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What is the latest guidance for carers?

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 guidance 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 to get tested immediately – see below.

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

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When providing essential care

If you are concerned about the risk COVID-19 still poses, 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 protecting 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, keep away from others and notify those you have been near to, who will need to self-isolate whilst you await 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 PCR 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.

If you do not have symptoms and cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university, you can order a rapid lateral flow test. If you're unsure, check here.

Home-testing kits can be ordered free of charge and will arrive in the post imminently. It is vital to stay well away from others and arrange cover for anyone you care for if you suspect you have any of the symptoms.

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Getting vaccinated

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

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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: 

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?

Even as restrictions are eased, a sense of normality has not yet returned for many of us with services running at limited capacity levels and the risk of COVID-19 still being present for those who are most vulnerable. You are not alone if you are still feeling anxious or isolated. It is especially hard if you are continually being expected to go above and beyond without a break. 

We have put together some ideas to help 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 Latin dance, to Motown music, to creative writing, usually led by an expert in the field. These are free, fun and 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 urgent support from your council or trust to take a break from caring. Please see this 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 specialist supportive organisation such as Mind or Rethink.

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Are there long-term effects from coronavirus (long COVID)?

After having COVID-19, some people find that they have lingering effects from the virus. It is important to seek help if you (or someone you care for) are being affected. The NHS provides useful guidance to help you recognise the signs and aid recovery here.

In particular, they have a dedicated website to provide support if you're caring for someone with long-term effects:

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What other protective measures can you take?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

See personal protective equipment (PPE): local contacts for providers for details of local authorities and local resilience forums 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.

Face coverings 

Face coverings are still strongly recommended (and in some instances mandatory) in indoor public settlings and on some modes of 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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