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

Last updated 4 April 2022

For the most up-to-date information on Coronavirus visit the Government’s COVID 19 website pages.

The government have now published guidance for how to protect people who are extremely clinically vulnerable.

Information on the COVID vaccine for unpaid carers

You can find out about the COVID vaccine on the NHS website.

Link to an easy read guide to the COVID vaccination leaflet.

What are the current restrictions in place?

  • As part of the living with COVID plan there is no legal restrictions in place and free testing has now come to an end. However, Public Health Dorset sets out this simple guide:
  • Cancel routine appointments and tell people you’ve spent time with recently if you have symptoms or a positive test result
  • Continue to wear a face covering in healthcare settings
  • Continue to wear a face covering if you’re in enclosed indoor spaces – like on public transport and in shops
  • Use lateral flow tests to check you’re not infectious before visiting vulnerable people or someone in hospital or a care home (tests can be purchased from pharmacies)
  • Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitiser and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result stay at home and avoid contact with others until you feel better

How can I get PPE as an unpaid carer?

Unpaid carers are now able to order PPE as needed through a new PPE portal.

If you require PPE – for example to care for someone who lives in a different household, or if you or the person you care for has been exposed to Covid – it is now possible to order it through a new portal. Visit this website to sign up for the service.

Once you have been signed up, PPE can be ordered after the 7th day from the last order. Supplies will be sent to individuals direct via Royal Mail and, should there be any issues, there is a customer services team available.

How do I book a booster jab?

The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme has started inviting eligible people to come forward for their Spring booster jabs. Don’t book until the NHS has contacted you.

If anyone you know is unsure about having the Covid-19 vaccine we can arrange for a friendly chat with one of CAN’s Vaccine Champions. This provides the chance to ask any questions in a safe space. Contact liz.soffe@can100.org to arrange a face to face or virtual chat for yourself or your community or to find out more.

 What are the changes to testing?

For the general public, Covid tests will only be available commercially. The government said it is “working with retailers to ensure that everyone who wants can buy a test”.

It has published an approved list of lateral flow test providers, which can be found here.

Some high street retailers, including Boots and Superdrug are already selling lateral flow tests, with prices starting at £1.99.

The new rules say that from 1 April in England, free testing will be provided for:

  • Patients in hospital, where a PCR test is required for their care
  • People who are eligible for community Covid drug treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill if they become infected. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms, as well as being told how to reorder tests
  • Care home residents
  • People working in some high-risk settings, including care homes and prisons. These staff will be able to test regularly, without symptoms

You are not legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Anyone who tests positive – whether they paid for a test or it was free – will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious.

You will not have to take daily tests or be legally required to self-isolate following contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

How do I protect someone I care for from coronavirus?

The Government’s full guidance for anyone that is classed as clinically vulnerable is available on their website.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people should take extra precautionary measures if providing essential care, and ensure you follow the NHS hygiene advice for people at higher risk.

Carers UK have some useful advice on protecting the person you care for from coronavirus on their website.

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

Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in adults can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds 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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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. Call the Age UK advice line on 0800 678 1602 to find out more.

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): centraldorsetca.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.

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.