Carers and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Your questions answered

Following the recent changes in Government guidance on Coronavirus, the recommendations are that individuals should remain at home, except for specific purposes, as this will help to reduce the spread of the infection.

Can I still visit the person I care for?

You can still visit the person you care for, but to help protect the most vulnerable, you are encouraged to follow the meeting people guidance to help keep you and others safe from the virus. 

If you are visiting someone you care for, we recommend you follow the NHS guidance on hygiene 

You might also want to think of equipment that might help the person you care for manage independently during this time. The Carers Trust Heart of England can offer information and advice about equipment - 024 7663 2972.

I live with the person I care for, how do I keep us safe and what happens if either of us display symptoms?

As Government guidance around Coronavirus changes, it may not be an option for you to remain at home, for example, you are a key worker or you have been asked by your employer to return to work. Make sure your employee knows your circumstances, they may be able to consider adjustments to your role to help you to continue to care.

When you leave your home you should follow the guidance on staying safe outside your home.

Included in this guidance, it states how important the wearing of face masks are when we are out in the community. However, for some this is not possible: information regarding face mask exemption cards.

Plan an online shopping delivery or ask a friend, or relative to pick up the essentials for you. Remember you can still go out, but you will want to minimise how many times you do this.

Take additional precautions within the household, such as wiping down surfaces and washing your hands regularly.

If either you or the person you care for displays symptoms you must follow the Government’s latest Stay at home guidance.  

Do not visit the GP or the hospital/walk-in centre if you think you have the symptoms.

There are also rules around self-isolation when symptoms are present within a household.

I provide essential care for my relative, what happens if I start to display symptoms?

You must not continue to provide care during this period of time as this might place you and the person you care for at risk.

If you do not live with the person you care for, consider any other friends or relatives that can provide the support you ordinarily provide but these cannot be people that you have been in close contact with or display symptoms.

If you do live with the person you care for you need to consider the safest options within the household to maintain distance. This may be hard to do in practice and you might need to explore other living arrangements. The Government has advice on this on their website.

You can still keep in touch with the person you care for and consider making regular phone calls.

If there is no-one who can provide support during this time then we recommend you contact Adult Social Care Direct on 024 7683 3003 and they will explore with you what essential support is required.  

Am I eligible for testing as an unpaid carer? 

Yes, as of 4 May, unpaid carers were classified as "essential workers" and seen as a priority and are eligible to receive a test. This also means people living within your household, who start to display symptoms are eligible.  Testing is most effective within 3 days of developing symptoms. You can apply online for a test. 

If you are getting a test for yourself or someone you live with, you all must self-isolate until you get the test results.

How can I plan if our situation changes?

Our recommendation is that you try and plan for any changes in your circumstances now.  This might be writing down key contacts and collating a list of the medication the person you care for is taking.

The Carers Trust Heart of England – Carers Response and Emergency Support Service (CRESS) are encouraging all carers to register with this service during this time. They can help you discuss your wider support networks and write a contingency plan if your situation is to change. They can also provide care for a period of up to 72 hours if you are unable to provide care due to a medical emergency such as a hospital admission, this will help others plan for longer term support. You can contact them on 024 7625 8816 option 1.

The person I care for receives paid care? What will happen?

If you are receiving care provided either by the Local Authority, the NHS, or support you organise privately, then you should have received communication around this. Adult Social Care are maintaining essential care during this period of time. Some services have had to be temporarily postponed, such as day activities and respite provision. This is to adhere to government guidance, although this is being currently reviewed.

If people provide care within your home, they will be taking additional precautions, such as washing their hands when they enter and leave your property, it’s important you allow them to do this. They will also be wearing Personal Protective Equipment to help keep you, your loved one and themselves safe.

If anyone within the household is unwell and displaying symptoms you must let the care provider know so that they can take all necessary precautions to reduce any risks. You must do this in advance of them visiting.

If you’ve decided you’d rather continue to provide the support yourself during this time, please ensure that you tell your care provider immediately and then inform Coventry City Council, by contacting Adult Social Care direct on 024 7683 3003 or [email protected]

The person I care for doesn’t understand what’s going on, how do I help them?

This is a really difficult question and one that is not easy to answer. We know that for a lot of people they will not understand the precautions that need to be taken, so might struggle with the idea of staying at home or not following their usual routine. We’ve found some good guidance that might help:

I claim Carers Allowance what will happen if I'm not able to care for the person I'm looking after?  

To help unpaid carers during the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government has introduced a new aspect to the eligibility criteria for claiming Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for people caring 35 hours or more per week.

The new regulations, which came into force Monday 30 March 2020, 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.

The Government has also confirmed that providing emotional support counts towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week – an issue which has been concerning many carers.

These measures will be reviewed in six months.

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