Coronavirus Advice For Carers

Covid-19 Advice for Carers

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. In light of the recent developments concerning COVID-19 all Carer grouped activity has been cancelled.  Although our face to face meeting and support groups are suspended, we are still available on our main telephone contact number: 0333 006 9711 operational between the times of 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively, you can email our advisors: info@birminghamcarershub.org.uk 

We have recently produced a What IF plan and a What IF plan template. It’s a simple guide which may help families plan and record useful information for emergency situations that may arise, meaning you are unable to provide care. Take a look – it could be a way giving you a little extra peace of mind at this time.

This is an increasingly difficult time for the whole community but the challenges facing those caring for a loved one, are ten-fold. We’re in daily contact with our partner agencies including local authorities and NHS staff.  We all recognise and appreciate the critical role you undertake every minute of every day and we are working together to keep you fully supported and safe. 

Caring in the time of Coronavirus

We understand that your caring duties are very important to you so we’ve looked at the current guidance to try and answer some of your questions, so that you and your loved ones can stay safe in these strange times.

On May 11th, the Government announced its recovery strategy and detailed some steps that it would like to achieve over summer 2020. The Prime Minster gave an update on 17th July.

Government guidance is updated and embraces new topics each day – there is also a Frequently Asked Questions page.  We will do our best to keep up with all of the changing advice, so please check back to these pages regularly.

As restrictions are eased and we can get a coffee and get our hair done, its important to remember that we should still maintain social distancing from people you do not live with or are not in your support bubble. And, there are still a lot of things we can’t do, such as:

  • socialise indoors in groups of more than two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household) – this includes when dining out or going to the pub;
  • socialise outdoors in a group of more than six people from different households. Gatherings larger than six should only take place if everyone is from exclusively from two households or support bubbles;
  • interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship;
  • hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction – even if they are organised by businesses and venues that are taking steps to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines; and
  • stay overnight away from your home with members of more than one other household (your support bubble counts as one household).

When you think about it, this list still seems very restrictive, but that is because the Coronavirus is still about and we all have to stay alert.

Just to remind you, if you live by yourself or are a single parent with dependant children, you can expand your network so that it includes one other household of any size. This is called making a ‘support bubble’.  Support bubbles are a cautious step to help people who may be lonely and therefore at greatest risk of isolation. Once you are in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as in a single household.  Therefore, you do not need to socially distance from people in your bubble, but good hand hygiene and other measures can help to keep you and the people you meet as safe as possible.

You should not change who is in your bubble or have close contact with anyone else you do not live with. This is critical to keeping you, and your family and friends, as safe as possible.

Last week the Government announced the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history, including:

 

  • an expanded flu vaccination programme to protect vulnerable people and support the NHS;
  • Free vaccine to be made available for people aged 50 to 64 later in the year; and
  • Households of those on the shielded patient list eligible for free flu vaccination and school programme expanded to the first year of secondary schools for the first time.

As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know.

Our Definitive Guide for Carers

The last thing that we want to happen is that someone we love gets infected with the Coronavirus (Covid-19). The Government has issued specific guidance for carers, which you can read here.

Irrespective of whether you live with the person that you’re caring for, or not, there will be times when you are out of the house – shopping, exercising, or returning to work for example.  To stay safe, you must think carefully about where you’ve been and who you’ve been close to.

Coronavirus spreads between people who are in close contact through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.  These droplets can live on hard surfaces and clothes and you can be infected if you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.  Washing your hands, or using hand sanitizer after being near an infected person, or when having been outside of the house is essential.

You might have heard that the Government changed its advice on what’s known as social distancing.  The advice is now to keep two metres away from people, who aren’t in your household, as a precaution or one metre when you can mitigate the risk by taking other precautions, such as wearing a face covering. Don’t forget to socially distance when you’re waiting for public transport, or choosing where to sit on public transport.

The Government guidance on face coverings changes from time to time.  You can find the latest guidance here.

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth.  Face coverings are largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth.  Please remember that wearing a face covering is not a replacement for social distancing, or for regular handwashing.

In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • public transport;
  • indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals);
  • shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire);
  • indoor shopping centres; and
  • banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses).

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are advised to be worn in care homes. Individual settings may have their own policies and require you to take other measures.

You are strongly urged not to purchase surgical masks or respirators. These need to be prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments where the risk is greatest.  Instead the public is encouraged to use, or make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that many will already own. Please read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

As soon as you get back to the house, you must wash your hands and ideally change your clothes before you approach anyone you live with.  Washing your hands is simple, but vital – wash using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.  If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Place an amount in your palm and in a washing action, cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.  There’s a handy BBC’s video to watch and there’s more information on the NHS website How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus.

If you think you’ve been in close contact with someone with confirmed Coronavirus, take extra precautions around social distancing and check if you have symptoms using the Coronavirus symptom checker.  Please think carefully about how you are feeling over the next week.

Please be aware that a new Coronavirus symptom has been recognised. So, if you have a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you may have Coronavirus

· high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

· new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

· loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

If you haven’t already, start putting in place contingency measures to support the person you care for. Forward Carers have recently produced a What IF plan and a What IF plan template. It’s a simple guide which may help you plan and record useful information for emergency situations that may arise. Take a look – it could be a way giving you a little extra peace of mind at this time.

Don’t forget that the What If plan needs to cover the situation that you might be ill and the person that you’re caring for is still in the house with you – but you will of course be keeping contact with them to the absolute minimum, to reduce their risk of catching Coronavirus from you.

If you do not live with the person you care for, we suggest you keep in regular contact over the phone, through email or through video calls.  If online communication isn’t possible, never underestimate the value of a regular phone call to offer social contact and support.

Let everyone that helps you care for your loved one, that they should only visit them if they are providing essential care such as washing, administering medication, dressing and preparing meals.  If you have a weekly rota, it might be sensible to reduce the number of people participating.  But please remind them, that they could be needed to step in, if someone becomes ill.

Everyone who visits the person you’re caring for should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival as soon as they arrive. Talk to the person you’re caring for about the hygiene measures that they should expect from anyone coming into their home. Let them know that they should not be afraid to insist that these are followed.

We advise that you make plans for alternative face-to-face care for the person you care for, for example by calling on trusted neighbours, friends or family members. We have recently produced a What IF plan and a What IF plan template. It’s a simple guide which may help families plan and record useful information for emergency situations that may arise, meaning you are unable to provide care.

Also check how the person being cared for feels about any decisions you need to make. Their welfare is of course paramount, but they should be part of any decision made.

The Government has reviewed its advice to those people who were considered to be at the highest risk from getting Coronavirus clinically extremely vulnerable.  Originally, the NHS had written to everyone who they believed to be vulnerable and had advised them to stay at home.

From 1 August the Government has advised that shielding will be paused. From this date, the Government is advising that people who have been shielding adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures. Strict social distancing means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people but you should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.

In practice this means that from 1 August, people who have been shielding can:

  • go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID-secure; and
  • go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but you should maintain strict social distancing.

Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing.

Please be aware that if the person you are caring for has been shielding, any food parcel deliveries they may have been receiving over the past few weeks will cease from August 1st. Please check whether they are able to resume their shopping – some people may not feel confident about going out.

If someone has been shielding, but they will need support beyond August 1st they should call the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, on 0808 196 3646 to be linked with a volunteer.

NHS Volunteer Responders can support with:

  • collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies;
  • a regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks; and
  • transport to medical appointments.

The updated guidance for people who have been shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Coronavirus can be found here.

However, if you start to display any of the symptoms of Coronavirus, you must suspend your face-to-face visits immediately. If this means that the person you care for will be even more vulnerable, for example because they will no longer receive the essential supplies that you bring them, the Government has set up a dedicated helpline for extremely vulnerable people seeking additional care: 0800 028 8327, or you can use the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.

Locally, the City Council has launched an emergency response hub to ensure access to support is available for our most vulnerable citizens.  The service will prioritise those in critical need who have received a letter from NHS England stating they are in a priority group; or those that are self-isolating for shorter periods but are unable to rely on family or friends for adequate practical support such as:

  • emergency food supplies; or
  • social contact.

The City Council will be signposting and connecting vulnerable citizens to voluntary organisations and community groups for support.  You can contact the City Council in these ways:

You might have seen reports on the news that the number of people attending Accident & Emergency have dropped.  Please remember that serious medical conditions such as heart attacks and strokes need to be treated quickly.  Please do not delay contacting 999 if you think that someone in your household is having a serious medical issue.  The impact of a stroke for example can be reduced by quick and effective medical treatment.  Delaying going to hospital for fears of Coronavirus could have serious implications.

Remember also, to look after your own health needs, such as having enough prescription medicines available to you and knowing whether your local pharmacy has a home delivery service.

Stay up to date with our regular carer update.

And, don’t forget, the Birmingham Carers’ Hub is still there for you if you need:

  • advice and guidance;
  • signposting to community resources;
  • a wellbeing check;
  • welfare benefit check and advice
  • support to access grants; and
  • other one to one support.

You can contact us by telephone 0333 006 9711 between the times of 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Appointments can also be arranged outside of these times, subject to availability. Alternatively, you can email our advisors: info@birminghamcarershub.org.uk 

If you are showing Coronavirus symptoms or have the virus, you must self-isolate and stay away from other people, including the person that you care for.

The Government has changed its guidelines again and now anyone over 5 years of age can be tested, if they have the symptoms of Coronavirus.

Carers are classified as essential workers (such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff, including volunteers and unpaid carers.)

This means that if you think you have Coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), you can get tested.  And, if anyone else in your house has symptoms, they can get tested as well.

How to arrange your test:  You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It’s best to apply for the test in the first 3 days as it may take 1 or 2 days to arrange.

You might not get a test if you apply – it depends how many tests are available in your area.  Frontline essential workers such as NHS staff will be given priority.  If you’re applying for someone else and they’re aged 13 and over, you must check that they are happy for you to apply for them.

To arrange your test, you need to go to the government website and make a self-referral.  There’s also a useful Self-referral portal: user guide.  You will be able to choose a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit.

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat.  There are some video clips to show you how to do it.

If you’ve had experience of booking a test, we’d love to hear from you – please let us know how you got on by leaving us a comment.

The Government has recently introduced “Test and Trace” and is asking you to write down your recent close contacts now so that you have them to hand if you test positive for Coronavirus.

‘Close contact’ means having face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes or sharing a closed space – this is why we are advised to avoid public transport.

If you have asked for a test, you may wish to alert the people with whom you have had close contact over the last 48 hours. You should tell them that you might have Coronavirus but are waiting for a test result.  They do not need to self-isolate, but they should take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene, like washing their hands regularly. They should also watch out for their own symptoms.

If you get a positive test result (you are infected with the Coronavirus), the NHS Test and Trace Service will contact you and ask you to share information about any close contacts you had just before or after you developed symptoms.  If NHS Test and Trace Service calls you by phone, they will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000.  Alternatively, they may send you text messages from ‘NHS’.

All information you provide to the NHS Test and Trace Service is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

What this also might mean, of course, is that you (or a member of your household, or the person you care for) could be contacted by the NHS Test and Track Service to say that they have identified you as someone who has had close recent contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.  This will mean that you must self-isolate.

If the NHS Test and Trace Service contacts you by phone, they will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000.  You will be asked to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website.

You may be feeling well and not have any symptoms, but it is still essential for you to follow the advice that you are given.  This is because, if you have been infected, you could be infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Some people infected with the virus don’t show any symptoms at all and it is therefore crucial to self-isolate to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

Self-isolation means staying at home and not going outside your home at any time. If you live with other people, they do not need to self-isolate, but they should avoid contact with you as far as possible. If you do not live with other people, you should seek help from others, or delivery services, for essential activities such as food shopping.

If you go on to develop symptoms, anyone you live with must then self-isolate and you must report your symptoms and get tested.

It is crucial that you complete your 14-day self-isolation period, even if you get a negative test result. This is because you may have the virus, but it cannot yet be detected by a test, so you could unknowingly spread the virus if you leave the house. Other members of your household, however, do not need to remain in self-isolation.

If you do not have symptoms, you must not seek a test, as the scientific evidence shows that the test may not be able to detect whether you have the virus.

The NHS Test and Trace Service will provide a notification that you can use as evidence that you have been told to self-isolate. This notification can be shared with an employer or education provider.

Further information about Test and Trace can be found here.

If you live with the person that you are caring for and you suspect that they have Coronavirus, you should try to isolate them, monitor their condition and prevent the spread of the virus (please use the Coronavirus symptom checker).  Arrange for them to be tested through the government website (because they live with a key worker).

It is very important that individuals with symptoms that may be due to Coronavirus and their household members stay at home. Staying at home will help control the spread of the virus to friends, the wider community, and particularly the most vulnerable.  Everyone in the household (including those with no symptoms) should stay at home and not leave your house for 14 days.

Ideally, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill.  If this is not practicable, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get essential supplies.  Please cover your nose and mouth, and read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

You should try to isolate the person with symptoms from the rest of the household – it is the best way to protect everyone else.  We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home.  But, you should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

It sounds rough, but minimise as much as possible the time any infected family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

Aim to keep 2 metres (6 feet) away from infected people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a separate room where possible. If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household.

If you do share a toilet and bathroom with a vulnerable person, it is important that you clean them every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Make sure they use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.  Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.

If you share a kitchen with an infected person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the infected person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.

Every day, clean all surfaces that are touched often, like kitchen worktops, tabletops, and doorknobs.  Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions.

Wash laundry thoroughly.  If laundry is soiled, wear disposable gloves and keep the soiled items away from your body while laundering. Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.

Seek prompt medical attention if their illness is getting worse – if they feel that they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, or their condition gets worse, or the symptoms do not get better after 7 days – this might include:

  • trouble breathing;
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest;
  • new confusion or inability to arouse; or
  • bluish lips or face.

If it’s not an emergency, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call 111. If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator that they have Coronavirus symptoms.

If you live with the person that you are caring for and you suspect that you have Coronavirus, you should isolate yourself – if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the person that you are caring for – if they are not displaying any Coronavirus symptoms) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period – 7 to 14 days.

If you don’t live with the person that you care for and you suspect that they have Coronavirus, you should try to isolate them, monitor their condition and prevent the spread of the virus (please use the Coronavirus symptom checker).  Arrange for them to be tested through the NHS website.

People who do not have any access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, can ring a new 119 service to book their test.

 If you are showing symptoms (please use the Coronavirus symptom checker) or have the virus, you must self-isolate and stay away from other people. If you live with the person that you’re caring for and cannot move them out of the home, stay away from them as much as possible.  This may seem like a daunting prospect, but keep in mind that this is only temporary.

You should make arrangements to get your symptoms checked, by arranging a test.  You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It’s best to apply for the test in the first 3 days as it may take 1 or 2 days to arrange.

To arrange your test, you need to go to the government website and make a self-referral.  There’s also a useful Self-referral portal: user guide.  You will be able to choose a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit.

The Government has recently introduced “Test and Trace” and is asking you to write down your recent close contacts now so that you have them to hand if you test positive for Coronavirus.

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat.  There are some video clips to show you how to do it.

Results can take a number of days to arrive.  In that time, you should assume that you have Coronavirus and self-isolate.

If you have a positive test result, you will need to stay at home and stay well away from anyone else for ten days if you live alone (or 14 days if there are others in the household – and they too need to self-isolate for 14 days too, even if they don’t have any symptoms).  See the Government’s guidance for more information.

You’ll now need to set in place the arrangements that you have detailed in your What IF plan.

If there is no-one who can provide replacement care and you don’t live with the person you’re caring for, then the Carers Emergency Response Service (CERS) is a possible short-term option for those carers already registered with this service. CERS will only be able to provide replacement care if everyone in the household of the person requiring care is Coronavirus symptom free.

If there is no informal support that can be called on (and if CERS is no longer an option) then Birmingham City Council Adult Social Care should be contacted:

Normal working hours

  • Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
  • Telephone: 0121 303 1234

Outside of normal working hours

  • For concerns about the immediate safety of an adult with care and support needs;
  • Call 0121 675 4806

Adult Social Care have bolstered the telephone response service and rapid telephone assessments are being conducted now.

If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance through their online coronavirus helpline. Call 111 if your (or their) symptoms become severe, and let them know you are a carer.

The Prime Minister has expressed the intention that we should begin to return to work (w/c 10/05/2020).  However, not everyone’s place of employment will re-open at the same time and we’ll have to get used to a “new type of normal.”

From 1 August, the Government has stated that it will be at the discretion of employers as to how staff can continue working safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely, and must ensure workplaces are safe if they are asking you to return, as above.

If you’ve been at home because your workplace closed, you should speak to your employer about their plans to re-open.

If your manager knows that you have caring responsibilities, it will be useful to discuss these again.

If your manager is unaware that you have caring responsibilities, this might be the moment to begin that conversation.

Before you make contact, make sure that you know what it is that you want.  If you have concerns, about yourself, your household or the person you’re caring for, make a note of them so you can refer to it when you’re talking to your manager.  Hopefully, this way you won’t forget anything important!

Part of the “new type of normal” might be that staff have different working patterns so that fewer people attend at the same time.  Although the government guidance is to avoid public transport (walk, cycle or use your car), this may not be possible for many people. Also, if you use public transport to get to work, you must think about how to stay safe on your journey and be aware that journey times might be much longer.  Don’t forget to let the person you’re caring for know that your schedule might change – otherwise they might worry when you’re late.

If you are talking to your manager and you believe that you will have difficulties travelling at this time, then let them know.

From 1 August, individuals will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of being clinically extremely vulnerable. Your employer should help you to transition back to work safely and support you to keep to social distancing in your workplace (if you can’t work from home).

The guidance does not yet give specific advice about employees who are the carers of people in a vulnerable, or an extremely vulnerable group.  This is why having a conversation with your manager about your caring role is very important.

In its Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) the Government does remind employers that employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19). For example:

  • if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed; or
  • to help their child or another dependant if they’re sick, or need to go into isolation or hospital.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.  ACAS have more information online and can help with specific queries by phone (0300 123 1100).  You do not have to give any personal details, but they cannot give an opinion or legal advice.  They will however, talk through your options

The Government has also issued Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do.  This is quite practical and even tries to answer the question: “my employer is asking me to come to work but I’m scared.”

There is also a Government service to “Check if you should go back into work.”

There are only so many things an employer can do, but they should take clear, practical steps to help protect workers and create safe places to work.  Your employer should discuss the workplace risk assessment with you to identify the practical ways of managing risks.

If you remain concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive (t: 0300 003 1647) who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.

Birmingham City Council has some specific web pages with advice for citizens about the Coronavirus.

From time to time we’ll all have a washing machine that breaks down, or a sink that needs replacing.  And, some of these jobs can’t wait until ‘things get back to normal’.

With a little preparation you should be able to get the job done.

We all have to stay 2m away from anyone, not in our household or support bubble.  That includes the person coming into your home.  So be ready – and don’t forget to tell the rest of the household.

If you can make sure that they can get to the part of house that they need to be in without bumping into anyone that would be great.  If you can leave the doors open, so no-one has to touch door handles that would be great too.

You might have been a person who has always made cups of tea, when someone is working in the house…well times have changed.  They would probably love a cuppa, but you really mustn’t hand them anything, that they then hand back to you.  It’s not being rude, its both of you being sensible.

If you need to have a chat about the job, it really is best for both of you to do it outside, or at the very least in a well ventilated area and of course you’re at least 2m apart.

Hopefully when they’ve finished, they will clean any surfaces (the washing machine, the light switch) that they’ve touched, even though they’re probably wearing gloves anyway.  They also need to take their rubbish away with them.  If they don’t clean up, or you’re not satisfied, give everything a good clean yourself.

If they’re not wearing gloves, they should have brought their own hand sanitiser.  If they haven’t please insist that they wash their hands for the full 20 seconds before they move about your house.  If they can dry their hands on kitchen paper, so much the better, otherwise please wash the towel that they use.

Hopefully you’ve remembered to pay electronically!

If someone in the household has Coronavirus, you really should tell the person coming into your house.  Ideally the infected person is isolated in a room that they don’t need to go into.  They could refuse to enter your home, even though your repair is very important to you.  They have their own families to protect and these are scary times.

If anyone in the house has been shielding, then make sure that they are comfortable with the repair being carried out. Remember, Coronavirus spreads between people who are in close contact (within 2 metres) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.  These droplets can live on hard surfaces and clothes and you can be infected if you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.  The person coming into your house might not be aware of their symptoms.

Essential support for Carers

Birmingham Carers Hub Contact Team 

Although our face to face meeting and support groups are suspended, we are still available on our main telephone contact number 0333 006 9711 operational between the times of 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Appointments can also be arranged outside of these times, subject to availability. Alternatively, you can email our advisors: info@birminghamcarershub.org.uk .  Support includes Statutory Carer’s Assessment by telephone, a wellbeing check, welfare benefit check and advice, support to access grants and other one to one support.

We are telephoning more vulnerable Carers to ensure they are safe and well and we are regularly e-mailing Carers a copy of our ‘Carer Update’ with all the latest information. If you would like to receive our Carer Update, sign up here.


Action for Children

We can provide free and confidential live chat with our parenting coaches. You can chat online with us or request a call back when it’s convenient for you. Feel free to talk to us about: Development, behaviour, eating, sleeping, toilet training, work, finances, how you are feeling or about anything else you want to talk about! You don’t need to have a question, we’re here to listen and support you. Speak to us as regularly as you like and continue where you left off. We have a page on our website with a range of Coronavirus advice and support for the whole family, just click here.


Barefoot Birmingham

Barefoot Yoga is currently running online yoga classes and best of all it’s free if you’re a Carer. Sign-up for classes at https://barefootbirmingham.com/online-classes/ and use coupon code BARECARER at the check-out. You’ll receive an auto-email with a link to join the class. No worries if you can’t make the advertised class time, they are pre-recorded so you’ll get another email with a link to watch again within 24 hrs. You can see the teacher but the teacher can’t see you, so feel free to enjoy your class in your PJs.

For the best experience, take your class on a laptop, PC or iPad, not a mobile.


ACP Group – East Birmingham Collective

Our offices will remain open but on a limited capacity. During this period, we will do all we can to ensure our services are still supporting those that are most in need. Face to face consultations are done on a very limited basis and only for those that are in extreme hardship. All other advice will be carried out over the phone. If you want to get in touch for further information, please call us on 0121 687 6767.

ALL our wellbeing activities have been postponed until further notice, so we are keeping in touch with you via our online services which will include our Facebook Page, Women Wellbeing What’s App Group (please contact shabana@acpgroup if you want to join), and twitter (@shabacp and ashianacp). Through these channels we will:

  • Provide sources of information to keep you informed on local initiatives
  • Signpost services that are working collectively to support communities to maintain positive wellbeing
  • Provide guidance on keeping healthy, effective and safe use of open local spaces and tips to eat well and maintaining exercise
  • To keep you motivated, stretched and supple, Kam will be looking to deliver some online yoga sessions
  • Life coaching will resume with Kam via conference call

For more information regarding our advice service please call: Sachyar Mughal on 0121 687 6767.

For enquiries relating to our Women Wellbeing Hub please message Shabana Qureshi on 07941 364 718 or Kam on 07918 077 777 and we will get in touch with you.


Age Concern

We are offering a non-emergency telephone support line on Mondays to Saturdays 9.30am to 4pm to provide reassurance, advice and help to vulnerable members of the community. Wellbeing calls and the delivery of bags of essential food and non-food items to those in need can also be arranged via the support line. A meal delivery service is also on offer from the Communitea cafe in Sutton Coldfield, Erdington and Kingstanding.  All of the above can be accessed by calling 0121 362 3650.


Birmingham Buddhist Centre

Our Monday and Wednesday study groups and our Tuesday and Thursday evening classes have moved online.

If you feel stressed or anxious, sign up for our Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Online course starting on Monday 4 May to 29 June (no class 25 May), 7.00–8.30pm. To find out more email:info@birminghambuddhistcentre.org.uk


Birmingham Mind

We have extended our helpline hours, opening at 9am until 11pm, seven days a week. If you are struggling with your mental health, call 0121 262 5555 or email help@birminghammind.org


Caring for Carers Dementia Support Groups (in partnership with Crossroads)
We are pleased to announce that Birmingham Carers Hub is now offering support to those who are caring for someone with dementia through a partnership with Forward Carers and Crossroads. Crossroads brings vast experience and expertise of running dementia carer groups in Birmingham, having operated four weekly dementia support groups (called DISC) in Harborne, Handsworth Wood, Sheldon and Sutton Coldfield for the past eight years.  Support groups are currently suspended, but help is still available. If you are struggling with trying to explain Coronavirus and social distancing to someone with dementia or you need advice and support, contact our Caring for Carers Dementia Group Coordinator. Call Barbara on 0121 803 1065 or drop her a line on e-mail: Barbara.Hylton-Walker@sandwellcrossroads.org As part of this new service, Carers will also be able to access dementia training  to suit where they are on their individual caring journey. To adapt to the current circumstances, we are looking at delivering this training online, so watch this space!


Chinese Community
Our shopping service for Birmingham’s Chinese community prioritises our isolated/elderly members who have no family/friends network to support them. If you know of any older isolated people in the Chinese community who need groceries or essential household items such as cleaning products, please get in touch.

We continue to send updates to our members via WeChat as well as arranging GP/hospital appointments, interpreting, providing a telephone/WeChat-based advice service and practical support where possible. We’re even running a weekly karaoke singing group on WeChat! If anyone wishes to become a member in order to stay informed, or enquire about our shopping service, please call 012 685 8510.



Disability Resource Centre
We are continuing to contact carers and complete reviews, assessments and registrations over the telephone. We are continuing to provide advice, guidance and information to carers and cared for in regards to benefits and making referrals to other organisations. For further information or to access this service, please contact Vanita on
vlane@disability.co.uk 07342 88162.

If you are struggling with buying groceries, our advice team have put together a list of Foodbanks in Birmingham which can be accessed by clicking here.

If you need support with your mental health due to the Coronavirus, our partners at Living Well are operating a COVID-19 Situational Counselling Service in Birmingham, please call 0121 6631217 to access this service.  Our other services are being delivered over the telephone or online, to find out more, please click here.


Growing Older with Learning Disabilities and Dementia (in partnership with Midland Mencap)
Growing Older with Learning Disabilities and Dementia (GOLDD) is another service that has been added to the Birmingham Carers Hub offer. Through a partnership with Forward Carers, Midland Mencap will help to deliver the new Birmingham Dementia Carers Pathway. Midland Mencap has a long history of working on the city’s G.O.L.D.D agenda, supporting both working age adults with a learning disability and dementia and their family carers as they grow older together. Joining our established Family Carers Wellbeing Service is the new dedicated post of ‘GOLDD Wellbeing Facilitator’. Lara Carter, has been appointed in this exciting new role and will work with family Carers of adults growing older with dementia and our pathway partners, to build a person centred and user led wellbeing and support offer. This is a unique opportunity to work together to co-produce a mix of opportunities for GOLDD Carers to engage with each other and benefit from: information, advice and guidance, health and wellbeing workshops, GOLDD Creative Arts, GOLDD Café, GOLDD wellbeing walks. In addition, there will be a range of accessible and tailored indoor and outdoor activities for Carers, or as a family with the people they care for. For more information call Lara Carter on 07912 268 248


Health Exchange
All team members are now working from home. Business will be as usual but with some adjustments. If you currently or wish to access our services, please ring 0800 158 3535 to speak to a member of our team. Health Exchange is part of the Living Well Consortium which you can benefit from accessing.

If worries around Coronavirus are taking their toll on your mental health, help is available. NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Birmingham Mind and Living Well have formed a partnership to provide a range of mental health support for local people during this difficult time. Whether you are dealing with anxiety and worry related to the virus; experiencing burn-out from the demands of caring; or anything in between: the phone-line provides you with a safe space to talk. To access trained counsellors and talking therapists, call Living Well UK’s dedicated helpline on 0121 262 3555. If you are a key worker, call the mental health helpline on 0121 663 1217. Phonelines are available seven days a week, 9am to 11pm. For young people under the age of 18, sources of help can be found here.


Headway Birmingham & Solihull
We support people with a brain injury, their carers and families, here is information about our temporary revised services. For support, advice, information, family support services and help with finances/benefits or just for a chat call 07925 034 889, Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
Welfare calls: Staff will be contacting existing clients on a regular basis to check if you are alright or if you need any further support/assistance.
Doorstep visits: For those in desperate need, we will provide help with getting food supplies, medication or if you need general help to attend appointments etc.  We will also be able to fetch and deliver items to your doorstep.
Online support: For those who have access to online facilities, keep in touch and support each other through our daily posts and virtual sessions on our websiteFacebook and Twitter pages.


KIDS
KIDS continues to provide a service to parent carers by offering emotional support, advice and signposting via weekly telephone phone contact, texting and email. For example providing support to families who have concerns regarding children needs and appointments, assessments, EHCP, etc.
The team are also providing carers with activities and resources via email that they can do with their children and families at home to help support them to continue a routine.  KIDS will direct families to additional resources of information including resources on the KIDS West midlands Facebook page.  To contact the service, please call 0121 362 4580.

Midland Mencap
We have launched a telephone support service 0121 427 6404, available 8.00am – 8.00pm, Monday to Friday and Saturday and Sunday 10.00am to 4.00pm, email families@midlandmencap.org.uk.

We have a variety of fun online activities each week as well as online wellbeing workshops. Find out more on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


 

YMCA Sutton Coldfield
The Young Adult Carer Service is continuing to contact and support carers via text, phone, email, social media and Zoom chat sessions.
The support aims to provide information and advice in line with the latest guidance on COVID-19 from national and local government, public health. This includes:
  • Delivering food parcels and hot meals door step visits
  • Online 1-1 meetings and assessments
  • Safe well checks contact
  • Make carers aware of What if plans. How important this is at this point for carers to think about and have in place
  • Clarification on Shielding and supporting those with underlying health conditions
  • Encourage simple effective hygiene
  • Self isolating if unwell
  • Discourage watching negative news relating to virus, watch positive educational, fun things to do board games
  • Revisit hobbies interests  like music, exercise and quizzes
  • Pass on information regarding supermarket initiative shopping times venues
Service contact details:
alanburrows@ymcasc.org.uk
07931 277 708

Useful Support for Carers

Carers Card

We launched our Carer’s Card at the end of last year as part of Forward Carers mission to create Carer Friendly Brum. We want to raise the profile of Carers so that you are recognised and valued in the community. This photo ID card is a visible sign that you are a Carer and includes emergency contact information reassuring you that in the event of an accident, the person you care for will receive the help they need.
We have seen a surge in applications from Carers requesting a Carers Card during the Covid-19 outbreak due to the identity checks being made in the community. We’ve received feedback that the card has been shown to the police to verify a Carer’s identity and validate their journey to collect essential provisions. To apply for a Carers Card, ensure that you are registered with Birmingham Carers Hub and complete the Carer’s Card application form here.


Supermarkets Caring for Carers

We have some great news to share with you. Forward Carers has worked with Birmingham City Council’s Commissioning and Resilience teams to implement dedicated supermarket shopping hours for Carers across Birmingham. A number of supermarkets in specific areas of the city are now welcoming Carers as part of the vulnerable access hours. Our Carer’s Card can be used for ID, or you can show proof of Carer’s Allowance or a formal letter from the NHS, Birmingham City Council or Birmingham Carers Hub. The full list of supermarkets, locations and shopping times are available here. Please note, that participating supermarkets are only in certain areas, not every ASDA, Tesco etc is taking part, so please check before you go.

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS Service)

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) is jointly working with partner organisations across the city to support those most in need during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. TAWS will distribute food to those who need it most (individuals and community groups) and provide comfort and support to people who are self-isolating through phone calls and other virtual options. If your organisation is interested in supporting or working with TAWS call 0121 728 7030, email support@theaws.org or message them on  FacebookInstagram or Twitter. If you live in Birmingham and you are self-isolating and need support call 0121 728 7030 during office hours. If you live in Solihull or Sandwell, click here.

If you are self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms and over the age of 65, contact As-suffa Outreach Foodbank to arrange a local pack delivery, you can contact them on 0121 285 2777/07835487124, info@as-suffa.org

The consequences of Covid-19 mean we should take opportunities to widen our networks and make the most of local online groups such as Nextdoor, joining in with Midland Mencap’s online activities or sharing a virtual cuppa with other carers. Opportunities to volunteer are also increasing at this time with Covid-19 mutual aid groups in Birmingham springing up. If you would like to volunteer or need help locally, contact your nearest mutual aid group.


Telebuddy Service

If going online is not your thing and you would like a proper chat, Ageing Better Tyburn operates a Telebuddy Service which is a telephone buddying scheme for older carers. To link up with like-minded people who are self-isolating

email: Leonie.Hammond@compass-support.org.uk

sarah.powers@compass-support.org.uk

or call Leonie on 0774 116 4704

Sarah – 0774 116 4704


Looking for something to do during Lockdown?

How about doing some free carer online training? This can be to help you with your caring role or to improve your prospects if you are looking to work in the future. The training courses are available to Carers in Birmingham and Solihull, aged 19 and over who are unemployed or earn under £17,000 pa. The courses can be completed between 4 and 12 weeks depending on how much time you have available to study. To find out more or to sign up, click here.

Information and advice for parents/carers of children with SEND

These are unprecedented times for all of us but is even more of a challenge if you are caring for a child/ren with Special Education Needs and Disabilities who are now being home schooled (with the exception of a small number of children). Where necessary, carers, therapists or clinicians can visit children at home to provide any essential services.

Birmingham City Council reviews this situation daily and wants to resume all services as soon as possible.The Council’s team are working closely with schools and families to provide their services in a different way to support you and your child/ren. For online support, read these Frequently Asked Questions, and visit these useful websites and links. You might find these top tips for you and your family helpful too.


Birmingham City Council’s SEND Parent Link Contact Line is available for you

to call from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 0121 303 8461 whether you want tips on managing educational activities or just a friendly chat. You can find details of how you can get in touch with their support services on the Contact Us page.

The government has also made clear that while most people should exercise only once a day, close to home, those with health needs or disabilities can continue to exercise more than once and outside of their local area if they need to.

You can find out the latest information, support and advice about Coronavirus and its impact on families with disabled children on Contact for Families with Disabled Children’s Covid-19 (coronavirus) webpages, alongside fun activities to keep children occupied.

Tackling Fraud in Birmingham

Recently, we have all witnessed lots of examples of goodwill with individuals and businesses going the extra mile but inevitably there are those who have used the coronavirus outbreak to exploit others for their own financial gain. Here is a warning issued by the West Midlands Police; and other information about the latest scams.


Government clarifies furlough rules

New guidance issued by the government indicates that some parent-carer employees who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities can be furloughed by their employer. The revised guidance is available at the gov.uk website.


Carer’s Allowance during the Coronavirus outbreak

The government has changed the Carer’s Allowance rules during the Coronavirus outbreak. During the Coronavirus outbreak the government has said that a break in caring can be ignored if it is caused by either the disabled person or their Carer having Coronavirus symptoms. 


Free Money Advice

Birmingham Settlement can be contacted on 0121 250 0765 or via email moneyadvice@bsettlement.org.uk for debt and benefit advice, including:

  • Benefits entitlement
  • SSP (Statutory Sick Pay)
  • Universal Credit
  • Council tax
  • Rent arrears
  • Mortgage arrears
  • Utilities advice—gas, electric, water
  • Hardship grants
  • General debt advice

Pre-Payment Meters

If you or the person you care for are self-isolating and you use pre-payment meters, here’s how to ensure you will have enough electricity. You can phone your energy company, tell them you are self-isolating, and they will send you two weeks’ worth of gas and/or electricity.

British Gas: 0333 202 9802
EDF: 0333 200 5100
EON: 0345 303 3040
N Power: 0800 073 3000
Scottish Power: 0800 027 0072
SSE: 0345 026 2658

We have launched Letters For Loved Ones. This service enables Carers or relatives of inpatients to email lettersforlovedones@uhb.nhs.uk with a message, letter or picture. This is then printed and delivered to the patient on the ward. If they are unable to read it themselves staff will read it to them. This has been very popular so far.

  • We also have Postcards Home – we provide a postcard and pen so patients can keep in touch with their relative/carer by sending them a note which we will post for them.
  •  We have also introduced IPADS, tablets, mobile phones, chargers etc to aid communication with carers/relatives so patients can keep in touch themselves where possible
  • We have moved to a virtual service during the current coronavirus situation (and suspension of visiting on all sites), we are supporting carers by telephone and email.
  • We have set up a Family Liaison Hub so that we can provide routine daily updates to carers/relatives of inpatients.

If you have any queries or concerns and wish to discuss this with the advice and liaison service, please call 0800 917 2855 or email contact.bchc@nhs.net. To find out more and to access hospital phone numbers, click here.

To help stop the spread of Coronavirus, most hospitals have stopped or significantly limited visits.

Check the specific hospital website to find out what their advice is – the advice below was correct on Tuesday 21st April 2020:

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, Heartlands Hospital – Visits from all friends and relatives of patients are currently suspended on all our hospital sites, except in the following circumstances:

· A parent or guardian visiting their child;

· A parent or guardian accompanying a child to any clinically necessary consultations that may still be taking place;

· Birthing partners – during labour/birth only (no visitors allowed on the postnatal or antenatal wards or during appointments);

· Visitors to patients in a critical condition who may be at the end of their life ‐ in these difficult and upsetting circumstances, the ward will contact the patient’s next of kin and we will try our best to accommodate them wherever possible; or

· Advocates/visitors who are required to make decisions on behalf of patients who do not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

On arrival to any ward or department, any of the acceptable visitors stated above should immediately wash their hands and report to a senior sister or charge nurse. Visitors must also wash their hands or use the hand gel when they leave wards

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital (City Hospital) – there will be no general visiting on any of our wards or departments except for parents of children, birthing partners, patients at end of life, and those who are unable to make decisions for themselves (in line with the mental capacity act regulations).

In these cases the immediate next of kin will be able to visit and be with their relative.

In order to help patients keep in contact with their relatives, we have put in place equipment so that telephone and video calls can be made. This is available on every ward.

West Heath Hospital and Moseley Hall Hospital – Along with other NHS providers, please note that we have taken the decision to restrict visitors attending inpatient facilities until further notice.

Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust regret that they are not able to accept any visitors to inpatient areas with the exception of end-of-life care, where one named visitor may be agreed, following discussion with the ward manager.

Nightingale Hospital Birmingham – Due to the priority of delivering care, and the highly infectious nature of Coronavirus, visiting patients at Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

We understand that this is an extremely difficult, worrying and emotional time, but to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones, this decision has been taken to limit further spread of the virus.

Patient advocates, and individuals required to make decisions on behalf of patients without capacity, should discuss care by telephone.

If you unfortunately suffer a bereavement in the coming weeks, then you will need to be aware that there are some new procedures to follow.  The following information is for registrations in Birmingham. Slightly different arrangements may be in place in Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton or Dudley, so please check.

Anybody seeking an urgent registration on religious grounds should speak to their Funeral Director, who will be able to email the Register Office directly and prioritise the request by marking the email ‘Urgent Religious Burial’.

Important contact details for the Registration Service

Email: RORegistrations@birmingham.gov.uk
Phone: 0121 303 1399

For details of changes to registration and bereavement services, due to COVID-19, visit: www.birmingham.gov.uk/news/article/570/update_to_registration_and_bereavement_services

Under Coronavirus emergency legislation, Birmingham now allows deaths to be reported electronically and through specified nominated persons, rather than the next of kin.

All medical cause of death certificates must be completed, signed and scanned to the bereavement office by the hospital or GP. Once the Register Office has received this, the person registering the death must use an online form to confirm their contact details. They will then be contacted by telephone to complete the registration as soon as is possible.

Ordering a copy of a death certificate
 You cannot apply for Death Certificates until after you have had a telephone call from a Registrar, and the Death has been registered.

For up to date information visit: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50038/certificates/746/order_a_copy_of_a_death_certificate

Funerals and filming attendance
For this emergency period and in line with the Government’s requirements for social distancing, attendance at all funerals (burials and cremations) will be reduced to six people, consisting of the immediate family only.

Services will be for a maximum of 30 minutes and you should talk to your funeral director who will be able to assist with the rules about social distancing.

No person diagnosed as suffering from Coronavirus is permitted to attend a funeral (burials and cremations).

Birmingham City Council welcomes the filming and webcasting (using applications like Facebook Live) of burials, but this needs to be undertaken by prior arrangement through your funeral director.

Access to all cemeteries and crematoria
All cemeteries and crematoria in Birmingham are closed to the public.  Cemeteries will be opened for the duration of the Service.

Burial of cremated remains and scattering of ashes
There will be no further bookings for the burial of cremated remains or the scattering of ashes.

Charges for the retention of cremated remains at the crematoria will not be applied during this period.

Cemeteries and crematoria
Birmingham cemetery and crematorium grounds are currently operating restricted opening hours for visitors. The majority are opening between 4.30 and 6.30pm but please check the individual site for more details.  https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cemeteries

 

Coping with losing someone you love is extremely difficult but this is compounded when this happens during a time of isolation and families cannot gather to console each other. If you would like support, you would like support, you can refer yourself to the leading national charity, Cruse Bereavement Care

To refer yourself to Cruse services you can :

–          Call 0121 687 8010– this currently is an answer machine facility, therefore a team member will call back, provide guidance and support and explain their services to you.

–          Email- support@crusebirmingham.co.uk

–          We have a National Helpline – 0808 808 1677

–          National and local websites with information – www.cruse.org.uk or www.crusebirmingham.co.uk

Cruse also offers a wide range of resources people can access by clicking the links

 

 

If a volunteer is helping you while you stay at home, here on some tips on how to stay safe:

  • do not give them your credit or debit card numbers or other financial information
  • ask for ID if someone you do not know calls at your home
  • only share your phone number or address if you need to
  • only give your information on a need-to-know basis
  • do not let them pressure you into giving information
  • remember that volunteers should not enter your home.

If you have serious concerns about the behaviour of someone who is helping you, report this to the police.