Covid-19 Advice for Carers
Carers Getting Vaccinated
From 15th February 2021 unpaid Carers are included in the next phase of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and will begin to be called forward for their first jab.
On Monday 8th March, the official guidance “COVID-19 vaccine deployment programme: unpaid carers (JCVI priority cohort 6)” was published. For the purposes of vaccine eligibility, it includes Carers are ‘Those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.’
IF YOU ARE A FAMILY CARER, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR GP WITH REGARDS TO ACCESSING A VACCINATION APPOINTMENT.
Eligible Carers will be identified in a number of ways including information held centrally about:
- Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance
- Those identified as being a Carer on GP records
- Those registered with Carer organisations such as ours, working in partnership with local Councils.
You may therefore receive an invitation to book your vaccination very shortly. These invitations will be phased, with Carers receiving invites when there is enough supplies of vaccines at the time of booking.
We are working with local health partners to ensure that carers can be identified and can be contacted to receive their vaccination. Please, therefore, be aware that you may receive a text asking you to book an appointment. You can register with the Birmingham Carers Hub here.
Please do not be alarmed but there are a number of ways in which you might be contacted. You may receive a letter (these are being sent to carers receiving Carer’s Allowance or who were registered as a carer with their GP), a text (carers registered with Birmingham Carers Hub), or a telephone call from your GP (this may not relate to your caring activity, but could be related to your age).
The NHS is strongly recommending that adults should get the Covid-19 vaccine as it is the best defence against the virus used alongside effective social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands. Getting vaccinated means you are protecting yourself and may also help to protect your family and the person you provide care for from the virus.
Find out the answers to your questions about the vaccine here. To watch the vaccine Q&A videos in five South Asian languages, just click here. If you would like to know what the procedure is like when you attend your vaccination appointment, watch this short video.
Caring in the time of Coronavirus
On Monday 22nd February 2021, the Prime Minister announced a 4 step ‘roadmap’ out of Coronavirus restrictions. This started on 8th March and will go on until, at least 21st June.
Step 2 will commence from 12th April. This is more about opening businesses and facilities than any further loosening of social distancing requirements.
Household mixing indoors is still prohibited. Outdoors, the ‘Rule of 6’ still applies.
Please remember that people should still continue to work from home where they can.
Non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will reopen.
Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen – but only for use by people on their own or with their household. Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only.
Funerals can continue to proceed with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
By April 15th, the Government hopes that all adults over the age of fifty and everyone who is in a clinical risk group will have received their first vaccine dose.
Remember, Coronavirus will always be circulating in the community and the possibility of contracting the virus remains, especially if you have not been vaccinated.
Guidance on Care Home Visiting
From 12 April, every care home resident can nominate up to 2 named visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits (and will be able to visit together or separately as preferred). These visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow all other infection control measures (which the care home will guide them on) during visits. Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum. Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands, but should bear in mind that any physical contact increases the risk of transmission. For this reason there should not be close physical contact such as hugging. In addition to their 2 named visitors, residents with higher care needs can also choose to nominate an essential care giver.
If the ‘roadmap’ is still on course, then Step 3 could commence from 17th May (the Government will confirm this on 10th May).
The Government expects that we will be allowed to meet socially outdoors in groups of up to 30.
The Government also expects be able to allow us to meet socially, indoors, in a group of 6, or with 1 other household.
Indoor hospitality, with ‘table service’, should be able to re-open, along with indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas and adult indoor group sports and exercise classes.
Weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events including wakes can proceed with up to 30 attendees. A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted at this step, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
The decision on when international travel can resume will be no earlier than Step 3. At that time it will be dependent on the global and domestic epidemiological picture, the prevalence and location of any Variants of Concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad
Ahead of Step 4, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the Government will complete a review of social distancing measures.
The results of the review will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on 2m, 1m+, face masks and other measures may be lifted.
The review will also inform guidance on working from home -people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.
If the ‘roadmap’ is still on course, then Step 4 could commence from 21st June (the Government will confirm this on 14th June).
Although Step 4 is to all intends and purposes “the end of restrictions”, there will still be four studies underway:
- COVID status certification;
- Events Research Programme;
- a successor to the Global Travel Taskforce; and
- the review of social distancing.
Over time, the Government and scientists expect Coronavirus to become endemic (rather than pandemic), meaning the virus will reach a stable, and hopefully manageable level. It may have seasonal surges.
The Government is working to ensure that the country can live with the virus in the longer-term without imposing restrictions which bear heavy economic, social and health costs. The outcome of the four programmes of work referred to above will inform Government policy on living with the virus.
This is because some measures may be required even after all adults have been offered a vaccine, because neither coverage nor effectiveness of the vaccine will be 100%. As a result, a significant proportion of the population will remain vulnerable to infection, some of whom will also be vulnerable to severe disease and death.
So, until 29th March, we should stay at home. This means that we must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except when we have a ‘reasonable excuse’. A reasonable excuse includes:
- providing care for vulnerable people, to visit people in your support bubble, or to provide informal childcare for children aged 13 and under as part of a childcare bubble, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked after child;
- Work and volunteering;
- buying things at shops or obtain services from a business which is permitted to open; we may also leave our home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
- Fulfilling legal obligations;
- Education and childcare;
- Exercise and recreation;
- Medical reasons, avoidance of harm and compassionate visits;
- Communal worship and life events;
- Avoiding harm and compassionate visits; and
- Animal welfare
Remember, we cannot meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of our household or support bubble.
We can exercise in a public outdoor place with people we live with, our support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person. Exercise should be limited to once per day, and we should not travel outside our local area.
Please remember that children under 5, and a carer for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not counted towards the outdoors gatherings limit when exercising or visiting a public outdoor place.
A “support bubble” is a support network which links 2 households. You have to meet certain criteria to form a support bubble.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one ‘household’. This means you do not need to maintain social distance with people in your support bubble.
From 2nd December, the rules changed to widen eligibility for forming a support bubble. You can now form a “support bubble” with another household of any size if:
- you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support;
- you are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability;
- your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2nd December 2020;
- your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2nd December 2020;
- you are a child aged 16 or over living alone or with other children and without any adults; or
- you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12th June 2020
You should not form a support bubble with a household that is already part of another support bubble.
It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.
A “childcare bubble” is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children under 14. All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement. ‘Informal’ childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered.
Members of either household can provide childcare in a home or public place. This includes overnight care.
You can only have one “childcare bubble” with one other household. This means no household should be part of more than one “childcare bubble”.
“Childcare bubbles” are different from “support bubbles”.
If you’re eligible to form a childcare bubble and eligible to form a support bubble, you can form one childcare bubble and one support bubble with different households. You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble and avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.
Another exemption for carers is travelling. As a rule, we should stay at home, or at least stay local. However, if you need to travel further afield to undertake caring duties, this should be seen as a ‘reasonable excuse’.
Another change since 20th December 2020 is that there is an exemption to allow carers to access respite from family and friends where this is reasonably necessary for the continued provision of care to a vulnerable or disabled person or someone with an underlying health condition.
This means that during the current restrictions you can arrange with family or friends for someone else to provide the care you normally provide to the person you care for, to enable you to take a break. This includes someone coming into the home of the person you care for, which can be overnight. It also means the person you care for can go to someone else’s home to receive care to give you a break from caring, which can also be overnight. In all these examples, the arrangement must be reasonably necessary for the purpose of respite care being provided for the person being cared for.
The number of adults in either household does not matter when making arrangements for respite care, provided the arrangements are reasonably necessary and amount to respite care provided to the person being cared for. What is suitable for you, the person you care for and the person providing the alternative care will depend on your own circumstances.
Although accommodation venues such as hotels are closed, they can open to allow for a carer of a vulnerable or disabled person to have respite where necessary.
Why not register for a Carers Friendly Card to show that you have caring responsibilities.
Visiting loved ones in a care home setting
The guidance now says that visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed.
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.