Shielding and protecting the extremely vulnerable from coronavirus

The information in this article should provide guidance for those who are extremely vulnerable to more severe illness from coronavirus and what NHS England and Public Health England are asking you to do at this stage.

If you are fit and well you should be following the new rules set by the Government on the 11 May to stay alert and safe.

With the release of this new guidance the advice has not changed for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and you should continue shielding measures.

Shielding extremely vulnerable individuals

Guidance has been released to shield those persons who are clinically extremely vulnerable. Those that fall into this category include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients

  • People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.

  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).

  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

From Monday 23 March 2020 the NHS will contact you and you'll be given specific advice about what to do.

If you think you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.

What is shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. 

You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. 

The measures are:

  1. Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough and/or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
  2. If you think you have developed symptoms of COVID-19, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
  3. Do not leave your house.
  4. Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.
  5. Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
  6. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  7. Visitors are only allowed in your home when giving essential care (e.g. washing, dressing or feeding) and should follow the advice given

If you have someone else living with you they are NOT required to adopt these shielding measures but they should  support you in shielding and stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing their contact outside the home.

At home you should:

  1. Minimise the time other people living with you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

  2. Keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.

  3. If you share a toilet and bathroom with others, it’s important that they are cleaned every time after use (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.

  4. If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they’re present. If you can, take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing-up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.

  5. Everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face and clean frequently touched surfaces.

If the rest of your household follows this guidance, there is no need for them to take the full protective measures to keep you safe.

Can I (or the person I care for) be tested for coronavirus?

Testing is a key pillar of the Government's strategy to protect the NHS and save lives. The testing capacity has been expanded to include anyone with symptoms (in England).

Find out if you are eligible

How do I get assistance with food/medicines?

Please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for the support that you need. This includes help with food, shopping deliveries and additional care you might need.

From Tuesday 24 March, Richmond Council (LBRuT) are launching a new helpline as a first response for residents, particularly those elderly and/or vulnerable without support networks, who need support to access medical/care services and food supplies. 

If you or someone you know needs this support, please contact:

020 8871 6555 or 

covid19support@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk.

This helpline can also be used for other enquiries related to COVID-19, for anyone in need of support.

For all medical enquiries please continue to contact the NHS on 111.nhs.uk or on 111.
For all general enquiries about Council services, please check richmond.gov.uk for updates or call the main Contact Centre on 020 8891 1411.

The Government is launching its Local Support Scheme, which will link in with the Community Hub to support those for whom self-isolation is most critical.

Sources of information

If you have any  questions or concerns contact us by the details below and we will work to find you an answer.

020 8099 5335

info@healthwatchrichmond.co.uk

Looking for further information about coronavirus?

We have brought together the latest information about coronavirus including how you can get involved and help your community, and how to help your wellbeing during these uncertain times. 

Find out more