolate.
Surrey County Council’s service, the Community Helpline will let people know of trusted services who can help with things like picking up medication or doing shopping for you. The Community Helpline number is 0300 200 1008, and it is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. To get support, and for example to get access to priority supermarket deliveries, register via the Government website.
We also have some tips on good mental health in these challenging times. You can also have a look at Active Surrey who have some great workouts for all ages and abilities. They also have lots of useful information around COVID generally.
We are all advised to continue with medical appointments (although often by phone or sometime by secure video link rather than face to face). But if it’s necessary to be seen (even for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable), we are advised to attend hospital and GP appointments unless told otherwise by your doctor.
For someone clinically extremely vulnerable if you need help to travel to an appointment, speak to the hospital or your healthcare professional to arrange transport support with NHS Volunteer Responders.
If you need medicines for an clinically extremely vulnerable person and no-one can pick these up, talk to the pharmacy as they will deliver free of charge. In fact, most pharmacies deliver prescription medicines these days, and have a link with local GP surgeries, so talk to your surgery.
Please note our Hospital Carer Support Advisors are still available to help you, communicating by phone and email. They know all about helping carers at East Surrey, Epsom, the Royal Surrey, Frimley Park and St Peter’s and can help you navigate the COVID situation, as well as give you the support, advice and information they would normally.
We remain fully operational, although with some changes to our events and support groups. More here.