Coronavirus

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

Certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19). These people need to take extra care and minimise contact with other people outside of their household.

What has changed?

COVID-19 numbers are currently (November 2020) rising rapidly across the whole of the UK.

Everyone in England, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, is required to follow the new National Restrictions from 5 November, which have been set out by the government and apply to the whole population. These restrictions:

  • require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • prevent people gathering with those they do not live with, except for specific purposes
  • close certain businesses and venues
If you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You:
  • should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise all of your contacts with others
  • should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace

Children however should continue to attend school, unless advised not to by a health professional.

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
  • aged 70 or over (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
    • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
    • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
    • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
    • diabetes
    • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
    • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • pregnant
Clinically extremely vulnerable

There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. New information has been provided by the government and this includes additional guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people, to help protect them from coronavirus (COVID-19). 

More information for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

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.
  • 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 lets-get.com 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
  • 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 lets-get.com, 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:

Support bubbles

  • A support bubble is when an adult who lives on their own joins one other household of any size.
  • All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each other’s homes, including overnight without needing to stay 2 metres apart.  
  • Once you have formed your support bubble you can’t change who’s in it.
  • If anyone in your support bubble develops symptoms of coronavirus or tests positive for coronavirus then everyone in the bubble will need to self-isolate.

Accessing healthcare

  • If you need medical help, the NHS is still here for you. It’s important not to delay seeking held if you have symptoms that you are worried about.
  • If you need medical help from your GP practice, contact them either online, by an app or by phone. Many patients can be assessed over the phone or through video consultation without having to attend the practice but your GP will see you face to face if required.
  • If you need urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 service either online or by calling 111.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of a serious or life-threatening emergency such as a heart attack or stroke, call 999.
  • It’s important that babies and children continue with their routine immunisations and that pregnant women still attend antenatal appointments. If you have concerns about your mental health you can contact your GP or key worker. If you are stressed or anxious you can get advice at www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/
  • You can order repeat prescriptions online or by telephone without having to visit your GP.
  • You should continue to attend your GP and hospital appointments, unless you have been told not to attend.
  • In primary care and in hospitals the NHS is taking stringent precautions to protect patients – and staff – from catching coronavirus, for example by having far fewer patients in waiting areas to ensure social distancing and by ensuring all staff and patients are wearing face masks.

For further information on how to get NHS help visit www.dudleyccg.nhs.uk/coronavirus/coronavirus-getting-nhs-help-when-you-need-it/

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.

Access to essentials - online

Online shopping

  • Most supermarkets offer on-line food shopping services accessed through their home websites. If you need help registering or setting up or doing an on- online shop please contact the covid support line on 0300 3302 152 (Mon-Fri 9.30-12.30) so that help can be arranged.

Access to essentials - if online isn't an option for you

  • You may be able to enlist family, friends or neighbours to do a shop or pick up prescriptions for you
  • Many supermarkets have set up telephone food shopping for vulnerable customers
    • Morrisons 0345 611 6111
    • Co-op 0800 435 902
    • Sainsburies 0800 328 1700
    • Waitrose - 0800 022 4055
    • Local independent retailers may also have put telephone services in place
  • NHS Volunteer Responders can pick up your shopping and/or medication and deliver it to you call 0808 196 3646 (7 days a week 8am-8pm). They also provide a check in and chat service
  • Pleased to Meet You- If you are age 60+ or younger with a specific need i.e. physical and/or sensory disability, dementia or learning disability, you can contact Dudley Council’s Pleased to Meet You support service on 01384 812761 Mon to Fri, 9am to 4pm, they can provide help with arranging grocery shopping or medicine supplies and time to talk services to help with social isolation
  • If none of these are an option for you, or if you are experiencing financially difficulties contact the covid support line on 0300 3302 152 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-12.30pm) for access to emergency essential food supplies, welfare and benefits advice and support with your wellbeing.

Adult social care services

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

Other support

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.

Scam awareness

  • 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

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. 

  • View the latest national advice for unpaid carers
  • Contact Dudley Carer’s Hub on 01384 818723 for advice and practical support during the coronavirus outbreak
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Carers can also access our virtual groups for carers, which take place via Zoom. There are a number of different groups depending on your situation, the sessions are run by Sandwell Crossroads and provides an opportunity to meet and chat with other carers, for more information contact the hub.
  • Our Young Carer Service is provided by Sandwell Crossroads, who can provide information, advice and support to young people who provide care to family member.  Please call 01384 886429
  • Carers are able to access PPE for Covid-19 related needs if they provide personal care to another individual.   Please contact Dudley Carers Hub for more information on 01384 818723 or email dudleycarershub@dudley.gov.uk

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 www.nhs.uk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus 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.