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UK government advice for unpaid carers regarding COVID-19

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We hope you are all keeping safe and well. 

The UK government have provided advice for all of us, whatever our circumstances, during the corona virus crisis. However, here is a reminder of the advice they have given for people who are unpaid carers looking after a vulnerable family member in their own home.

People vulnerable to COVID-19 infection are:

  • those aged 70 or over
  • those under 70 with an underlying health condition*
  • pregnant women

*Those with underlying health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable have already been contacted by the NHS with more detailed advice.

Creating an emergency plan

An emergency plan can, in it’s simplest form, be an arrangement with friends or family should the carer or the vulnerable person become ill. It could also include details of the local authority or professional carers if there are no friends or family who could help.

Clearly write down the following and leave it in an easily accessible place:

  • name, address and phone number of the person you look after
  • name, address and phone number of who to contact in an emergency
  • medication details
  • ongoing treatment details
  • upcoming medical appointments

All the latest announcements and advice about corona virus can be found on GOV.UK

Good Hygiene

Always ensure you follow advice on good hygiene:

  • only provide essential care
  • wash your hands regularly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve, when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin and wash your hands afterwards

Care from a home carer provider

If the person you care for also receives regular care from a home care provider you should have agreed a plan for continuing their care.

Home care providers have been given guidance from the government about how to maintain good hygiene and reduce the risk of infection, but speak to your care provider if you are concerned.

Unpaid carers need to stay healthy

When caring for someone who is vulnerable it is essential to look after your own mental health and wellbeing. Otherwise you cannot provide the level of care you would wish. During the pandemic there may be less access to respite care plus additional worries about the ongoing situation.

Remember to have some daily physical activity and stay in touch with friends and family for support even if they cannot visit you.

You can also find support on the Every Mind Matters website or find your local carers support organisation at Carers UK. Carers UK have trained volunteers who can check in by phone on carers who may be feeling lonely or anxious during this crisis. You do need to be a member but membership is free – details from membership@carersuk.org 

Alternative care in an emergency

For unpaid carers who have to arrange alternative care in an emergency and cannot call upon friends or family, you can find help in the following places:

  • Contact your local authority which you can find here
  • Contact your health care provider which you can find here
  • Find a home care provider here
  • Telephone NHS 111
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