With the seriousness of the threat of Coronavirus to our safety and health, the government has been introducing and regularly updating guidance to in order to try and safeguard people and the NHS from the potential impacts of the virus.

This article will summarise the key points of current guidance for citizens and link to their sources. In addition, we have linked some of our own articles that may help you to cope with the measures outlined here.

Whats in this section?

Whats in this section?

The below is a summary of the latest government guidance on staying at home and away from others during this time. The full guidance can be found here.

Current guidance for citizens

Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, now have the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Updated – The Government guidance has now been updated to focus on the next stage of the plan to return to normal life, see staying alert and safe (social distancing) for full guidance.

1. People should still not leave their homes unless necessary for specific, legally permitted purposes, including:

  • Travel to and from work, but only when this absolutely cannot be done from home
  • Going to shops that are permitted to open, to get things like food, medicine, and to collect goods ordered online
  • For outdoor exercise and recreation
  • Medical needs

Children under 18 CAN be moved between their parents homes to continue existing access and contact arrangements.

You may also leave or be outside your home to access critical public services, including social services, victim support, DWP services and to fulfil legal obligations.

These restrictions will be kept under constant review.

Additional police powers

If you, against guidance, leave your home or gather in public places for any reason other than the reasons above, the police now have the power to:

  • instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse
  • instruct you to take steps to prevent your children from breaking these rules if they have done so
  • take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary

Updated If the police believe that you’ve broken these rules – or you refuse to follow their instructions – police officers may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). If you’ve already received a penalty and repeat the offence, the amount will increase to £200 and double on each further repeat offence, up to a max of £3200.

2. Follow updated social distancing guidelines:

  • Stay 2 metres away from other people where possible
  • Avoid contact with those displaying symptoms of coronavirus, these include high temperature and a continuous cough
  • Continue to work from home where possible
  • Wash your hands if you’ve been out as soon as you get home.
  • Public gatherings other than from within your own household, or with one person from outside your household are still prohibited.

This includes all social events, concerts, weddings, baptisms, parties etc. Funerals are the only exclusion from this, though should only be attended by immediate family, and where possible social distancing guidelines should be maintained.

Although more people are now being encouraged to return to work, you should still avoid gatherings at work as much as possible.

Updated: You can exercise outside as often as you wish and you can also sit and rest outside – exercise or recreation can be alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.

Please note the previous guidance on social distancing has now been withdrawn in favour of the staying alert and safe (social distancing) guidance.

3. The following shops and public-facing businesses are currently still ordered to shut:

  • Non-essential retail such as clothing and electronic stores
  • Pubs, restaurants, cafe’s other than for takeaway
  • Libraries, community centres, youth centres
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities
  • Some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
  • Places of worship (except for funerals)
  • Hotels, hostels, b&b’s, caravan parks, excluding for those who are unable to return home, or critical workers

Updated: Public-facing businesses that may remain now open include:

  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Takeaway food establishments
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Newsagents
  • Bicycle shops
  • Home and hardware stores
  • Garden Centres
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Garages
  • Pet shops and vets
  • Post Offices
  • Banks

Online shopping and deliveries may continue.

Travel to work

People should still only be travelling to work in cases where absolutely cannot work from home and their workplace is open, and should still be avoiding the use of public transport as much as possible, maintaining social distancing where it is the use of public transport is unavoidable.

Working in others homes

There is now specific guidance for those carrying out work in other peoples homes, such as:

  • repair services
  • fitters
  • meter readers
  • plumbers
  • cleaners
  • cooks
  • surveyors

Working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes

Getting Tested

Tests for Coronavirus are now available, below we have the latest available information on who is currently eligible for a test, and how to get one.

Who is eligible

  • patients with suspected symptoms of COVID-19
  • essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms
  • people over 65 with symptoms
  • people with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (including construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
  • anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who lives with any of the groups identified above
  • social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) to investigate outbreaks
  • NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance

Arranging a test

Self-referral

You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit, the guide for using the self-referral portal is available here.

Home testing availability is initially limited, but involves a swab of the nose and back of the throat.

The NHS is aiming to return results of tests within 48 hours, or 72 hours for a home test.

Apply for a coronavirus test

Employer referral

Employers can also refer their essential workers who are self isolating for testing, the portal allows employers to securely upload full lists of names and contact details for self isolating workers.

In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk with:

  • organisation name
  • nature of the organisation’s business
  • region
  • names (where possible) and email addresses of the 2 users who will upload essential worker contact details

Isolation – staying safe and well

Looking after your health and wellbeing during these times of lockdown and self-isolation is essential, so we’ve put together some tips and links to our related articles to help you cope during this period.

Getting essential groceries

To support those having difficulty getting food and essential supplies, some shops are setting aside special times for NHS workers, and older and vulnerable customers, including carers, to shop; as well as giving priority for on-line shopping deliveries and other community support. (Some stores may vary, this list is subject to change):

  • Asda – Fridays from store opening till 9 am
  • Aldi – check local stores
  • Iceland – the first hour of opening, every day
  • Lidl – check local stores
  • M&S – Monday and Thursday, the first hour of opening
  • Morrisons – Monday to Saturday, 9 am-10 am
  • Sainsbury’s – Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 am-9 am
  • Tescos – Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 am-10 am (not Express stores)
  • Waitrose – first hour of opening, every day

It’s currently extremely difficult to get delivery slots for online shopping, because of this a number of supermarkets have also set up dedicated slots for vulnerable customers:

  • Sainsbury’s – are currently working on an option for people to register themselves as disabled and vulnerable on their online shopping accounts. Elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers should get in touch on 0800 328 1700 to be placed on the priority list (22nd March)
  • Morrisons – setting up a telephone helpline – wait for further announcements
  • Iceland – Delivery service only available for those over the state pension age, the vulnerable and those who are self-isolating – you must declare this when you place an order.

Some local restaurants have also set themselves up as takeaway or delivery services during this time. There may be local Facebook groups with details or try checking the Websites/ Facebook pages of local restaurants.

Accessing food and supplies if youre clinically vulnerable

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable you should have received a letter from the NHS asking you to self isolate, the letter should also tell you how to register for deliveries of food parcels to your home.

If you have not yet registered for support, you can either:

You need your NHS number to hand when you register. This will be at the top of the letter you have received letting you know you are clinically extremely vulnerable or on any prescriptions.

Staying connected

With so many of us now either working from home or self-isolating, staying in touch with family and friends has become more important than ever, here we outline our top tips for staying connected.

1. Try and regularly contact friends or family either by phone, email or social media, perhaps once a day. Video calling from smartphone apps over WIFI is a great way of staying in touch, the BBC recently released a short video on how to do so with WhatsApp, which is available on most smartphones:

For more information on staying connected, you can also see our article on digital skills for older people

2. If you feel like you need emotional support and cannot contact a friend or family member, there are a number of helplines available:

  • Samaritans can provide emotional support – call FREE on 116 123
  • Mind can support those with mental health problems and advise where to get help – 0300 123 3393
  • Silverline provide a helpline for older people – 0800 4 70 80 90

You can also see our article on combatting loneliness in older people for more information on how to recevie similar support.

3. If you have children, try to involve them in plans for good health during this time, try to explain the fact to them without alarming them with over-exposure, mentalhealth.org has a great article on how to talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic: https://mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/talking-to-children

Want to help your local community? You could sign up for the national care workforce: https://www.carechoices.co.uk/join-the-national-care-force/

If you’re interested in trying to help those local to you, you may want to first read the new GOV.UK guidance on How to Help Safely

Also of note is that Car, Van and Motorcycle MOT’s whose expiry date is on or after 30th March 2020 have their expiry date extended by 6 months, however, you must keep your vehicle safe to drive. So should you have to drive somewhere, you can do so during this period. You MUST still keep your vehicle tax up to date during this time.

Keeping fit and well

Looking after your physical health when you’re only allowed out once per day in most cases may seem difficult, but there are some simple tips you can follow to make things easier and more manageable:

There are a number of simple exercises that can be done from home, Women’s Health recently shared a video on a simple 10 minute home workout for older people:

Some of the examples in our article on fitness tips for older people could also help here (obviously bear in mind the suggestions on group activities are not currently appropriate).

Protect your mental health

While it’s important to keep abreast of the news and up to date guidance from the government during these times, its also important to remember that news outlets can sometimes sensationalise stories to create a larger response, in these times this can be more stressful than usual.

To protect your mental health and manage your anxiety over the current situation, try to do the following:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend watching or reading things which aren’t making you feel better, maybe try deciding on a specific time to check the news each day.
  • Stick to trusted sources of information with regards to situation updates, such as government and NHS websites.
  • Have breaks from social media and try to mute or block topics and hashtags which increase your anxiety.
  • Keep busy, it’s an ideal time for all those things around the house you’ve been meaning to do, you can also see our article on the 6 best brain training apps available, to help keep your mind sharp while you’re stuck at home.

The impact of false information

(added May 5th)

Be careful about what you share online. Things aren’t always what they seem, and there is still a large amount of false information about COVID-19 floating around.

False information about symptoms etc can cause people to panic and act out, and escalate an already difficult situation. Do your research before sharing information with others.

Guidance on protecting those more vulnerable to COVID-19

Those with underlying health conditions making them more susceptible to coronavirus should be receiving a letter outlining the steps they should be taking to protect themselves during these times. These people will be advised to stay at home for 12 weeks from the date they receive their letter.

People in this at-risk group typically include:

  • People with some forms of cancer that require them to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and antibody treatments.
  • Individuals with severe respiratory conditions
  • People with rare diseases that increase their risk of getting infections
  • People on immunosuppression therapies
  • Pregnant women with heart conditions, either congenital or acquired.

These measures are to shield them as much as possible by minimising interaction with others who may come into contact with coronavirus.

Where possible those isolating themselves in this manner should ask families and friends to support them, and use online services. However additional measures are in place to support these people should they not have access to families and friends who can help.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has released specific guidance for pregant women and their families, which can be found here.

From Tuesday 24th March these people can visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable in order to register for the support they need, including food, shopping deliveries and additional care.

There is now an easy read guide available on protecting people more vulnerable to coronavirus, see this here.

See the full guidance on shielding those more vulnerable here.

Care Act Easements

During this time, some temporary changes have been made to the powers Local Authorities have when conducting care assessments and financial assessments for care.

In general terms, they do not have to carry out detailed assessments of peoples care and support needs during this time, they will undertake simpler, more streamlined checks instead. The same applies to financial assessments. This is so that requests for care and support from those isolated at home and in need can be responded to and met more quickly.

However it also means that Local Authorities will be able to charge people retrospectively for the care they receive during this time, should they be deemed able to pay for it themselves under a later financial assessment.

Local Authorities also will not have to prepare or review care plans during this time, as long as they carry out proportionate care planning for those involved.

Finally, Local Authorities now have the “power to meet care needs”, allowing them to, during this time, prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable and at-risk, even to the extent of temporarily reducing or delaying other care provision.

With this issue being so potentially complicated, the full terms of the Care Act Easement are outlined here.

Guidance for carers

Updated 9th April – 10 am

During this time, as with many other healthcare professionals, care workers and family carers have been identified as critical workers, meaning they are being asked, where possible, to continue working and supporting their service users and care receivers, as long as it is safe for them to do so.

What should you be doing as a carer

As a carer, unless you are self-isolating alongside the person you are caring for, it is recommended you do the same. This includes:

  • If you believe you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or someone you live with does (if you are not living with the person you are caring for) try and organise someone to take over for you while you self isolate.
  • Utilising good, regular hand hygiene. Do this when arriving and leaving care receivers properties, when preparing food etc.
  • Using standard PPE where available. If you are caring for a family member you may be able to access these through your GP or local carers support organisation.
  • If carers or care workers undertake cleaning duties, they should ensure they are using household products effective at killing off germs and viruses, such as antibacterials, detergents and bleach.
  • All waste should be placed into bags, then another bag, and put aside for 72 hours before being placed into the normal household bins for collection.
  • With regards to the laundry for people suspected of having COVID-19, DO NOT SHAKE IT. This minimises the potential of dispersing the virus through the air. If the individual does not have a washing machine, put the items to one side and wait seven days after the 7 day isolation period before taking them to a laundrette.

As a family carer, you should also consider the following:

Create an emergency plan, laying out the needs of the person you care for, including setting out:

  • The cared-for individuals contact details
  • Who yourself and the person being cared for would like to be contacted in the event of an emergency
  • Details of any medication the person being cared-for is taking
  • Information about any ongoing treatment they need
  • Details of upcoming medical appointments

Try to ensure it is in a format that can be easily shared with other people who will need to discuss the plan.

If you are struggling to organise alternative care for a loved one while you are self-isolating, try contacting one of the services listed within our Homecare providers section: https://www.carechoices.co.uk/care-location-type/homecare/

You can also look into our Carers section in our Service Directory for additional help and guidance from organisations offering carers respite and support services: https://www.carechoices.co.uk/contact-category/carers/

What else you should be doing as a care worker

Care workers have additional responsibilities during this time (on top of those listed for carers above), which include:

  • First and foremost, any care worker believing they have symptoms of COVID-19, or who lives with someone who does, should, as with all other citizens, follow the NHS advice and self isolate immediately. Follow the stay at home guidance, and do not visit or care for any individuals until safe to do so.
  • Using standard PPE should you come into contact with a care receiver believed to have or potentially have COVID-19, this includes disposable gloves, apron and mask, with a risk assessment for a visor if needed. If you are a formal care worker these should be available to you through your employer/ agency.
  • If you work with multiple care receivers, review your list of and ensure you have their information up to date and are aware of their specific needs and care plans are. These can affect how susceptible to the virus they are. It also means should you become affected by COVID-19, and your employer has to source a temporary replacement to cover your duties, they can be handed over more efficiently.

Your rights as a carer or care worker

As a carer, you may be worried about what rights you have available to you during this time, so remember the following:

Health and safeguarding

Your employer has a responsibility to protect your health and safety while at work. If you or one of your dependents (care receiver) have a pre-existing condition which would make them very vulnerable to coronavirus, you should be able to argue that you should be able to work from home or take some form of leave if your employer has not already asked you to do so.

For more information on this see the government guidance for employees during COVID-19.

Financial support

If you are self-isolating because either yourself or someone you care for either has coronavirus or symptoms of, you may be eligible for additional financial support. The Universal Credit website has a great explanation on what you may be entitled to if you are either off work and not currently claiming benefits, or are already claiming benefits, see https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

Safeguarding vulnerable dependents for keyworkers

Under government guidance, if you are a key worker, you should be able to continue sending your children to school during this time, so you can continue working, however, if you have dependents at home that are more susceptible to coronavirus, you may not feel that is appropriate, and that you should be keeping your children at home instead.

If this is the case, you may need to look into applying for your statutory available parental leave of up to 4 weeks per child per year, in order to protect your family. Its recommended you discuss this with your employer first, to see if they can make other arrangements for you.

Guidance for care facilities

(updated 7th Apr)

The government has also released guidance on how to maintain care in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 for care providers. This includes guidance for:

  • Providers of residential care such as care homes, nursing homes, and facilities for those with disabilities.
  • The supported living provision by local authorities, CCG’s, community health services and providers of care that deliver support within supported living facilities.
  • Homecare provision by local authorities, CCG’s, community health services and registered providers.

Note this guidance was updated on the 6th April, the original guidance on “residential care provision” was withdrawn, and updated guidance on “admission and care of people in care homes” has replaced it.

The new guidance relates specifically to admitting new residents for care during this time, as well as the management of cases of COVID-19 within care homes.

If you previously used the former document to update policies, please check the replacement to confirm you are in line with current guidance.

To access this guidance see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance

You should also check out the latest GOV.UK guidance on infection prevention and control. It includes guidance on dealing with PPE shortages, principles of infection control and how to reduce risk of transmission. (Updated May 5th)

End of life care planning and arrangements

Obviously, none of us wants to consider worst-case scenarios, and we’re not going to draw you into the if’s and maybe’s of what this virus could mean for some us. But if you are in a potentially at-risk group, and haven’t considered any formal plan or arrangements, now wouldn’t be the worst time to get it set up.

One of our more recent articles highlights how to organise a person’s end of life care plan, and features some questions you may not have considered, and some resources that should make setting this up easier to deal with. See https://www.carechoices.co.uk/organising-a-persons-end-of-life-care/

Our Latest News and Blog’s Related to Coronavirus

Disclaimer:

The summaries of guidance and articles listed here are not a full and complete recitation of the original policies and guidance as provided by the government, health authorities and associated organisations. These summaries have been prepared in an effort to highlight key elements of these documents and articles, and bring them together in a single accessible location, NOT to replace them in any way shape or form. Every effort has been made to avoid mischaracterizations and to present these policies and guidance in an unbiased manner. Any failure to do so is unintentional. The full versions of every document mentioned can be viewed in their entirety through the relevant links.