Advice for caring for a friend or family member

This guidance is for anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who, due to a lifelong condition, illness, disability, serious injury, a mental health condition or an addiction, cannot cope without their support.

General advice

What you should be doing to prepare

Where you or the person you care for have no symptoms then please refer to the guidance on hygiene on the NHS website.

We advise all carers 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.

Further information and support can be found from Richmond Carers Centre or Carers UK.

You may be able to arrange help and support from family and friends, but it can be reassuring to have the involvement of Richmond Council or healthcare provider in case informal arrangements fall through. It may also be helpful to contact Richmond Carers Centre who can help with contingency planning.

Protecting yourself and the person you care for

Keep up to date with announcements and advice on GOV.UK and follow the latest advice set out in the Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults, which includes tips on how to help protect a vulnerable person you live with.

Cleaning your hands frequently throughout the day by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser will help protect you and the people you live with. This step is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of infection for you and other people. This includes when you arrive at the home of the person you care for, if you do not live with them, or have been out.

Caring for someone who is clinically ‘extremely vulnerable’

The guidance on shielding and protecting the clinically extremely vulnerable people from COVID-19 gives details. From the week of 23 March, those in the clinically ‘extremely vulnerable’ group should also have received a letter from the relevant GP or specialist with further information.

If you are caring for someone who falls into the clinically ‘extremely vulnerable’ category for risk of severe illness from COVID-19, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk. Ensure you follow advice on good hygiene:

  • only care that is essential should be provided
  • wash your hands when you arrive at the home of the person you care for and often thereafter, 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 if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care
  • provide information on who they should call if they feel unwell, how to use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed
  • find out about different sources of support that could be used and access further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Richmond Carers Centre or Carers UK.

If the person you care for is concerned about their usual paid carer coming in and out of their home and the risk of infection

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 Richmond 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.

As a carer, the Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults provides advice on the extra precautions you can take to help keep the person you care for safe.

Visiting relatives in care homes

The latest government guidance states that care homes will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities. Visits should be tailored to residents and facilities. Measures put in place should provide COVID secure for families to visit using visiting arrangements such as:

  • floor to ceiling screens
  • visiting pods
  • window visits
  • outdoor visits
  • further support for virtual visits

For further guidance, please read the full government guidance

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

Further Information Guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family

Richmond Council

Richmond Carers Centre

Looking after your wellbeing

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

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. 

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