Advice and Information

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What can older or vulnerable people do to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus may feel daunting, especially for older people, people with health problems and pregnant women. Vulnerable groups such as people aged 70 and over, those with long term health conditions and pregnant women should continue to take particular care and minimise contact with others outside of their household. Knowing what we can do and can’t do is important to help control the spread of the virus.

Social distancing

See Government guidance on social distancing.

Limits on the number of people you can see socially are changing. From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors.

From 14 September - when the new rules apply - it will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble). The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200. Education and work settings are unaffected, and organised team sports will still be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. 

More advice on meeting others safely

Here are other things you can do to help you stay safe:

  • HANDS – Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
  • FACE – Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.

People who are shielding are advised to stay safe and also take extra care to minimise contact with others. See our specific shielding and protecting people on medical grounds page as well as Government guidance on shielding guidelines for more information

Self isolating

People who have coronavirus symptoms are asked to self-isolate  to protect others. The most common symptoms are recent onset of any of the following - a new continuous cough (coughing repeatedly), a high temperature where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back or a loss of, or change in your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

If you have any of these symptoms, no matter how mild, stay at home for 10 days, as the self-isolation period has been extended from 7 days to 10 days.

You should also get yourself tested so that people you have been in contact with can be traced and advised to isolate as well.

If you live with other people and anyone in your support bubble, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. This means completely avoiding work, school, other public places and not using public transport or taxis. You should not even go outside for exercise. This also means asking others to help buy food and other essentials. 

See Government guidance on self-isolating guidelines



Face covering exemption card

It is now mandatory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets and other enclosed spaces such as libraries, community centres and places of worship unless you are exempt for health, age or equality reasons.  

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.

Link to exemption card and badge.

Exception card is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.

If you have a disability or illness which isn’t easily apparent to others, you may decide to wear a sunflower lanyard to compliment your exemption card. This lanyard signals allows everyone with hidden disabilities to choose to be visible when they need to be. They are free from participating supermarkets (ask at customer services) and available to buy online from Hidden Disabilities.


Who is eligible to be exempt from wearing a face covering?

You are exempt from wearing a face covering if you:

  • Are aged 11 and below (children under the age of three must not wear face coverings or masks, they are potentially dangerous and can cause choking and suffocation.)

  • Have a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability which makes wearing, putting on or removing difficult

  • Will suffer severe distress when putting on/wearing or removing

  • Are providing assistance to someone relying upon lip reading to communicate

Link to the guidance for face coverings.

Supporting people staying at home

If you are staying at home here are some things to consider to help you stay safe and well.

Looking after your wellbeing

  • Be prepared, but only buy what you and your family need (personal, food and household essential items), arrange for someone to pick things up for you or get things delivered.
  • Order repeat prescriptions at the right time, about a week before you run out – do this over the phone.
  • Order the right amount – there is no need to add items to your prescription that you have not been taking regularly or recently.
  • Keep your room temperature comfortable and well ventilated. If you do have a fever, be careful not to overheat.
  • As we head into the summer months try to stay cool and hydrated, keep safe and well this summer
  • If you are able to, keep moving around, even when stuck indoors. Move every hour to keep joints and muscles working and to boost circulation
  • Eat regularly and try and have at least one hot meal a day.
  • Eat healthy balanced meals and drink enough water to stay hydrated. Visit or the NHS for resources and information on eating well
  • If you have a long term health problem and would like to learn self care tips on how to develop a healthy sleep pattern, manage pain and fatigue, manage stress, anxiety and difficult emotions and manage shortness of breath
  • Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get natural sunlight if you can by spending time in your garden if you have one
  • More information on staying healthy and active as you get older
  • Have a contingency plan to support you in case of an emergency
  • Scams – Be aware of scams. For further information visit Trading Standards
  • Look out for volunteering opportunities – Use your interests and passions to help others, you can still do this virtually even whilst you are staying at home
  • Relaxation - Use relaxation techniques such as breathing or mediation exercises. Some people prefer to listen to their favourite music or use visualisation techniques and find a place where you feel calm, confident and in control
  • It is important to keep up to date with news coverage to get updates about the virus but keep this in balance and limit the amount of news you take in if it bothers you. Always view trustworthy sources such as the NHS, Government, Local Authority and the World Health Organisation

Ideas to stay occupied

Social distancing and self-isolating can be boring and frustrating. It can affect your mood and wellbeing. Here are some useful tips on how to stay occupied.

  • Speak to friends and family over the phone, letters, email, contact face to face virtually – range of virtual platforms available
  • Do things that you enjoy - reading, cooking, indoor hobbies, watching your favourite TV show, listening to the radio, DIY
  • Join a virtual film / book club
  • Join your local Dudley libraries and explore their online catalogue from ebooks to audiobooks and DVDs
  • Virtual art gallery and museum tours via National Gallery, Tate Art and V&M museum or try something more local Discover Dudley
  • Spend time doing things you have been putting off - paperwork, have a spring clean (household and electronic!), learn a new skill, or try online learning
  • Pets can give us comfort at difficult times and there is no evidence that pets can be infected with coronavirus
  • Set yourself a daily goal so you feel like you have achieved something. At the end of the day think about a good thing that has happened that day
  • Keep a daily schedule of who to contact so you can speak to a different person each day
  • Visit, your local website for healthy lifestyles or sitting, home based and strength exercises
  • Sport England have collated a range of online resources to help you stay active indoors and outdoors for older people, pregnant women, families with children and people with health problems or a disability

Mental health support

If you or someone you know is feeling anxious or worried about Coronavirus, there is further information on Dudley Mindorgand Let's Get Healthy Dudley. There is also a 24-7 mental health support line which is available for Black Country residents of all ages provided by Black Country Healthcare Foundation Trust: 

      • Call 0800 008 6516
      • Press 1 if you live in Sandwell or Wolverhampton
        Press 2 if you live in Dudley or Walsall

Further information and practical tips on looking after your mental health:

Emergency Assistance Grant

The Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies is to support people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to financial hardship and/or hardship caused by COVID-19. This scheme is temporary.

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Grant

Accessing healthcare

Services across the NHS have had to change the way that they work to keep people safe.

Telephone/video appointments are now in place to reduce the number of people needing to visit GPs. There are also special sites set up to see people with coronavirus symptoms. Despite the changes, NHS services are still there for you if you need them.

Pharmacies remain open, GPs have appointments available (but you should not go to the practice without calling first) and hospitals are there for those in urgent need. For any concerns, call your GP and they will be able to advise you on the best thing to do. If you are concerned about attending an appointment please talk to your health care professional first rather than deciding not to attend.

It is important that you stay at home as much as possible, but if you have a medical condition or injury which needs treatment, the NHS is still here to look after you. For further information on how to get NHS help visit

Helplines and more information to support you

An army of people and services are working around the clock to support older and vulnerable people and put new measures in place to ensure that no vulnerable person in our community is left unsupported.

You can find out more information about what you can do to help older or vulnerable people in your community at Dudley CVS coronavirus webpage.

There are services available to help including Dudley Council services, charities, community groups, faith groups and other organisations. Here are some useful telephone lines:

  • If you are age 60+ and are feeling lonely you can contact Dudley Council’s Pleased to Meet You support service on 01384 812761 Mon to Fri, 9am to 4pm for a regular friendly chat and to find out about help in the local area, including help with arranging for grocery or medicine supplies to be dropped off to you
  • Residents of all ages who are staying at home as they are more vulnerable to the impact of COVID 19, self isolating and have no family or community support, or struggling financially can support from Dudley Food and Support Service, run in partnership with CAB, DCVS and Black Country Foodbank. Contact 0300 3302 152 Mon - Fri, 9.30am - 12.30pm, to access support for essential supplies, over the counter medication, befriending support, welfare and benefits advice
  • NHS responders 0808 196 3646 Daily 8 am to 8pm - Connects you with volunteers in your area who have registered to provide help with transport to medical appointments, shopping and medication.

  • If you use adult social care services, are worried about service closures or need some support or advice please contact Dudley Council’s adult social care helpline on 0300 555 0055 Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm, 0300 555 8574 at all other times

  • If someone volunteers to help that you don’t know, never give them money or your payment details. There are many local groups set up to help people but they should never ask for your personal bank details
  • While many people are looking out for others in the community, a small minority are looking to profit from coronavirus. Read advice from safe & sound  for tips on avoiding scams and more. If you suspect a bogus caller, dial 999 in an emergency or call the dedicated bogus caller hotline on 01384 812045

If you have been recently bereaved, then you may find some support information via Let’s Get and the council's bereavement services

NHS Education England have also brought together information on a range of topics from dementia and support from a number of national charities that you may find useful.

NHS also have resources available to help people with learning disabilities or autism access NHS services during coronavirus.

Information for people who care for a family member or a friend

If you care for a family member or friend you can continue to visit them, unless they or you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus. 

  • You should wash your hands for 20 seconds on arrival and often during your visit as well as when leaving
  • If you sneeze or cough don’t forget to ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’
  • You should keep a safe distance of two meters or three steps away from the person you care for
  • If you become unwell, you need to make other arrangements for care of the person that you care for, this should be planned for in advanced by creating a contingency plan. This should include your details, the cared for person's details, information about any medication and treatment, any medical appointments and details of who can step in during your absence. Dudley Carers Hub has created a contingency planning toolkit (download PDF). Alternatively you can request a printed copy by calling 01384 818723.
  • Make sure the person you care for has the information they need about who they should call if they feel unwell, for example NHS 111
  • Look after your own well-being and physical health
  • Contact Dudley Carer’s Hub on 01384 818723 for advice and practical support during the coronavirus outbreak
  • View the latest national advice for unpaid carers
  • Information to help young carers and young adult carers (aged under 25) is also now available. The government guidance is designed to help young carers understand the changes they need to make and details the  assistance available during the pandemic. View the guidance for young carers.

Pregnant women

If you are pregnant, there’s lots of information on a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding support available at Let's Get Healthy. If you are pregnant and worried about coronavirus you can find specific, expert advice from and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

From 28 weeks of pregnancy your midwife can sign you up to a free text service called Flo which will send you texts during your pregnancy and up to six weeks after your baby is born with useful tips and information. If you’d like to know more about Flo have a look at our introduction to Flo video

If you are pregnant it is important that you still attend your antenatal appointments and continue to seek advice from your midwife or maternity team.