As the situation with coronavirus evolves, it’s important to know what support is available to you as a carer and those you look after.
If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance as they have set up an online coronavirus service. Call 111 if your symptoms become severe and let them know you are a carer. Please only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
Regularly updated NHS guidance can be found on the NHS website.
Information on this page is regularly updated. Last update: 31/03/2020
Protecting the person you care for
What is the government advice for carers?
Who is at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus?
Who is at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
I was expecting a letter and have not received one.
I have received a letter or text identifying me as very high risk.
The person I care for has received a letter or text. What should I do?
What is the difference between social distancing and shielding?
What if I live with someone extremely vulnerable?
I am a key worker living with someone vulnerable. What can I do?
How can I prepare for an emergency?
Tailored advice and resources
What advice is there for carers of someone with dementia?
What is available for carers of someone with a learning disability?
Food, money and housing
What are supermarkets doing to help vulnerable people and carers?
Where can I get help with food shopping and picking up prescriptions?
I have no money for food. Where can I go?
Where can I get financial support?
Will coronavirus affect my benefits?
Where can I find advice about housing?
Looking after yourself
What wellbeing services can I access?
Can technology help with my caring role?
How can I look after my wellbeing?
Are there any online resources that can help?
How can I stay connected with family and friends?
I need help, but I don’t know where to start.
The majority of our services are running and we are developing new ways of delivering support in these challenging times. All our services are free to carers in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. You can find a summary of our current services here.
General coronavirus advice
Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
Updated guidance can be found here.
Public information materials on can be viewed here.
UK government advice can be read in 35 different languages here. (English, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Czech, Dari, Estonian, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Hungarian, Kurdish Sorani, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Romanian, Sindhi, Slovak, Spanish, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese.)
An easy read guide to staying at home can be found here.
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Read updated advice on social distancing here.
An easy read guide to social distancing (keeping away from other people) can be found here.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature of 37.8C or higher and/or new and continuous cough), self-isolate at home for 7 days.
- If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
- If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days. All other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
- For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
- It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Online coronavirus service: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
Sensory Spectacle has created some downloads for carers of people with Sensory Processing Difficulties. These cover hand washing and looking out for symptoms of COVID-19 in people with Sensory Processing Difficulties.
More advice on what to do if you are showing symptoms can be found here.
Protecting the person you care for
- Only care that is essential should be provided
- Wash your hands on arrival and often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Do not visit or provide care if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care
- Provide information to the person you care for on who they should call if they feel unwell, how to use NHS 111 online coronavirus service and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed
- Find out about different sources of support that could be used and accessing further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK
- Look after your own wellbeing and physical health during this time.
People who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) must take extra care to follow social distancing.
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
Government advice for people at increased risk can be found here.
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group must stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. This is called shielding. You can read more about it here.
This group includes:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers:
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
If you or the person you care for are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus, the NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March 2020.
If you or the person you care for fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you must self register on the Gov.uk website.
If you believe you have received a letter or text in error, contact your GP or hospital clinician for advice.
Read more and access an easy read guide to shielding here.
Approximately 1.5M people with severe underlying health conditions will have been contacted by the Department of Health by letter and text, outlining the information you need to follow. Please continue to follow this advice and the regular text alerts you receive too.
More information can be found on the Gov.uk website.
If a person you care for has received a letter or text, the instructions are very clear. They must stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks, except from you as their carer and health and social care workers continuing to provide medical and social care.
However, if you start to display any of the symptoms of coronavirus, you must suspend your face-to-face visits.
If you are caring for someone who has received a letter or text, you can register for further support here: www.gov.uk/cornonavirus-extremely-vulnerable, or call 0800 028 8327, the government’s new dedicated helpline.
Social distancing measures must be followed by everyone. Shielding is a measure to protect people who are extremely vulnerable.
People who are extremely vulnerable must stay at home and stay 3 steps away from others indoors for 12 weeks.
- Minimise as much as possible the time any vulnerable family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
- Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from vulnerable people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure they use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
- If you do share a toilet and bathroom with a vulnerable person, it is important that you clean them every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.
- If you share a kitchen with a vulnerable person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the vulnerable person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.
More information can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Explain to your employer that someone in your household is extremely vulnerable and is shielding. Ask if there are ways they can support you with social distancing. For example:
- Can they change your role so you are working away from others?
- Can they provide protective equipment?
- Can they change your role so you are not customer/patient facing?
There are also steps you can take as soon as you come home from work:
- Remove your shoes, and leave them outside or by the door. Leave any bags and coats by the door
- Avoid touching light switches, door handles etc as you come in if possible
- Wash your hands and lower arms with soap, for at least 20 seconds
- Remove your clothes and put them in the wash
- Wipe your phone, wallet (and any door handles or light switches you had to touch on your way in) with anti-viral wipes if you have them.
- Have a shower with soap, and wash your hair
- Put on clean clothes
This guidance is taken from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust website.
If you are a key worker in an education or childcare setting, the government is advising that these settings allow staff who live with someone in the most vulnerable health group to work from home where possible. Read more here.
We would like to encourage carers to consider as soon as possible, if you haven’t already, what your contingency plans are in the event of you being unable to continue to provide care for someone if you contract COVID-19. Is there a friend, family member or local neighbour, who can support you if this becomes necessary? Please talk to family and friends now about this, to help reduce anxiety during this uncertain period of time.
If you have no external support and you become unwell and unable to care then please call the number on your Carers Emergency Card, but only do so in the event of an emergency.
It’s never been more important to have a Carers Emergency Card. If you don’t have one, make sure you register for one now. It’s also important to make sure that your details are up-to-date.
Bristol cards are administered by Bristol City Council. Apply for this card if the person you care for pays council tax to Bristol City council.
You can download a Bristol Carers Emergency Card form from our website.
Or call Care Direct at Bristol City Council: 0117 922 2700
South Gloucestershire cards are administered here at Carers Support Centre. Apply for this card if the person you care for pays council tax to South Gloucestershire Council.
Use our website to request a South Glos Carers Emergency Card registration form.
For more guidance on making a contingency plan, read Carers UK’s coronavirus advice for carers.
Tailored advice and resources
People with dementia may find it hard to grasp the COVID-19 situation. You might have to remind the person you care for why hand washing is really important, or why they can’t see family or friends. It might be helpful to write down what to say and the points you need to make.
The Alzheimer’s Association has published a webpage of tips for carers of someone with dementia. This includes how to recognise symptoms of coronavirus in people with dementia, and tips to encourage hygienic practices.
Alzheimer’s Society has also published a list of activity ideas for people living with dementia during coronavirus. A carer also recommended this 10 Minute Home Chair Workout For Seniors – her mum who has dementia loves it.
Easy read coronavirus resources for people with learning disabilities are available online:
- Easy read Coronavirus posters from Photosymbols
- A set of easy read Coronavirus resources by Mencap
- A Coronavirus hub by Learning Disability England
- An easy read copy of the ‘shielding’ letter that was sent out to people most likely to be very ill if they get Coronavirus, from NHS England
- Easy read guides to staying at home and keeping away from other people.
- Easy read guide to looking after your feelings and your body.
A version of the AutonoMe app is currently free for anyone with a learning disability (14 years old or older). This includes access to their online library of instructional videos and reminders to anyone with learning disabilities, including guidance on how to properly wash your hands. This app may reduce the need for carers to have close contact with the cared-for person.
To get this free app, you need to fill out a short referral form.
Food, money and housing
Supermarkets and local businesses have adapted their services to help vulnerable people access food and essentials safely.
- Until 9am, Asda is open only to the elderly, others who fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category and their carers.
- Asda has opened elderly only tills – the staff are wearing purple t-shirts to identify themselves. Carers can also use these tills. You just need to explain you’re a carer.
- Morrisons have set up a call centre for those without online shopping. This means that you can order your food on the phone and get it delivered to your home.
- Morrisons have introduced simple-to-order food parcels online, for people who have online access and need an easy way of ordering groceries
- From 8am to 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Sainsbury’s is only open for elderly and vulnerable shoppers – including their carers.
- Customers age 70+ and those with disabilities get priority access to online delivery slots. Sainsbury’s will be contacting their customers who fit the criteria shortly. Elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers can also get in touch on 0800 328 1700 to be placed on the priority list.
- Sainsbury’s also have a click and collect service which means you can order your shopping online and collect it from a collection point outside the supermarket.
- In many stores, the first hour of opening on Monday to Saturday mornings are reserved for disabled and older customers.
- Online orders have been limited to customers who are over state pension age, self-isolating and other vulnerable people, including those who are disabled.
- Tesco is offering a priority shopping hour for vulnerable and elderly customers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9am and 10am.
- Marks and Spencer have dedicated their first hour of trading to elderly and vulnerable shoppers on Mondays and Thursdays. Check opening times for your local M&S.
- The co-op has priority shopping hours for elderly and vulnerable shoppers, from 8am to 9am Monday to Saturday and 10am to 11am on Sundays.
- The Original Factory Shop is giving older customers exclusive access between 8.30 and 9.30am, Monday to Thursday.
- Waitrose shops are opening for the first hour (7am – 8am) for elderly and they have explicitly stated this is also for carers.
- East Street Fruit Market in Bedminster is offering a free delivery service to elderly and vulnerable shoppers or those who are self isolating. Call 0117 9666903 for more information.
- For people in the BS37 area, Jimmy Deane’s fruit and veg store have set up a new home delivery service. Visit their website or call 07989 658859.
- Tortworth Farm Shop (near Thornbury) is delivering to customers. Call 01454 261633 for more information.
- For Bristol residents, a list of independent food shops (including fruit and veg shops, delis and bakeries) can be found here.
Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services, such as supermarket food delivery.
Local community groups can help with food shopping, picking up prescriptions and other local support. Many street and neighbourhood groups have popped up, in response to coronavirus. You can find your nearest group on the COVID-19 mutual aid UK website.
If you live in Bristol, you can sign up for local support using the ACORN online form.
Bristol residents can also call the We Are Bristol hotline for COVID-19 support: 0117 352 3011 or Freephone 0800 694 0184.
If you live in South Gloucestershire, you can find your nearest community support group using South Gloucestershire Council’s guide.
Bristol and South Gloucestershire residents alike can join the COVID-19 Help, support and volunteering South Glos and Bristol Facebook group.
Filton residents can call the Filton self-isolation helpline 10am-12pm and 6.30-8.30pm: 07511 985 130. Or you can email Covid19@facefilton.org.uk
Food banks remain open. If you need a food bank’s help because you have no money for food, you can contact your local food bank. You can find a food bank near you using The Trussel Trust’s food bank finder on their website.
You can also call Food Aid on 0117 352 3011.
If you are being financially affected by coronavirus, you can apply for Universal Credit and receive an advance without physically attending a jobcentre.
You may be eligible for Employment Support Allowance. Normally, you would not get any ESA for the first 7 days from when you want to claim. These are called waiting days. For new claimants suffering from coronavirus or those required to stay at home, these 7 waiting days do not apply. This means ESA will be payable from day one of your claim.
North Bristol Advice Centre is now offering telephone advice only for debt and welfare rights. Call 07731 842 763 or 07595 047 278, or email email@example.com with your name, telephone number, address and details of the advice you require.
For more information about financial support – including benefits, grants and Statutory Sick Pay – please visit the Turn2Us website.
For more general financial advice on how to manage your money during coronavirus, visit the Money Advice Service website.
People will continue to receive their benefits as normal. All requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended. These changes will be in place for 3 months from 19 March 2020.
Face to face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits has been suspended. This affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment, those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit, as well as recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. These changes will be in place for 3 months from 17 March 2020.
If you receive Working Tax Credit payments, your payments could increase by up to £20 per week until 5 April 2021. This will depend on your circumstances. If you claim Working Tax Credits, you don’t have to take any action or contact HMRC – the increase in your payments will start from 6 April 2020.
More information about benefits during coronavirus can be found here.
The eligibility criteria for Carer’s Allowance has been changed in response to COVID-19. The new regulations allow unpaid carers in England and Wales to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if they have to isolate because of it. More details on this change can be found on the Carers UK website.
If you have a place to stay, you must stay at home.
Guidance about housing during coronavirus – including rent, eviction laws and moving house – can be found on the Shelter England website.
Everyone should access medical assistance remotely, wherever possible. If you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and consider whether appointments can be postponed.
Please note our carers surgeries have been temporarily suspended.
More information can be found here.
Our liaison workers are not able to work on wards, but are still able to support hospital discharge remotely. Get in touch using the contact details below.
Southmead Hospital: Sam Radford
07557 418 692
Bristol Royal Infirmary: Tracey Lathrope
07557 441 613
South Bristol Community Hospital: Angela Robinson
07917 880 375
Coronavirus may reduce the number of mental health professionals available to help people whose mental health places them at risk. Some temporary changes to the Mental Health Act may be activated if this happens.
These changes are outlined on the Rethink Mental Illness website.
Looking after yourself
Our wellbeing services – counselling, befriending, mentoring. All these services are delivered by phone and are unaffected by coronavirus.
They aim to give carers emotional support and ‘me time’ and help you become more resilient. This will be a difficult and testing time for carers. It helps to talk. Don’t bottle it up.
Befriending – we will match you with a trained volunteer who can provide conversation, companionship and emotional support. Your volunteer will contact you fortnightly at a time that is convenient for you. Contact Maria for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mentoring – sometimes it helps to talk to another carer. We will link you up with a trained mentor who is a carer or former carer. Contact Maria for more information: email@example.com
Counselling – a fully trained counsellor will give you a safe, independent and confidential space for you to talk about your concerns. You can have up to 6 weekly sessions. Contact Wendy for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rethink Mental Illness is also offering phone support and carers assessments. You can contact Margaret (Mon—Thurs) on 07967 811146 or email: email@example.com. Or, you can contact Karen (Tues—Thurs) on 07918 162523 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rally Round is an app used to co-ordinate caring task between friends and family. It is currently being offered free of charge. We have had positive feedback from carers using this app.
Social isolation, reduction in physical activity, unpredictability and changes in routine can all contribute to increasing stress. Many people including those without existing mental health needs may feel anxious about this impact including support with daily living, ongoing care arrangements with health providers, support with medication and changes in their daily routines.
At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:
- Keep a routine. Make sure you do things like getting dressed, brushing your teeth and eating regular meals everyday.
- Exercise at home by stretching, walking or doing some gentle yoga. You can also go for a walk or jog outdoors as long as you stay more than 2 metres from other people.
- Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, or listening to the radio or watching TV programmes.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
- Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden if you have one.
- Limit reading the news to once or twice per day. It can be easy to check the news over and over.
If you are receiving services for your mental health, learning disability or autism and are worried about the impact of isolation please contact your keyworker/care coordinator or provider to review your care plan. If you have additional needs please contact your key worker or care coordinator to develop a safety or crisis plan.
Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to and who you get information from.
Latest government advice on wellbeing and mental health can be found here.
An easy read guide to looking after your feelings and your body can be found here.
Download a helpful guide to living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty:
Download tips from a psychologist on wellness tips for quarantine:
- Every Mind Matters provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. The site also has an interactive quiz that can give you tailored advice.
- Headspace is offering free meditations to help people deal with the mental effects of coronavirus.
- Meditation app, Balance, is offering free one-year subscriptions to their guided meditation resources. To access their offer, email email@example.com for instructions.
- Mind has published guidance on maintaining your wellbeing.
- Calm has published some free resources to help people deal with uncertainty.
- A list of mental health helplines can be found on the NHS website.
- Youtube has many home exercise videos. A carer recommends this 10 Minute Home Chair Workout For Seniors – she says her mum who has dementia loves it.
- The NHS website has a page of tips and advice for those having sleep problems.
- The Nacoa helpline can help young people staying home with parents who drink too much: 2-7pm via phone 0800 358 3456 and 12-9pm via email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Government dvice for parents and carers on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people can be read here.
- NSPCC have published a guide to talking to a child worried about coronavirus (COVID-19).
- If your child finds it difficult to talk about their feelings, click here for some conversation starters you can use.
Draw on your support systems, such as friends, family and other networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.
Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too.
Here are a few ways you can video chat with loved ones:
- Skype. Watch instructions on how to use Skype here.
- Facebook. If you have a Facebook account, you can use it to video chat. Computer instructions are here and mobile phone instructions are here.
If you want to talk about issues relating to your caring situation, contact CarersLine:
0117 965 2200 (10 am to 1pm)
Do you know of any resources that could help carers during coronavirus? Please get in touch using the contact form on our website.