Carers and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Your questions answered

Following the recent changes in Government guidance on Coronavirus, the message to “stay at home” has ended.  The new guidance means you can meet indoors in a group of up to six people or a group of any size from two households and you can meet outside in a group with up to 30 people. Some Covid restrictions remain in place so we must continue to exercise caution. Please see the Government website for more guidance. 

You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Visiting the person you care for

You can still visit the person you care for, but to help protect the most vulnerable, you are encourage to follow the meeting people guidance to help keep you and others safe from the virus. If you are providing care and/or assistance, gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors can take place for the purposes of providing support, please see the guidance for further clarification.

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.

Keeping safe if you live with the person you care for

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 the importance of wearing face masks when you 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 go out, but you may still want to minimise how often you do this.

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

What to do if you or the person you care for displays symptoms

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 symptoms.

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

Latest guidance for carers' respite

Can the carer stay at another person’s home for respite while the cared for person has care at home?

Yes, they can, however, only in certain circumstances. The new lockdown guidance sets out what are reasonable grounds for staying overnight away from home.

An example of when this would be permitted is if you look after someone with a disability or care for a child under five who has a disability. You can form a “support bubble” or “linked household” with another family or a friend and you can stay over at each other’s houses overnight. This means that carers who meet these criteria can have a break by staying overnight in the linked household, whilst a family member or friend from the linked household provides support to the cared for in their absence.

It also means the person you care for can go to someone else's home to receive care to give you a break from caring, which can also be overnight. In these examples, the arrangement must be reasonably necessary for the purpose of respite care being provided for the person being cared for. Please refer to the guidance.

Can several people from the same household provide support?

The guidance on support bubbles shows that in the circumstances above you can make a support bubble with one household of any size as long as you meet one of the criteria, which includes being the only adult who does not need continuous care in your own household. As such several people from the same household could provide support.

You can choose to change your linked household, but you must end being linked with another household and there must be a period of 10 days wait before you take steps to link to a new household.

The only exception to the rule of not being linked to any other household is for informal childcare.

So, it is possible to be linked to one household who could provide respite but also linked to another household for informal childcare.

Please take every precaution possible, such as wearing a face covering and using stringent hygiene measures. We recommend that you have regular lateral flow tests, which will highlight if you or anyone in your bubble, have COVID-19 even if you are showing no symptoms. There are several sites across the city that are providing these tests.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Support

We also appreciate that the pandemic can impact in people’s mental health and wellbeing. With this in mind here are some services that you may find helpful for you as a carer but also for the person you care for:

Carers Trust Heart of England are offering numerous groups and sessions, please contact 024 7663 2972 or email.

Coventry Safe Haven. Provide support for people 18+ who feel distressed and overwhelmed, Monday – Sunday 6pm – 11pm. Please contact 07921 876 065 or email. They also offer one to one sessions as well as group support.

The Recovery and Wellbeing Academy offer a wide range of free courses and workshops aimed to support people in recognising their skills, abilities, develop confidence and ways of managing difficult periods.

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. 

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.

Planning for a change in situation

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 are being regularly reviewed.

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