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What is the latest guidance for carers?

We are all advised to stay at home as much as possible to keep safe as experts warn that infection levels remain high.

To help keep you informed, we have put together some guidance on what to particularly bear in mind when you have caring responsibilities.

Reminders of what to consider

If you are caring for someone who is extremely vulnerable, it is useful to understand what extra care and precautionary measures you can take.

  • In the first place, you can follow the NHS hygiene advice for people at higher risk (or NHS Inform in Scotland). 

  • Find out about the latest rules in your area: England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

  • 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  find out what protective measures you should take.

  • If you do start having symptoms, it is imperative that you self isolate and take the right steps – see below.

  • Need to consider a contingency plan? For suggestions on arranging alternative care, see our guidance on making a plan.

If you care for someone with a disability, you may also be able to benefit from a 'support bubble'/ 'extended household'. This also continues to apply to those who live alone or in a single adult household. You can find out more information here.


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When providing essential care

We are all advised to follow the latest social distancing rules carefully. However, it may be necessary for you to be in close contact with someone who relies on you for care.

You can take a range of careful measures such as wearing a face covering, keeping the environment well ventilated, frequently washing your hands and cleaning all shared surfaces, whilst minimising any contact where possible. 

You can also find advice about shielding to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus here. If you don't live with someone you care for, see the Personal Protective Equipment recommendations under 'What other protective measures can you take?'

It is vital to self-isolate and follow this guidance if you or the person you care for has symptoms. If you start having any of the symptoms of COVID-19, such as a persistent cough, fever or loss of taste or smell, immediately stop caring, get tested and notify those you have been near to who will need to self-isolate until you receive the results.

If no one is able to fill in for you, contact your council or trust straight away and explain the situation.

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 or 'Test and Protect' in Scotland, it is necessary to:  


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Getting tested

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you can request a test for yourself to see if you have the virus, or on behalf of someone you care for – see this NHS page for more details. You can also be prioritised for testing as an "essential worker" if you are an unpaid carer in England or Scotland.


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Getting vaccinated

Carers are included on the vaccination priority list in group 6. You can find out answers to some of the frequently asked questions here. You can also find out where someone you care for is likely to be on the priority list here.


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Need to travel to care?

Can I urgently visit someone in another country if they need me for care purposes?

Although most people cannot travel between countries in the UK now, there are exceptions for those who need to care for someone urgently. It is advisable to carry some form of proof, such as a letter from your doctor, to prove your role.


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Proving you are a carer

Some people are worried about having to prove they are a carer during the pandemic in order to travel and demonstrate they are exempt to certain rules.

Many local authority areas run different ID schemes, such as Carer Passports, Carer Emergency Cards, Carers Discount Cards, but not all do. Look at your local carers’ organisation or local authority website to see what is available: carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-support/local-support 

Alternatively you could contact your GP practice or your local NHS Trust. If the person you are looking after is under their care, you could register as a carer (if you haven’t already) and request a standard letter that identifies you as a carer.

In Northern Ireland, an ID card has been released for carers – see this page for more information.  


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Struggling to cope?

You are not alone with how you're feeling. At times like this, it is very hard when you are continually being asked to go above and beyond. We recognise that caring during yet another lockdown can take its toll both on you, as the carer, as well as the person or people you are caring for. 

We have put together some ideas to help lift your mood here. You can also find suggestions on what you can do to keep active here, even if it means staying at home to do your exercise. Doing a small amount of activity every so often can make a big difference to how you feel.

If you're feeling cut off from the world, join us for a weekly online video chat and meet other carers who may be going through similar challenges. In addition, our 'Share and learn' sessions  cover everything from appreciation of music to creative writing, usually led by an expert in the field. These are free and fun learning or relaxing experiences which are held weekly on Zoom. Find out more.

If you need more practical support during the pandemic, for example in terms of gaining medical supplies or food deliveries, see 'Protecting who you care for' for ideas and sources of support.  

Everyone has their limits and if you are desperately in need of help, you can get support from your council or trust to take a break from caring. Please see this Gov.uk guidance for more information. Do not hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor if you find the feelings of stress or depression are becoming too much or seek help from a supportive organisation such as Mind or Rethink.


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What other protective measures can you take?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

If you do not live with someone you care for

If you need to leave home to care for someone, the government recommends the use of PPE. In England, free PPE will be available from local authorities (LAs) and local resilience forums (LRFs) until the end of June 2021 to help provide protection from COVID-19.

See personal protective equipment (PPE): local contacts for providers for details of LAs and LRFs you can contact that are currently making PPE available to unpaid carers. 

In Scotland, PPE is also free to unpaid carers from your local authority - read more. Find out more about PPE in Wales and Northern Ireland.

For details about what type of PPE would be suitable, see 'Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on this page. You can continue to access PPE through your usual channels though, if you already use PPE because of the nature of the care you provide.

If you live with the person or people you care for

The government does not recommend that you use PPE unless advised to do so by a healthcare professional.

Face coverings 

It is compulsory now to wear face coverings in public places, such as in shops and on public transport. For more information, see  'What's the latest guidance on face coverings?' 

Contact tracing 

If you haven’t done so already, you can download a free official app to protect you and your loved ones and be prepared in your area. In England and Wales, this is the NHS COVID-19 app. While in Scotland, this is called Protect Scot. In Northern Ireland, the test and trace app can be found here.  

 


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