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Latest news, information and sources of help, advice and support in Scotland

This section contains information for carers about advice and help that is available in Scotland to support carers.

This page intends to complement information produced by Carers UK to support carers across all four nations with specific information that only applies to carers. It is not intended to provide medical information or guidance on coronavirus which can be found at NHS Inform

Latest News and Advice

Flu Vaccination and COVID boostersFactsheet

Unpaid carers aged 16 and over providing face-to-face care can now register online for a coronavirus booster and flu vaccination.  

You can only receive your coronavirus booster dose 6 months (24 weeks) after your second dose.  NHS Scotland will aim to give you both vaccines at the same time where possible.

You can book online at: www.nhsinform.scot/carersregister or by calling 0800 030 8013 if you cannot register online.  You will need your unique username, postcode, date of birth and email address. Your unique username is the same as the one previously provided to you on your COVID-19 vaccine appointment letters. If you cannot find their username, you will be able to recover it by using the ‘recover username’ option on the portal online or by calling the helpline on 0800 030 8013.

COVID boosters and the flu vaccination are also available to book online if you or the person you care for is:

  • Aged 40 or over
  • Aged 16 or over and a household contact of an immunosuppressed person

Vaccination for the person you care for

Those aged 60 and over and those aged 16 and over with an underlying health condition will receive a letter about their appointment or, depending on where they live, may be contacted by their GP practice.  If the person you care for lives in a care home, they will be provided with information about their COVID booster and flu vaccination by their care home.  If they have not been invited by 19 November, they can log in online or phone the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 to check if an appointment has been booked.   Home visits will be available for housebound individuals and you will be contacted by your local health board. You should contact your local health board for further information.

Third doses for people with severely weakened immune system

A third dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is being offered for people aged 12 years and over who have a severely weakened immune system around the time they had their first two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.  This third dose is an extra ‘top-up’ dose to help increase the level of protection for people who may not have generated a full immune response to the first two doses and might be less protected than the wider population.  A thrid dose is different from a booster.  If you are eligible for a third primary dose, you will also need a booster dose to extend the protection from your previous doses. The Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will provide further guidance on the timing of boosters for this group in due course.   Individuals eligible for a third dose should have already been contacted but if you or the person you care for is within this group, and think you have been missed, you should contact your GP or clinican

Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years

NHS Scotland is offering the coronavirus vaccine to all children and young people aged 12 to 17 years.  All children and young people aged 12 to 15 will receive a letter inviting them to attend their vaccination appointment.  Young people aged 16 and 17 should have already received an invitation letter. If you have not received an invitation letter you register online.  Children and young people aged 12 to 17 can attend open access services to receive their vaccine.  Click here to find details of drop in clinics in your area.

Not received first or second dose?

If you have not registered for a coronavirus vaccination or have not received your second dose you can still do so by attending any of the open access services running across Scotland.  Click here to find details of drop in clinics in your area.

Further information

Further information about the flu vaccine can be found at NHS Inform.

To explain how the Flu and Covid Booster vaccination programme will be rolled out to carers in Scotland, the national carer organsiations have have produced a short factsheet.  You can find this here.  This is also available in Cantonese and Urdu

You can also find out more about COVID boosters at NHS inform

Restrictions

All areas of Scotland are now in "beyond Level 0".  A summary of this is available here.  Some protections remain in place.  This includes wearing face coverings in certain settings and on public transport unless exempt and continuing to encourage home and flexible working.  See our face coverings and workplaces sections for more information. 

Proof of COVID vaccination status

For some venues and activities such as nightclubs, concerts and football matches, you are required to prove that you have been doubly vaccinated.  More details, including informaton on how to download your COVID status/pass, click here.


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Help with Practicalities

National Helpline

The Scottish Government have a national assistance helpline for people at higher risk from COVID19 who do not have family or community support. This provides extra support to access essentials such as food and medicine, this includes those who are self isolating to stop the spread of Coronavirus. If you need support, and can’t get this from friends or family, the National Assistance Helpline is there to help and can be reached on 0800 111 4000. (Monday-Friday, from 9am-5pm)

If you are a BSL user or use text relay services click here to read our article on how to access this service.

Local support organisations

Local councils/partnerships with their local volunteer centres have established a range of solutions to help people who are self isolating, who still wish to shield or are otherwise at higher risk and their carers. You can find these by visiting our local support directory or by calling the National Helpline on 0800 111 4000 

Local carers centres and young carers services

Local carers centres are returning to some face to face activities including appointments. They are also still providing support via telephone and email and have online support and activities.  Some have grants and other funds such as the Time to Live fund available to help carers. Click here to visit our online support directory which has details of all centres in Scotland.   Local young carers services are still providing support through phone, email and online and will be able to advise what face to face support they are offering.  The document below provides key contact details for these services. 


Young Carers Services
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Test and Protect and Self Isolation

Testing

Testing for coronavirus is now for available to everyone in Scotland - whether or not you have symptoms. The test determines whether someone currently has the virus or not, and is a key part of the Scottish Government’s Test & Protect strategy. 

Symptoms of coronavirus include: continuous cough; fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater); loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste. More information on symptoms and how to manage them can be found on NHS Inform.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID19), you should click here for advice on getting tested.

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus you can, free of charge, order LFD tests to be sent your home. If you cannot place an order online, phone 119. You can also pick up free lateral flow tests from your nearest from your nearest coronavirus test site or local pharmacy.

Find out more about testing if you do not have symptoms of COVID19, including ordering home testing kits or visiting a test site on the NHS Inform website.  

Self Isolation

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you will be asked to self-isolate at home for 10 days if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or you have tested positive for it. 

If you are a partially or non-vaccinated adult who is identified as a close contact, you will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days, whether or not you have symptoms. This is because they can take that long to develop and you can pass the virus on even if you don't have symptoms yet. If you develop symptoms, you should request a test.

If you are a fully vaccinated adult who is identified as a close contact, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact.

Find out more about the rules for self isolation incluidng support available here.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect is a public health measure designed to interrupt the spread of coronavirus in the community by:

  • identifying people who have the virus
  • tracing those who have been in close contact with an infected person for a long enough period of time to be at risk of infection
  • supporting these close contacts to self-isolate and book a test, so that if they have the virus they are less likely to transmit it to others

How contact tracing works

Everyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be put in touch with their local contact tracing team or the National Contact Tracing Service to help identify who they’ve been in close contact with.

If you have tested positive, contact tracers will:

  • contact you by phone or text message – there’s no need to log in to a website
  • ask you who you live with, who you have been physically close to recently and where you have been
  • decide which of these people might be infected based on how long they spent with you and how physically close they were
  • contact these people to tell them to self-isolate and book a test.    
  • advise you on how to apply for a self isolation grant

NHS Scotland contact tracers will:

  • in some cases, send a text to let you know that you will be receiving a call from NHS Scotland  (if mobile is available)
  • call from a single, national telephone number - 0800 030 8012
  • always introduce themselves, tell you why they are contacting you and address you by your name
  • give you the option to call back the above number to provide reassurance that the service is legitimate

They will never ask for bank details, to make a purchase or to call a premium rate line.

You can find out more about Test and Protect and a range of information including, getting support, informing employers and self isolating by clicking here.  Downloadable leaflets are available in a range of languages. Click here for more information.  Videos are also available in:

Protect Scotland App

The Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus. And if you test positive, it can help in determining contacts that you may have otherwise missed while keeping your information private and anonymous.

Versions are available for both android and apple phones.

Find out more here.


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Highest Risk - formerly called shielding

Advice from 9 August

All areas of Scotland are now in "Beyond Level 0".  At this level people at highest risk if they catch Covid are asked to follow the same advice as the rest of the population. You can see the latest advice for people at highest risk here.

Advice for all continues to be to work from home if you can.  However, if you cannot work from home, advice is provided on workplace safety and changes your employer should make in the workplace to protect you.  You can find this advice here.

Information and support for all people at highest risk

There is also a range of Scottish Government information specifically for people at highest risk to provide advice on a range of topics including work, school and more. You can find this here (this is regularly updated to reflect changes).  

  • Text updates: people at highest risk can sign up for text updates and alerts of the latest news.  You can do this by texting 07860 064525 with your CHI number at the top of your NHS letters or letter from the Chief Medical Officer or go here for further information.
  • Food and medicines: you will still be able to go to their local authority for support for food provision or help with accessing food and medicines. Call the the National Assistance Helpline number on 0800 111 4000.  Tind out more here.
  • Loneliness: Connecting with You is a free service run by the British Red Cross. It’s available to all people aged 18 or over in Scotland who are experiencing issues associated with loneliness. The Scottish Government has funded them to provide support to people who are at highest risk.  Support will depend on your needs and what is available in your area. It could include things like: weekly phone calls, online support, in-person meetings if you are comfortable with that, support for returning to or getting new hobbies and interests and help meeting new people, or getting back in touch with people you already know.  Find out more here

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The Scottish Government has also provided detailed guidance for carers on PPE and when to use it.  Click here to read the guidance.  There is also a useful video on using PPE here.


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Home working and returning to work safely

When the First Minister announced Scotland’s move to beyond Level 0 on 9 August, she outlined that, precautionary measures will continue to be necessary and businesses will be encouraged to continue to support staff to work from home where possible and appropriate.  They have published guidance including developing ongoing flexible working practices, an important support for individuals providing care.  You can find this guidance here.  This guidance includes advice on workplace risk assessments, travel and advice and guidance for those who are at higher risk.


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Face Coverings

It is mandatory to wear face coverings in most indoor public places, indoor communal spaces including retail, restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses, and in workplaces and on public transport.  Read the guidance on face coverings here.  The Scottish Government also recommends that face coverings should be worn when moving around when it is crowded. This is also encouraged for busy outdoor events.

Face covering exemptions

Some people are not required to wear a face covering where they are required by law.  

Children under 12 are exempt from any requirement to wear face coverings, but can, of course continue to choose to do so. 

You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering which may be relevant to the person you care for.  You can find a full list of these here and reasons include:

  • you have a health condition or you are disabled and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently. Individual discretion should be applied in considering the use of face coverings for other children including, for example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering
  • you are communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading
  • you are providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person and where wearing a face covering would make this more difficult. This also applies if someone needs emergency assistance and they don’t have a face covering with them or there is not time to put one on.

Exemption Card

The Scottish Government have launched an exemption card for those who are exempt from wearing face coverings. The purpose of this card is to support people to feel more confident and safe when accessing public spaces and using public services.You can request a free card by calling 0800 121 6240 or on the face covering exemption website here.

Health and social care settings

As you are more likely to meet people at higher clinical risk from COVID-19 in health and social care settings, hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists will continue to recommend maintaining physical distancing from others for the time being to help control the spread of the virus and protect those at higher risk. In these settings staff will continue to wear face coverings and other appropriate PPE and patients and visitors will be asked to wear face coverings unless exempt.


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Mental Health and Wellbeing

WellbeingWe know this is a difficult time for everyone's mental health and wellbeing, and the strain for carers can be even more so. We have developed tips for carers on protecting your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.  Find them here. 

Digital Wellbeing Hub

A new digital wellbeing hub has been set up to help unpaid carers, staff, volunteers, and their families access relevant support, and self-care and wellbeing resources as they respond to the #coronavirus (#COVIDー19) pandemic. Carers can access this at: https://www.promis.scot/individuals/

Breathing Space

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, your GP or a helpline such as Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or NHS 24 on 111.  The Breathing Space website has a range of information about mental wellbeing and links to other organisations.  It also provides information on accessing their support if you require BSL intepretation.

ClearyourHeadTwitterClear Your Head

Clear Your Head has a range of hints and tips to support your mental health and wellbeing during these uncertain times.  To visit the dedicated website, click here.

Other sources of information

  • The Mental Health Foundation provide generic advice including information on e.g. staying connected with family and friends; being active; tips on stress management and on keeping a daily routine. Click here
  • For children and young people, Young Scot have published an online resource containing advice, and also links to other help and support: 
  • For those suffering with an eating disorder, support and advice can be found here 
  • For those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), tips on how to keep well can be found here
  • People with autism or carers of people with autism can contact Scottish Autism who provide advice via email and a call-back service
  • NHS Inform have a range of information about your mental wellbeing including self help guides and links to organisations you can talk to. Click here for more information.

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Short Breaks

Short breaks services have not be running as normal, if at all. All over the world organisations are looking at how they can deliver things differently. Shared Care Scotland have brought together a list of short breaks at home. These include everything from online courses, virtual museums, exercise programmes, read-alongs, and websites for children and young people, as well as support services that are delivering online. Visit the Shared Care Scotland website to find out more.

The Scottish Government's carers information has further details on other support available. This includes grants through the Time to Live Fund available at local carers centres. This is a small grant fund available for people of all ages, including young carers, who are providing care.

Click here for Scottish Government information about these and other support for breaks.

Holiday Voucher Scheme

A new holiday voucher scheme to help low income families and unpaid carers take a break in Scotland, whilst supporting the tourism sector to recover from the pandemic, is now open for applications. 

VisitScotland’s ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme, funded by The Scottish Government, was launched on 13 October

Carers can apply for a break through their local carers organisation. You can find out who is operating the Scheme in your area by clicking here.

Reopening of day services and residential respite

The Scottish Government has been working with local partnerships on the reopening of day services and residential short breaks prior to the most recent lockdown.  Shared Care Scotland has a range of information on this, including latest guidance and advice for partnerships.  This is regularly updated and can be found here.


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Emergency Planning

Planning for an emergency or contingency should you be unable to care during this period is important.  Enable Scotland have produced an emergency planning toolkit to help carers. The emergency planning toolkit will help you create an emergency plan. By answering ‘Who, What Why, Where and When’, you will be able to plan for any unforeseen circumstances.Click here for more information.

There is also further information on creating a contingency plan here.

You can also contact your local carers centre should you need advice and support on emergency planning.  Information on their arrangements and contact details are listed earlier on this page.


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Caring for someone in a care home

For unpaid carers and family who care for someone who lives in a residential or nursing care home, the pandemic has been an extremely difficult time and visiting indoors apart from at end of life and essential reasons has been restricted.  The Scottish Government have produced guidance to help support a return to visiting.

This new guidance is called, "Open with Care: supporting meaningful contact in care homes", sets out what to expect.  The guidance recommends that care homes should enable indoor visiting and outings for residents with their family. Care homes will first need to make arrangements to do this and meet a set of safety conditions.

The Scottish Government have also now recommended that adult care homes can start to support residents to have a ‘named visitor’. This means that when the home has a managed outbreak, it may be possible for you to visit your loved one.

You can read more visiting care homes at NHS Inform.  


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Scottish Welfare Fund and the Self Isolation Grant

Scottish Welfare Fund

Families and individuals in Scotland facing emergency situations can apply for a Crisis Grant from their local authority through the Scottish Welfare Fund. An additional £45 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund has been announced, which more than doubles the current £35.5m Fund. 

To find out more about the Scottish Welfare Fund and how you might apply visit here

Self Isolation Grant

Applications for the Self-Isolation Support Grant have opened for low income workers who are asked to self-isolate and would lose income if they needed to isolate.

The £500 grant will help those who have been asked by Test and Protect to isolate, following testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.  From 7 December, the £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant is being extended to include parents on low incomes whose children (aged under 16) are asked to self-isolate who have to take time off work as a result.

To be eligible for the grant, you must:

  • have been told by Test and Protect to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
  • be employed or self-employed
  • be unable to work from home, and lose income as a result of self-isolation

You must be on a low income or getting one or more of these benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Council Tax Reduction

If you have been awarded one of these benefits, but haven't had a payment yet, you will still be eligible for the Self-Isolation Support Grant. You may qualify for this grant if you're on a low income. This can vary between councils.

If all of these things do not apply to you, you will not be eligible for a Self-Isolation Support Grant. You might be able to get a Crisis Grant if you are on a low income and are having money problems because you have to self-isolate.

If you are contacted by Test and Protect, you will be provided with advice on how to apply.  These grants are being administered by local councils.  

Find out more here.

Low Income Pandemic Payment

The Low Income Pandemic Payment is a one-off payment of £130 to help with increased costs and lost income due to coronavirus.

You could get the payment if you receive Council Tax Reduction in April 2021 or if you do not pay council tax for one of the following reasons:

  • you are in temporary accommodation, including a refuge
  • your home is unoccupied because you are being cared for or are caring for someone else
  • all members of the household are care leavers, are under 18 or are severely mentally impaired

You may also get the payment if you make a backdated claim which covers any day in April 2021. 

Your local council will make the payment if you are eligible  It is expected that all payments should have been made by October 2021.  If you have not received this and think you were entitled, for more information, including contact details for your local council click here.


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Other Financial Help

Turn2Us

Turn2Us is an online directory of grants and other financial assistance available to people experiencing poverty.  They also have information on specific grants to help people during COVID19.  Find out more here

Family Fund

Family Fund supports low income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. They can provide grants for essential items such as kitchen appliances, clothing, bedding, sensory toys and computers. Find out more here.

Money Talk

The Money Talk Team service is delivered by the Citizens Advice Network in Scotland, supported by the Scottish Government as part of Parent Club. It aims to support low income families to access financial advice to maximise iincomes by ensuring that they are not paying more for essential goods and services than they need to and that they are getting all the benefits, grants and exemptions (council tax, energy) to which they are entitled.  It also allows families to access support and impartial advice where they need to e.g. debt advice.  They can be contacted on 0800 085 7145 or click here to visit their website

Benefits and other financial help

Our financial help pages provide information on a range of benefits and other financial help to which you and/or the person you care for may be entitled including carer's, disability and low income benefits as well as reductions in council tax, help with heating costs and more   Find out more here.

Help through local councils

As well as the Scottish Welfare Fund, local councils can also provide advice on a range of money issues including e.g. school meals and uniforms, council tax reductions, help with managing debt and maximising your income.  Find your local council here.


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