Support for informal carers

This information was last checked 3 July 2020.

Guidance for informal carers

Carers UK, has lots of valuable information on its website.The Government has created some guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends and family too, including those looking after someone who is extremely vulnerable.

There are some simple steps you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk at the current time.

  • Ensure you follow advice on good hygiene:
    • only care that is essential should be provided
    • wash your hands on arrival and often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
    • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
    • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Do not visit or provide care if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care
  • Provide information on whom they should call if they feel unwell and how to use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service, and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed

Can you provide care if you have coronavirus symptoms?

If you start to display any of the symptoms of coronavirus you must suspend your face-to-face visits with the person you care for. 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 online form helpline for vulnerable people seeking additional care: 0800 028 8327.

Find support to help you

It is important that you get the help and support you need during these unprecedented times, even just someone to help with your shopping or household chores, someone to talk to if things get too much. Cambridgeshire County Council is keen to support you – please fill in their ‘I need help’ form.

There are also a number of community organisations that are commissioned by the County Council that may be able to help. Find details of Cambridgeshire organisations via the County Council’s directory.

Looking after your own wellbeing and physical health during this time is important, and information on this is available via the NHS Every Mind Matters campaign.

Cares in Cambridgeshire can access a wide range of digital tools and essential resources that may help make their caring situation easier, through special access to the Carers UK website, via Create an account at the Carers UK website using the free access code: DGTL3385.

What if something happens to you?

All carers are advised to create an emergency plan with the person they care for, to use in circumstances where help from other people to deliver care may be needed. Depending on the circumstances, this could be help from family or friends, or a care provider.

In order to create an emergency plan that fits the needs of the person you care for, you will need to set out:

  • the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
  • who you and the person you look after would like to be contacted in an emergency
  • details of any medication the person you look after is taking
  • details of any ongoing treatment they need
  • details of any medical appointments they need to keep

You should also ensure that it is in a format that can readily be shared with other people who will need to discuss the plan with the person you care for. You can find out about local carer organisations at Carers UK or find information out about local services on the Carers Trust website.

There is a What If? service which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which can provide emergency support to the person you care for in the event of you being unable to care because of a sudden illness, accident or other unplanned event. This could also support the person you care for if you should be unable to care for them because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms.

If the person you look after lives in Cambridgeshire, you can register a What If? Plan with Caring Together and apply for an Emergency Card. This is a free service funded by the County Council to look after adults with care needs during an emergency involving their family carer. For more information on help and support available to carers locally on the Caring Together site, which includes resources for young and young adult carers. You can contact Caring Together on 0345 241 0954 or hello@caringtogether.org.

Should paid carers still be visiting the person you care for too?

The Government has issued guidance to home care providers to ensure that appropriate levels of hygiene are achieved to reduce the risk of infection. Speak to the care provider about the processes they are following to maintain good hygiene.

If the person you care for receives regular health or social care from an organisation, either through the County Council or paid for by themselves, inform their care provider that they are reducing social contacts and agree on a plan for continuing their care.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Informal carers not living at the same address as those they care for can approach Cambridgeshire County Council for help with Personal Protection Equipment. The Council has a small quantity of PPE equipment to help those in high risk groups (either the carer, the person being supported or both), and this can be obtained by calling the helpline on 0345 0455219 or filling out the ‘I need help or someone I know needs help’ form online. For informal carers living at the same address, it may not be beneficial to have PPE, however a genuine need could be met by following the procedure outlined above.

Caring for people with learning disabilities, or autistic adults and children

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has published advice and guidance for carers and family supporting people in these situations, which you can access on the SCIE website.

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