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Am I a carer?

Being a carer for someone can look really different to each and every person. You might not even consider yourself a carer, just someone who lends a hand or pops to the shops for someone you know. But if you provide support for someone – whether you’re paid or not – then you're a carer.

You may care for someone by:

  • picking up essential supplies
  • checking in with them on a regular basis
  • supporting them to take their medication
  • providing cleaning services
  • supporting someone to stay independent at home with personal care such as helping them to eat, move about the house or shower.

If you care for someone, it's a good idea to put together an emergency plan, just in case something happens, or guidance changes, and it becomes trickier for you to keep providing care.

Your emergency plan should include:

  • the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
  • details of any medication the person you look after is taking
  • details of any medical appointments they need to keep
  • details of any ongoing treatment they need
  • details of what you do to care for the person
  • who should be contacted if there's an emergency.

Perhaps there's a family member, friend, trusted neighbour or a local community support group that could step in and help if necessary?

Can I still provide care for someone in their home if I don’t live with them?

If you provide care that requires you to go into someone’s home – perhaps you help them to get out of bed, move around their house, take their medication, or get dressed – then you can carry on doing this.

But, if you do so, you have to follow simple hygiene steps to protect the person you care for. These include:

  • washing your hands when you arrive and often during your visit, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • catching any sneezes in a tissue and dispose of it straight away
  • if you do need to cough you should cough into the crook of your elbow
  • consider wearing a face covering if it’s possible for you and the person you are caring for.

If you or the person you care for lives alone or in a singled-adult household, you can form a support bubble with each other. This can make caring easier as it means you can spend time in the house of the person you care for without needing to socially distance.

If you are in an area where lockdown restrictions are in place, it means you would be able to stay at one another's houses and travel together.

You’re only allowed to form one support bubble with another household and once you have formed a support bubble you cannot change who is in the bubble. You can find more information on support bubbles here.

If the person you care for lives in a supported living setting, you should talk to the person you care for and the supported living provider to arrange how you can continue to provide this care. More information on the government issued guidance can be found here.

Can I still provide care for and visit someone in a care home?

Yes, you can still visit someone in a care home. The Government guidance outlines that each care home resident can have up to two designated visitors that will receive regular coronavirus tests. If you're visiting someone you should be expected to be tested about twice a week. 

If this test is negative then you will be able to visit the person indoors with the right PPE, which will be provided by the care home. This visit can include hugging, holding hands and providing personal care. However, it's still advised to keep your distance where possible. 

Each care home is responsible for its own visiting policy, so it's likely each care home will approach visitation slightly differently. 

Though there may be differences, there is Government guidance that each care home should follow. These include:

  • Limiting the number of visitors to a maximum of two constant visitors per resident.
  • Testing designated visitors twice a week on arrival at the care home. 
  • Providing appropriate PPE during the visit and helping you follow social distancing measures.
  • Facilitating indoor visits when a negative test result is confirmed.
  • Facilitating open-air visits such as a garden or window visit.
  • Facilitating visiting in temporary structures where possible, such as 'visiting pods'.

The guidance allows for residents to receive visits from their loved ones in all circumstances if they are at the end of their life. 

Visits are likely to differ from visits before the coronavirus pandemic. This might mean you need to allow more time to be tested and prepare yourself to wear PPE and follow strict infection control measures when visiting. 

If there's a coronavirus outbreak in the care home then the Government has told care homes visits must stop immediately, except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life. However, if visits do stop there should be alternative ways of communicating with residents and regular updates about their wellbeing should be provided.

The care home should clearly communicate its visiting policy and make it available to all residents and their families. You may have already done so, but if you're unsure about whether you can visit a loved one you should contact the care home or local council about visiting arrangements. 

Can I still provide care if I have symptoms or I'm self-isolating?

If you feel unwell, have any symptoms of coronavirus or are self-isolating for another reason (for example you've been advised to by NHS Test and Trace) you shouldn’t carry on providing any care or support.

If this does happen, you should look at your emergency contingency plan if you have one and notify another family member, friend, trusted neighbour or local community support group who would be able to step in and help.

Your local Isle of Wight Council can help. You can call  01983 823600 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, and between 10am and 3pm at weekends.

If you do not know how to do this, you can contact NHS 111.

It may also be helpful to contact your local carers support organisation. You can find out about local carer organisations at Carers UK.

Can I still provide care if the person I care for has symptoms or is self-isolating?

If the person you care for has symptoms of coronavirus, you can carry on caring as long as you are not considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ or ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and originally told you should ‘shield’.

If this is the case, you should where possible ask friends and family who can support you in providing care to step in. If there is no other option available, you should make sure you distance yourself where possible from the person you care for while they are displaying symptoms and follow guidance in staying safe as much as possible.

Can I help with someone else's cleaning or shopping?

If you help someone with their cleaning, or you usually do the shopping or pick up essential supplies then you can carry on doing so. In local lockdown areas, you're still allowed to go into someone else’s home to provide essential care or assistance to a vulnerable person.

Try to make sure you still take precautions to keep the person you're supporting and yourself safe. These could include:

Ensuring you wash your hands when you arrive – for at least 20 seconds with soap and water – and then regularly during your visit.

  • Try to keep a 2 metre distance from anyone else at all times – perhaps you could ask the person you support to stay in one room whilst you clean or unload the shopping?
  • You could also buy some new cleaning products or use what the person already has, as bringing your own can increase the risk of spreading the virus from home to home.
  • Make sure any surfaces you touch are wiped down clean.

What can I do if I'm worried about their wellbeing?

If you're caring for someone, you may be worried about their wellbeing, particularly with everything going on. It’s normal during this strange time to feel anxious or worried.

If you're very concerned about someone's health or welfare, but don't think it's an emergency you should call 111 for NHS advice, 24 hours a day. If there is an emergency, you should call 999.

If the person you care for develops symptoms of coronavirus it's important to follow guidelines on booking a test and self-isolating. If they're clinically extremely vulnerable and develop symptoms you should call NHS 111 immediately for advice. 

You should also seek medical help for the person you care for if:

  • they cannot cope with their symptoms at home
  • they feel breathless and it's getting worse
  • their symptoms get worse.

In other situations, for example where you're worried about potential abuse or neglect, you can contact the local authority in the area where the person lives and let them know that you are concerned.

How can I look after my own wellbeing?

This is a worrying time for many and if you are caring for someone, this may be a particularly stressful time for you.

As carers, it's easy to focus so much of our energy on the person we care for, that sometimes we may forget to look after ourselves, however we must protect the well-being of both the person we care for and ourselves.