Here we try to answer some of the key questions that carers have been asking us about Coronavirus.

Last updated 5 August 2020.

How do I protect someone I care for from coronavirus?

The Government is now advising social isolation for the most vulnerable to reduce the risk of them contracting the virus. This is clearly not that easy if you are caring for someone either in your home or in theirs. If you are regularly visiting your cared for we recommend following NHS hygiene guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus. This NHS video shows how to properly wash hands. Government has recently added this guide for unpaid carers to their website.

The government has also issued advice for any households that think they might be infected with Covid-19.

I’m worried that I, or the person I care for, has coronavirus. What do I need to do?

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of sense of smell or taste

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

If you think you might have coronavirus or you’ve been in contact with someone who has it, go to the NHS website for the most up-to-date advice. You do not need to go to your GP or local hospital. There is an online symptom checker here.

The NHS have also produced guidance about staying at home if you think you have the virus or a member of your household is suspected of having the virus.

Public Health Dorset are encouraging Dorset residents to use the NHS Track and Trace Service. Find out more here.

I’m concerned that if I contract coronavirus I will need to go into hospital and there will be no one to look after the person I care for.

If you are concerned that the person you care for cannot manage without your support, make sure that you tell hospital staff on arrival.

As a carer you need to know that if something happens to you, replacement care will be sorted out quickly and efficiently.

We’d advise that you think about creating an emergency plan. Carers UK also have some useful advice on creating an emergency plan.

How do I create an emergency plan?

We advise all carers to create an emergency plan – for you and all those you look after. Having a plan in place can help ease your worries if you are not able to care for those you look after at any point in the future. Carers UK has some useful advice on creating an emergency plan

In order to create an emergency plan that fits your needs, you will need to consider:
– details of 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 – this might include friends, family or professionals
– details of any medication the person you look after is taking
– details of any ongoing treatment they need.

Think about whether there are alternative ways of getting shopping to the person/people you care for by speaking to neighbours, family or friends. The public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home.

We have a downloadable emergency plan that you can download here.

What if I am advised to ‘self-isolate’?

If advice from the gov.uk or NHS websites is that you must self-isolate then you may need to make plans for alternative face-to-face care for the person you care for, for example by calling on trusted family members, friends or neighbours.

The NHS website has useful guidelines if you have to self-isolate.

These guidelines will be particularly challenging for carers who live with the person they care for.

There are some local communities that are setting up support networks so please check your local social media groups and press or contact us for details.

If you have paid carers or other home help coming into the house you must inform them that you are self- isolating. They will need to carry out a risk assessment and take steps to protect staff and other clients from the virus.

If you are unable to arrange alternative care, you can contact Adult Social Care on 01305 221016. Out of hours, there’s the Adult Social Care Out of Hours Telephone: 01305 858250.

The out of hours service:
– Provides emergency cover and access to essential services when our daytime services are closed.
– Gives information and advice and, where necessary, makes visits to further assess needs and provide services.
Our telephone lines are open Monday to Thursday from 5pm to 8am and from 4pm Friday to 8am Monday.

Can I get tested for Covid-19?

Anyone over the age of 5 is now eligible for a Covid-19 test.

Information on where you can get testing, whether in a local test centre or via a home testing kit can be found here.

Public Health Dorset are encouraging Dorset residents to use the NHS Track and Trace Service. Find out more here.

Currently Covid-19 antibody tests (to check if you have had the virus in the past) are only being issued to a selected group of people. You can find out more on the .gov website.

Who can I turn to if I am feeling depressed/low?

It’s important that you get help if you are feeling low and do know that you are not alone.

We can put you in touch with organisations that may be able to help you, please call us on 0800 368 3849.

The Leonardo Trust have set up a carer support line open Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm. Tel: 01202 698325 or Text: 07742 868002. Please call the office number or text the mobile number during the helpline opening hours.

Peer Carer Support for Mental Health Carers Phone or Email – 24/7 Support, information & someone to talk who understands
Call 01305 340045 on Monday, Thursday, and Friday
Call 01202 373305 on Tuesday and Wednesday
Time to call 10.30am – 4.30pm. Voicemail any other time to 01305 340045
Email to carers@dorsetmentalhealthforum.org.uk

Colliton Street Psychotherapy Services are currently offering free short-term counselling for key workers (including unpaid carers) in Dorset as well as a listening service.

Open 24/7, The Samaritans can talk to you during difficult times. Call them for free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

I know someone who needs help – who do I contact?

Many of us have family, friends, neighbours or community groups to help us get food, medicines and essential supplies. For those without a support network, Dorset Council have set up a helpline 01305 221022, open 9am-6pm, Monday-Saturday.

Age UK (North, South and West Dorset) and Age UK (North, South and West Dorset) are coordinating requests for help with issues relating to loneliness and isolation, or support in accessing items such as food, cash or medication. Support is available to all residents within the Dorset Council area.

To request help email: enquiries@ageuknswd.org.uk or call 01305 269444. Each request will be individually assessed and categorised according to the individual’s level of need.

NHS Volunteer Responders may be able to help with picking up prescriptions and/or shopping for you if you are in the vulnerable category. They are also offering a ‘check in and chat’ service to help prevent loneliness. Visit their website or call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).

Citizens Advice – Citizens Advice continues to provide free, independent and confidential advice and information whatever your question. They offer a full range of advice including help with:

• Benefits entitlement and claims
• Debt management and budgeting
• Employment advice including Statutory Sick Pay and rights when laid off work
• Advice for the self employed

Contact the Dorset Adviceline on 0344 411 1444 or email your local branch:

Bridport: advice@bridport-cab.org.uk
Central (North Dorset, Sherborne, Dorchester & Weymouth & Portland): http://westdorsetca.org.uk/
East Dorset: wimborne@eastdorset.cabnet.org.uk
Purbeck: http://www.purbeckadvice.org.uk/contact-us.html

Where can I go to get help with IT issues?

Dorset Council’s Digital Champions can help with your IT questions. If you want to set up Skype or perhaps do your first online delivery. Their helpline is open Monday-Friday, 10am-12noon. Anyone can call the Dorset Digital Hotline with an IT question on 01305 221048.

I’m worried about my finances

Many of you have been telling us you are struggling with your finances. There are several government schemes now available to help businesses and the self-employed. They have information on their COVID-19 website about the financial support that is available during this crisis.

The website Mobilise has also written this really useful article all about dealing with money during this difficult time.

There are other organisations who may be able to help you. Please give us a call on 0800 368 8349 to discuss.

What do I do about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Please refer to the latest Government and NHS advice on PPE.

What information is there for young carers or young adult carers?

Government has issued the following advice to young carers/young adult carers.

What is the latest information for shielded patients?

Guidance for unpaid carers from government – updated 28 July 2020.
Guidance re shielding – updated 4 August 2020.

What’s the latest on face masks/coverings?

As of the 24 July wearing a face covering in shops will be compulsory. There are however some exceptions if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:

– young children under the age of 11
– not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
– if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
– if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
– to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
– to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
– to eat or drink, but only if you need to
– to take medication
– if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
– If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
– If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

If someone in authority – such as a shop assistant or ticket inspector – challenges the person for not covering their face, explain that they have an illness or disability that means that they can’t. That should be enough to stop any further action. A face covering exempt card can be purchased for 55p from the Hidden Disabilities website.

What is happening with Carer Support Dorset services?

As of 19 March

Following the statement by the Government and the increased risk of infection from Covid-19 we are taking the following action:

  • Any face-to-face and community support will be suspended with immediate effect.
  • We are still offering a telephone service (Monday-Thursday 9.30am-4.30pm and Friday 9.30am-4pm). Please call us on 0800 368 8349 or email us admin@carersupportdorset.co.uk if you need support or advice.

The referral process for Care Act assessments is still the same as before however Care Act assessments by Dorset Council will now be carried out by phone, wherever possible.

 

We are acutely aware that this is a very worrying time for you and the people that you care for are at particular risk. We will do all we can to support you at this difficult time.