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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. It is intended 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

The Scottish Government now has a dedicated page for information for carers here and guidance for unpaid carers providing personal care here.

Scottish Government Route Map

The Scottish Government has published a route map for coming out of lockdown alongside a range of guidance for the public to help keep up to date.  Scotland is currently at phase 3 of the route map.  You can find the latest information "Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others" by clicking here.

This section includes a range of information and downloads with links to organisations who can help with, for example, food deliveries, carer and young carer services support available and information on help with heating costs, the Scottish Welfare Fund and emergency planning.  

Help with Practicalities

National Helpline

The Scottish Government have a national helpline for people at higher risk from COVID19 who do not have family or community support. The helpline can be contacted on 0800 111 4000 between 9am and 5pm.  The service offers help to those who do not have family or existing community support who are: over 70, disabled, require the support of mental health services, are pregnant or receive the flu jab for health reasons.  This service is in addition to localised support already available for people who have received letters advising them to shield themselves. However, any of those in the shielding category who are not yet receiving assistance can also access support via this new helpline.

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

Many local carers centres remain physically closed but are working towards appointment only services at their centres.  They are 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 when they will be able to offer face to face support.  The document below provides key contact details for these services. 

Young Carers Services
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Latest news

On 22 September, the Scottish Government announced additional restrictions that cover all of Scotland.  You can find detailed guidance on what you can and cannot do by clicking here.  In summary, these bring in new restrictions, including on indoor gatherings, numbers of people and households you can meet, advice on avoiding car sharing with non household members and restrictions on opening hours for hospitality premises.  These restrictions will be reviewed every 21 days.  The link is updated every time changes occur so please bookmark. We have highlighted the three changes below to highlight exceptions for the provision of unpaid care.

Meeting others socially indoors at home

The Government has advised that you should not meet anyone from outside your household socially indoors in your home or their home.

This applies to all age groups.  However, if you have formed an extended household, you can continue to meet at home with all members of your extended household.

There are some limited exceptions to this rule. This is includes informal care by unpaid carers.  If you care from someone in a separate household you can continue to do so.  

Tradespeople can still visit homes to undertake work.

Meeting others socially indoors in public places such as cafés, bars or restaurants

You may meet people socially from 1 other household at a time indoors up to a maximum of 6 people, in a public place such as bar, café or restaurant. You should follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.  

No more than 6 people in total (from a maximum of 2 households) may meet at any time, except as explained below.

  • where a gathering is in an indoor public place and is of people from up to two households. If someone from one of those households requires a carer, from another household, to assist them for their health and wellbeing, that carer is also permitted to attend
  • Children under 12 from the 2 households do not count towards the total number of people at the gathering.
  • Where an individual household includes more than 6 people, they can continue to meet as a household even if the total number of people exceeds 6.

Meeting outdoors in private gardens or other outdoor spaces

You can meet people socially outdoors from 1 other household at a time, up to a maximum of 6 people. If you have formed an extended household with someone, they are counted as part of your household.  You should continue to physically distance. 

  • Under-12s do not count towards the maximum number of households or number of people who can meet outdoors. Under-12s do not have to physically distance. 
  • A maximum of six 12 to 17 year olds can meet in outdoor spaces, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required.
  • Where a gathering is outdoors and is of people from up to two households. If someone from one of those households requires a carer from another household, to assist them for their health and wellbeing, that carer is also permitted to attend.

Car Sharing

The Scottish Government are sais that you should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative.  Carers Scotland have sought advice as to how this will impact on carers who do not live with the person they care for.  We have been advised that carers can share a car with the person they care for if necessary but should follow the guidance on travelling in a car with others, which you can find here

Local restrictions

Some areas in Scotland also have additional localised rules above and beyond this, where additional restrictions are in place, for example, in care home and hospital visiting by clicking here.

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Testing and the Test and Protect


Testing for coronavirus is now for available to anyone with symptoms in Scotland. The test determines whether someone currently has the virus or not, and is a key part of the Scottish Government’s Test & Protect strategy. The national carer organisations, including Carers Scotland, has produced a briefing which provides the key points on testing that unpaid carers should be aware of.

The coronavirus test is for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus. Symptoms are: 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.

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, 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 isolate for 14 days

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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Shielding or at Higher Risk

The Scottish Government has information online for people who have been shielding and their carers which includes details of support organisations. Shielding has been paused from 1 August as the infection rate is currently very low in Scotland.  

The pause to shielding is based on the evidence that prevalence of the virus in Scotland was very low at that time. From 1 August, those shielding began to be treated like those who are at heightened risk from covid-19 but who were not asked to shield – that is, the general public health rules will apply, and they are advised to stringently follow current physical distancing and hygiene guidelines.  

Despite changes to restrictions are not asking people to shield.  However, people who were shielding 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 shielding letter or go to for further information.

Those who are shielding are able to return to school and workplaces. The Scottish Government recognised that, even though this may be welcome news, it may also result in considerable and understandable anxiety about how to stay safe and provided a number of resources:

  • Tailored guidance which is broken down by individual conditions, and which will kept updated. Find this here.
  • A range of advice on returning to employment and returning to school
  • A risk assessment tool to help people assess their level of risk and support returning to work conversations with employers. This will be available from 27 July, and will help employers to understand the adjustments they need to make to ensure those shielding can return to work safely.
  • Information on the risk levels of different activities. This includes practical information on how to stay safe during everyday activities like going to the shops, visiting friends and families, or using public transport. Click here for more.

There is a range of information which is updated as guidance changes which can be found here.  Everyone who is shielding should have received letter about the pause and giving advice and details of ongoing support.  

As shielding people are now able to visit shops and supermarkets, the food box scheme ended on 31 July. However, the wider network of support that was available to those shielding will remain. Access to those who have registered for priority supermarket delivery slots will continue and people will be able to go to their Local Authority for support for food provision if necessary. The Shielding SMS service and the national helpline will also be available if you need help by calling 0800 111 4000.  

People who are not shielding but are at high risk

As noted above, for those at high risk without family or community support, a national helpline has also been set up: 0800 111 4000 which will continue to help offer support with practical issues such as shopping and picking up medicines and to link individuals with other support in their communities.

Detailed information has been provided about specific conditions. There are separate versions for those who are shielding and those who are not.  This information can be found here.

If you feel you need more information about coronavirus but do not have symptoms, there is a free general information helpline which can be reached on 0800 028 2816.  The helpline is open from 8.00am to 10.00pm each day. 

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Carers in Scotland can request personal protective equipment (PPE) to support their caring role. The national carer organisations, including Carers Scotland, have produced a guide for carers about PPE which aims to answer frequently asked questions.  You can download this below. 

The Scottish Government has also provided detailed guidance for carers on PPE and and how to access it.  Click here to read the guidance.

In the first instance, you should contact your local carers centre – use our directory to find your nearest centre.

PPE for unpaid carers
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Home working and returning to work

Guidance has been published to support home working.  When non-essential workplaces begin to reopen, working from home and working flexibly will remain the default – if organisations have largely managed to have their staff working from home effectively during the pandemic, they should continue to do so wherever possible. In short, employers should continue to maximise homeworking in their organisations. This is the Scottish Government’s position and will continue to be when we move into Phase 4 of the Route Map. 

To read the guidance, click here

Guidance has also been produced for employers and employees on returning to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.  You can read this here.  There is also a more detailed range of guidance for different sectors that you can read as an employee on understanding what your employer needs to do to make your workplace as safe as possible.

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Face Coverings

In enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household, you should wear a face covering.

People must by law wear a face covering in shops and on public transport and public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports. This applies to open-air railway platforms, but not to bus stops.  You will also be required to wear a face covering when attending hospital appointments or visiting someone in hospital or a care home.  If you or the person you care for are travelling by patient transport services to your appointment, again you will be expected to wear a face covering.  You will also be required to wear a face covering in:

  • any premises which open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, estate agents, beauty parlours. This includes hospitality premises such as bars and pubs or certain hospitality premises with table service such as cafes and restaurants except when you are seated at your table.
  • aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site
  • banks, building societies and credit unions
  • cinemas
  • community centres
  • crematoriums and funeral directors premises
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • museums and galleries
  • places of worship
  • post offices
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points

Schools and School Transport

From Monday 31 August, face coverings should also be worn in the following circumstances (except where an adult or child/young person is exempt from wearing a covering):

  • where adults and young people in secondary schools are moving about the school in corridors and confined communal areas (including toilets) where physical distancing is particularly difficult to maintain; and
  • in line with the current arrangements for public transport, where adults and children and young people aged 5 and over are travelling on dedicated school transport

Face coverings are not generally required in classrooms or other learning and teaching environments. However, face coverings should be worn by adults where they cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more) with other adults and/or children and young people.

Guidance for face coverings in schools can be found by clicking here.

What is a face covering?

A face covering can be any covering of the mouth and nose that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe.  Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. You may also use, if you prefer, a face visor but it must cover your nose and mouth completely. When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash/sanitise your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you must wash the face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of it safely.  Find out how to make your own face covering here.

Face covering exemptions

Some people are not required to wear a face covering where they are required by law.  This includes children under 5 years of age.

You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering which may be relevant to the person you care for.  These are:

  • 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

More information about face coverings and exemptions can be found here.

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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:

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

Over the coming weeks it is inevitable that short breaks services will 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 started to pull together a list of short breaks for strange times. 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.

Reopening of day services and residential respite

On the 3 August the Scottish Government wrote to Health and Social Care Partnerships and others advising that registered day care and stand-alone residential respite services can reopen, subject to being adapted and risk assessed in line with certain existing guidance; and agreement to the approach by the local Health Protection teams and the Care Inspectorate. It was also advised further guidance would be issued as soon as possible and this is expected around the end of August. The letter is published on the Scottish Government website and explains the guidance to be used by registered services.

Click here for Scottish Government latest information on the reopening of day services and respite.

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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, until recently, visiting apart from at end of life has not been permitted.  The Scottish Goverment has produced guidance on the reintroduction of visiting to care homes. This is for homes that have had no outbreak or within which have been declared free of an outbreak by public health. Care Homes should provide families with information on this visiting and what to expect but an information leaflet for visiting can be found here.  The full guidance on care home visiting can be found here

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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

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Other Financial Help


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.

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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