Coronavirus guidance for carers

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.

Please note: We are unable to provide any clinical information or advice. Carers must contact 111 or their GP if they have any concerns about the medical condition of the person they care for, or themselves. If you are unsure how the guidance from the government affects you or the person you care for, contact NHS 111.

NHS 111 can offer direct guidance as they have set up an online coronavirus service. Call 111 if 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: 06/08/2020

Our services
How does coronavirus affect Carers Support Centre services?

General coronavirus advice
What is the latest coronavirus guidance for everyone?
What is social distancing?
What is a support bubble?
What should I do if I develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?
How can I get tested for COVID-19?
How can I stay updated on coronavirus news?
Coronavirus travel advice

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
What is the difference between social distancing and shielding?
I’m confused about the latest shielding guidance
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 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?
Coping with heat and Covid-19.

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?
What is available for parent carers?
I’m struggling to balance caring and working.
Where can those without internet access get help?

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?

Healthcare
What should I do about hospital or GP appointments?
I need support with hospital discharge. Who can help?
What are the temporary changes to the Mental Health Act?
What services are Sirona care & health providing?

Looking after yourself
Domestic violence and abuse.
What wellbeing services can I access?
Can technology help with my caring role?
How can I look after my wellbeing?
Are there any resources that can help?
How can I stay connected with family and friends?
I have been bereaved.
Coming out of lockdown.
I need help, but I don’t know where to start.

Our services

How does coronavirus affect Carers Support Centre services?

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

What is the latest coronavirus guidance for everyone?

Updated government guidance can be found here.

Public information materials on can be viewed here.

The Public Health England campaign resource centre has materials including the Prime Ministers’ letters and translations of the main coronavirus leaflet. You can register and view the materials here.

An easy read leaflet on staying at home can be found 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.

What is social distancing?

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.

Government advice for meeting people from outside your household can be found here.

What is a support bubble?

A summary of support bubbles and a FAQ about them can be found on the Age UK website.

What should I do if I develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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 10 days.

  • If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 10 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 10 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 10 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 10 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.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

In England, you can now be prioritised for testing as a recognised key worker if you are an unpaid carer. You can find out more about testing and how to apply on this Gov.uk page.

The latest guidance about the NHS test and trace service can be found here.

How can I stay updated on coronavirus news?

Check your email for weekly e-bulletins from us at Carers Support Centre. You can view all our recent e-bulletins here.

WhatsApp information service: This new free service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus and reduce the burden on NHS services. To use the free service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064 422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

While it is good to stay up-to-date, we advise you limit reading the news to once or twice per day. It can be easy to check the news over and over, and this can cause more stress and anxiety.

Coronavirus travel advice

You can read the latest coronavirus travel advice on the Travel West website.

Protecting the person you care for

What is the government advice for carers?

  • 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.

If you live with the person you care for, Public Health England does not recommend using more PPE than would normally be used. If the person you care for does not live with you, and you are visiting to provide personal care and support, you are advised to use PPE.

If you live in South Gloucestershire, you can access a supply of PPE by contacting cahbrokerage@southglos.gov.uk or phoning 01454 868 201.

Full government guidance for carers can be read on the Gov.uk website.

Who is at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus?

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
    • diabetes
    • 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.

Who is at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus?

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 should be in regular contact with you. You can access the latest shielding update to patients on the Gov.uk website, including easy-read formats and translations.

I’m confused about the latest shielding guidance

You can access the latest shielding update to patients on the Gov.uk website, including easy-read formats and translations. Lots of people have questions about the latest shielding guidance. Carers UK have put together a useful FAQ, answering common questions ranging from decisions around visits if you’re shielding, to the prospect of returning to work. Access the FAQ on the Carers UK website.

I was expecting a letter and have not received one.

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 or been contacted by your GP, you must self register on the Gov.uk website or call 0800 028 8327.

If you believe you have received a letter or text in error, contact your GP or hospital clinician for advice.

South Glos residents: If you have received the NHS shielding letter and are confused or not sure what to do, you can contact South Glos Council and they will help make sure you are getting the help you need. If you have not received the shielding letter but think that you should have, they can help clarify the situation and make sure that you are linked with help you need. These individuals can contact the council by emailing Community.Shielding@southglos.gov.uk or calling 01454 86 4040.

Read more and access an easy read guide to shielding here.

I have received a letter or text identifying me as very high risk.

Approximately 1.5M people with severe underlying health conditions 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.

The person I care for has received a letter or text. What should I do?

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.

What is the difference between social distancing and shielding?

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.

What if I live with someone extremely vulnerable?

  • 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.

I am a key worker living with someone vulnerable. What can I do?

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?
  • Can you be furloughed? Further information on furlough for carers can be found on the Employers for Carers website.

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.

How can I prepare for an emergency?

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.

In order to create an emergency plan that fits the needs of the person you care for, you will need to set out:

  • the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
  • who you and the person you look after would like to be contacted in an emergency
  • details of any medication the person you look after is taking
  • details of any ongoing treatment they need
  • details of any medical appointments they need to keep

Some useful resources for making an emergency plan can be downloaded from the Together Matters website.

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.

South Gloucestershire residents: If you are unable to provide care and the person you care for needs support call 01454 868 007 (for an adult) or 01454 868 008 if you are caring for a disabled child under 18.

For more guidance on making a contingency plan, read Carers UK’s coronavirus advice for carers.

Coping with heat and Covid-19.

Download Public Health England’s pdf on coping with the heat during coronavirus:

Tailored advice and resources

What advice is there for carers of someone with dementia?

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.

The Sirona Dementia Advisor service continues to provided support. Over the period of lockdown, advisors have been and are still working from home or office, phoning referrals and current service users and their families, not visiting face to face. They continue to work alongside other services and health professionals to give individuals and family members the support and care they need during this potentially difficult time. 0300 125 6789

For more organisations who can help dementia carers, see page 6 of the latest issue of Carers News:

The Dementia Wellbeing service offers support and advice for dementia carers. Call 0117 904 5151 between 8am-8pm, Monday-Friday.

Alzheimer’s Society has a useful article about face masks and dementia. It includes tips for persuading the person you care for to wear their face mask.

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.

What is available for carers of someone with a learning disability?

If someone with a learning disability has been asked to come into hospital with suspected COVID-19 (a new persistent cough or fever), please complete a COVID-19 Passport and bring it in with you to hospital, along with your hospital passport. You can download a COVID-19 Passport from the North Bristol NHS Trust website.

Easy read coronavirus resources for people with learning disabilities are available online:

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.

What is available for parent carers?

With schools closed, we appreciate this will be an especially challenging time for parent carers.

  • Government advice for parents and guardians on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people during lockdown can be read here.
  • Government guidance on vulnerable children and young people during coronavirus can be read here.
  • If your child usually receives free school meals, you are entitled to weekly shopping vouchers worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus. Parents will receive the voucher through their child’s school. More information can be found here.
  • NSPCC has 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.
  • Children’s Commissioner has created a downloadable children’s guide to coronavirus.
  • A useful FAQ on the temporary changes to EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) provisions can be found here.
  • Government advice for keeping children safe online can be found here.

I’m struggling to balance caring and working.

Please visit ACAS’ dedicated webpage on coronavirus and employment.

For a useful FAQ on rights to furlough, flexible working and key worker queries, visit the Working Families website.

Further information on furlough for carers can be found on the Employers for Carers website.

Where can those without internet access get help?

We have made a fact sheet of useful contact numbers for carers. We are sending this out to carers without internet access. You can download it below.

Food, money and housing

What are supermarkets doing to help vulnerable people and carers?

Supermarkets and local businesses have adapted their services to help vulnerable people access food and essentials safely.

  • Asda:
    • 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:
    • 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
  •  Sainsbury’s:
    • 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.
  • Iceland:
    • 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 966 6903 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 658 859.
  • Tortworth Farm Shop (near Thornbury) is delivering to customers. Call 01454 261 633 for more information.
  • For Bristol residents, a list of independent food shops (including fruit and veg shops, delis and bakeries) can be found here.
  • Alimento delivers ready meals to people with swallowing difficulties. During coronavirus, they can provide reliable deliveries to your door between Tuesday and Saturday, 2 business days after ordering. More information can be found on their website.

West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has extended the hours when concessionary bus passes can be used.

Time restriction for use of the Diamond Travelcard (concessionary pass) has been relaxed from Monday 23 March, so people can travel free at any time on journeys starting in the WECA and North Somerset areas. This will be reviewed at the end of June. At the moment holders of a Diamond Travelcard bus pass for eligible older and disabled people can travel on any local bus for free after 9am Mondays to Fridays and all day at weekends. More information can be found on South Gloucestershire Newsroom.

Where can I get help with food shopping and picking up prescriptions?

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 normally collect prescriptions for the person you care for, you will not be able to do this if you are self-isolating. Most pharmacies provide a home delivery service. Telephone them to see if this is available.

British Red Cross offers a Support at Home service in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, for those shielding or self-isolating, those at risk of being admitted into hospital and those recently discharged. 0117 301 2601 (Mon – Fri 9.00 am – 4.30 pm)

Bristol:

  • 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 (8.30am-5.00pm, Monday to Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays).
  • Bristol residents can fill out an online self-referral form to receive pre-prepared meals to their home.
  • Foodcycle Bristol is delivering food parcels in Bristol on Saturdays using cycling volunteers. Sign up
    for a food parcel on a Saturday. Referral form link Contact Alex Hatherly alexh@foodcycle.org.uk or Call 0737 786 6335. You can also fill out an online referral form.
  • Food Package Helpline: 0117 325 0450. If you or someone you know needs access to food, please call the helpline. Call any time to leave a message and a volunteer will get back to you between 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
  • Age UK is offering help with shopping orders and delivery and ordering prescriptions by post for people who have no-one else to do this for them. Call The Support Hub on 0117 929 7537.

South Gloucestershire:

  • If you live in South Gloucestershire, you can find your nearest community support group using South Gloucestershire Council’s guide.
  • South Gloucestershire residents can also call South Gloucestershire Council’s COVID-19 freephone to get help: 0800 953 7778 (8.45am to 5pm Mon-Thu and 8.45am to 4.30pm Fri).
  • Bristol and South Gloucestershire residents alike can join the COVID-19 Help, support and volunteering South Glos and Bristol Facebook group.
  • Green Community Travel offers essential travel, prescription collection and other essential items, as well as phone chats for those who are lonely: 01454 228 706.
  • Southern Brooks can help put you in touch with Mutual Aid groups in your area. They are also providing practical support such as shopping, collection of prescriptions, dog walking etc. if it’s not possible for other groups to do this. Call 0777 320 9943 or email communitysupport@southernbrooks.org.uk.
  • If you have received the NHS shielding letter and are confused or not sure what to do, you can contact South Glos Council and they will help make sure you are getting the help you need with food. If you have not received the shielding letter but think that you should have, they can help clarify the situation and make sure that you are linked in the with help you need. These individuals can contact the council by emailing Community.Shielding@southglos.gov.uk or calling 01454 86 4040.
  • You can call, text, WhatsApp or email Healthwatch South Gloucestershire to arrange a prescription delivery: 07944 373 235 contact@healthwatchsouthglos.co.uk.

An extensive list of Facebook support groups for different postal districts can be found on pages 6-8 of Bristol Mind’s newsletter:

If you or the person you care for fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable (click here for the full list) you should have received a letter. If you have not, you can register for help on the Gov.uk website. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care.

I have no money for food. Where can I go?

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.

Where can I get financial support?

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.

Turn2Us is offering one-off grants for people who have lost 50% of their income due to COVID-19. Find out more on the Turn2Us website.

North Bristol Advice Centre is offering telephone advice only for debt and welfare rights. Call 07731 842 763 or 07595 047 278, or email team@northbristoladvice.org.uk 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.

Will coronavirus affect my benefits?

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.

People making new claims for Universal Credit no longer need to call the Department as part of the process. Instead, the team will call claimants if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim.

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. Citizens Advice also has a coronavirus page where you can check if there are any changes to your benefits.

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.

Where can I find advice about housing?

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.

Healthcare

What should I do about hospital or GP appointments?

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.

Anyone going to GP surgeries or hospitals must wear a face covering at all times. This guidance has been introduced by the Department of Health and Social Care to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and keep patients, visitors, and staff safe.

Guidance on how to wear face coverings and how to make them at home are on the government website.

Please note our carers surgeries have been temporarily suspended.

More information can be found here.

I need support with hospital discharge. Who can help?

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
samr@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

Bristol Royal Infirmary: Tracey Lathrope
07557 441 613
traceyl@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

South Bristol Community Hospital: Angela Robinson
07917 880 375
angelar@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

Our team are part-time but working as flexibly as possible, so please leave a message if you can’t reach them and they will call you back. Or you can send them an email.

Due to COVID-19, changes have been made to the hospital discharge process and Continuing Healthcare (CHC) assessment processes. This is to speed up the processes and ensure people are not staying in hospital longer than is clinically necessary. More information on the changes to CHC assessments can be found here.

If you or the person you care for are currently in hospital – or are being admitted in the coming weeks and months – and you would like support, please get in touch. Contact us as soon as possible after admission, or as soon as you know an admission is planned.

What are the temporary changes to the Mental Health Act?

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.

What services are Sirona care & health providing?

The Bristol Palliative Care Home Support Team has been redeployed into the Bristol and South Glos District Nursing Service to support those who are at end of life in the community. If support or advice regarding end of life is required, you can contact Sirona SPA: 0300 125 6789

Updated Contact Numbers for South Gloucestershire residents:

Podiatry: 0300 124 5855

Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Service: 0117 340 8440

To view regularly updated information on Sirona care & health’s services, visit their website.

Looking after yourself

Domestic violence and abuse.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) may cause tensions to rise and domestic abuse and violence to increase. Even during lockdown, if you are in danger in your home, please leave and seek help.

If anyone is in immediate danger of harm please call 999, if you are in the person at risk of harm and cannot speak please dial 999 and then 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.

Domestic abuse resources and helplines can be found on the Bristol City Council website and the South Gloucestershire Council website.

What wellbeing services can I access?

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: mariad@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

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: mariad@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

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: wendyf@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness is also offering phone support and carers assessments. You can contact Margaret (Mon—Thurs) on 07967 811146 or email: margaret.price@rethink.org. Or, you can contact Karen (Tues—Thurs) on 07918 162523 or email: karen.allen@rethink.org.

Age UK is offering weekly social phone calls, free counselling and bereavement support. Call The Support Hub on 0117 929 7537.

Wellspring Settlement & ‘Virtual Hub’ – Wellspring Settlement run 3 activities a week, from mid June 2020, as part of a new 3-month pilot project. Contact Subitha Baghirathan, Wellbeing Facilitator at Wellspring Settlement, for more information and to register for any of the sessions: 07949 740 121 subitha.baghirathan@wellspringhlc.org

Ways to Wellbeing is a free and confidential service that supports people over the age of 18 and living in or around the Greater Fishponds area to find interesting or helpful things in their community. This could be anything from support and advice organisations, to social or activity groups: 0117 958 9360

Vita Health Group, in collaboration with the CCG and AWP, have now launched the new NHS BNSSG 24/7 helpline. 24/7 Support & Connect: immediate emotional and practical support helpline. The service is a free, confidential 24/7 Mental Health and Wellbeing Support telephone line, offering open access to emotional support, advice, and triage. The service is provided by Vita Health Group and staffed by BACP registered counsellors. 0800 012 6549

Can technology help with my caring role?

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.

Jointly is Carers UK’s mobile and online app for carers, designed to make caring simpler by helping you organise medication, to-do lists etc. all in one place.

How can I look after my wellbeing?

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. Get support with quitting smoking here.
  • 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.

Are there any resources that can help?

Online resources:

Helplines:

  • 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 helpline@nacoa.org.uk
  • Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership has launched a 24-hour helpline for anyone struggling with their mental health or worried about someone else’s mental health. Call 0300 303 1320.

Resources for children and young people:

  • Government advice for parents and guardians on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people can be read here.
  • NSPCC has 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.

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:

Download a guide for staying resilient through the pandemic:

Download the latest Carers News and take some time out for yourself:

How can I stay connected with family and friends?

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 call 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.
  • Zoom. Instructions on how to use Zoom can be found here.
  • Age UK’s guide to keeping in touch using video calls can be found on their website.

I have been bereaved.

When someone close to us dies, having to be physically isolated from our families and friends can make
loneliness and grief much more intense. We have updated our Life after caring help and advice page with bereavement helplines, bereavement resources and online communities where you can talk to other people who have been bereaved.

We also have a feature in Carers News about coping with bereavement (pages 12-13):

Coming out of lockdown.

Now that lockdown is easing, you may be feeling a lot of uncertainty. While you might feel relieved or excited, you might also feel less positive about the changes. You may move through a range of difficult feelings and thoughts. You might have difficult decisions to make. You might be struggling with the idea of things going “back to normal”.

Here are some resources that could help:

We also have a feature in Carers News about managing uncertainty (pages 10-11):

I need help, but I don’t know where to start.

If you want to talk about issues relating to your caring situation, contact CarersLine.
0117 965 2200
carersline@carerssupportcentre.org.uk

Opening hours (from 06/04/20):
10am -1pm Monday to Friday
2pm – 4pm Monday to Thursday

Do you know of any resources that could help carers during coronavirus? Please get in touch using the contact form on our website.