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.

Coronavirus restrictions

As of 19th July, most restrictions have been lifted. Read the guidance below to find out what you can and cannot do: 

Find out more

Protecting yourself and the person you care for

If you, or the person you care for, have no symptoms then please refer to the guidance on hygiene on the NHS website, which says:


  • wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • 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
  • clean objects and surfaces you touch often (such as door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
  • consider wearing a face covering when in shared spaces
  • keep windows open in the room you're staying in and shared spaces as much as possible

Do not:

  • share towels, including hand towels and tea towels

Please see specific situations below for what to do if you or the person you care for display symptoms.

Getting vaccinated

For the first phase, The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Included in this are those with underlying health conditions, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

Some carers are now included on the vaccination priority list in group 6. Those who are eligible for a carer's allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable, should be offered vaccination in priority group 6, which includes unpaid carers. Make sure you are registered as a carer with your GP and read more on vaccine advice for carers.

Vaccines are not currently licensed for children under 16 years of age. If you have any concerns or questions regarding vaccination, please see:

Or contact your GP or relevant health practitioner or service.

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 1 April, if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable you will no longer be advised to shield. However, you should continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself. It is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to limit the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. Contact your local authority or speak to your GP if you have any concerns.

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.

Providing care or assistance

Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors can take place for the purposes of providing care or assistance, such as:

  • to visit people in your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • to provide emergency assistance
  • to go to a support group of up to 30 participants. The limit of 30 does not include children under 5 who are accompanying a parent or guardian
  • to provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people, including shopping for essential items and accessing services on their behalf

You can also provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people inside someone’s home, where necessary.

  • 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. 

Find out more