Are you in a high risk group?

Shielding paused from 1 August 2020 - see update

You are in a high risk group or clinically vulnerable if you are:

Aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions).

Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):

  • Chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes
  • A weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
  • Being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)

If you are pregnant

The RCOG have produced guidelines if you are pregnant during the coronavirus outbreak which you can see on the RCOG website.

You can also protect yourself by:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Use a tissue when you or anyone in your family coughs or sneezes, discard this and wash your hands
  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying signs of Coronavirus
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport
  • Work from home, when possible
  • Avoid large and small gatherings in public places
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet and social media
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
  • Follow Hereford County Hospital's Maternity ward on Facebook
  • Talk Community can help find support for those who are vulnerable and/or dealing with underlying medical conditions

If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:

  • Signing up with your local pharmacy for delivery of medication
  • Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy
  • Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) to deliver it to you

If you or someone you know is struggling, direct them to Talk Community Covid-19 Response on 01432 260027 or email talkcommunitycovidresponse@herefordshire.gov.uk

If you have a pre-existing illness

  • Stay at home at all times - do not leave your home to buy food, collect medicine or exercise
  • Stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people in your home as much as possible
  • Get food and medicine delivered and left outside your door - ask friends and family to help or register at GOV.UK to get coronavirus support if you need it
  • Prepare a hospital bag, including a list of the medicines you're taking, in case you need to go into hospital
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Make sure anyone who comes into your home washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Clean objects and surfaces you touch often (like door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
  • Clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched

Please:

  • Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family, unless they're providing essential care
  • Do not stop taking any prescription medicines without speaking to your doctor
  • Find more advice on the NHS website

If you or someone you know is struggling, direct them to Talk Community Covid-19 Response on 01432 260027 or email talkcommunitycovidresponse@herefordshire.gov.uk

If you are over 70

  • You are at higher risk of suffering from severe illness if you catch coronavirus
  • Please take social distancing extremely seriously and where possible, remove any possible contact with other people and public environments
  • If you have to go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • If you are worried about how you might cope in the coming weeks, we are on hand to assist you to find the help and support available in your community
  • Talk Community can help find support for those who are vulnerable and/or dealing with underlying medical conditions

If you or someone you know is struggling, direct them to Talk Community Covid-19 Response Team on 01432 260027 or email talkcommunitycovidresponse@herefordshire.gov.uk

Shielding guidance update 1 August 2020

View the full government guidance on shielding from 1 August 2020

The Government has set out guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the future of the shielding programme.

The guidance changed on 6 July and again on 1 August, based on clinical evidence.

Shielding and other advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable has been and remains advisory.

What are the changes?

From 6 July, you can meet in groups of up to six people from outside your household - outdoors with social distancing. For example, you might want to enjoy a summer BBQ outside at a friend's house, but remember it is still important to maintain social distancing and you should not share items such as cups and plates. If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependant children under 18), you will be able to form a support bubble with another household.

From Saturday 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people can begin to get out and about again. The Government guidance is changing and you are no longer required to shield.

Until now if you have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, you will have been strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep interactions outside to a minimum.

As the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is now much lower, so is the risk of catching coronavirus, meaning that people who had been shielding can now get out and about more.

This means:

  • The government will be no longer advising people to shield
  • The support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop
  • NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food, prescriptions and essential items bought by shielded people if it is still needed
  • People who have been shielding will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if they have registered by 17 July)

If you cannot work from home you are now able to return to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure. You can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise, always keeping 2 metres away wherever possible.

Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable or live with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable can re-join their classmates and go back to school (when the rest of their class goes back).

Why is the guidance changing now?

The roadmap has been developed in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of those who are shielding in mind. Current statistics show that the rate of catching coronavirus in the community continues to decrease. On average less than 1 in 1,700 in our communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.

Unless advised otherwise by your clinician, you are still in the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' category and should continue to follow the advice for that category.

We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, we may need to advise you to shield again.

Changes to local support

If you are in receipt of Government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries, you will continue to receive this support until the end of July.

Local councils and volunteers are also providing support to people who are shielding, to enable them to stay safely in their homes. The Government is funding local councils to continue to provide these services to those who need them until the end of July.

What support is available to people who are shielding until the end of July?

Essential supplies

There are a number of ways that those who are shielding can access food and other essentials:

  • Make use of the supermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. When a clinically extremely vulnerable person registers online as needing support with food, their data is shared with supermarkets. This means if they make an online order with a supermarket (as both a new or existing customer), they will be eligible for a priority slot
  • Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. A list has been shared with local authorities and charities
  • A free, standardised weekly parcel of food and household essentials. If you have registered for this support online before 17 July you will continue to receive weekly food box deliveries until the end of July
  • If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact us to find out what support services are available in your area
  • For anyone facing financial hardship, the Government has made £63 million available to local councils in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials
NHS Volunteer Responders

Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme beyond the end of July.

NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:

  • Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies
  • A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks and
  • Transport to medical appointments

Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health case professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf. More information is on the NHS Volunteer Responders website.

Health care

Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell).

People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should continue to access the NHS services they need during this time. This may be delivered in a different way or in a different place than you are used to, for example via an online consultation, but if you do need to go to hospital or attend another health facility for planned care, extra planning and protection will be put in place.

Mental health support

It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low.

Follow the advice that works for you in the guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus (Covid-19).

The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety and NHS mental wellbeing audio guides provide further information on how to manage anxiety.

If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health or you are looking for more support for someone else, we would urge you to speak to a GP and seek out mental health support delivered by charities or the NHS.

Income and employment support

Those shielding will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of their shielding status until 31 July. SSP eligibility criteria apply.

From 1 August, if clinically extremely vulnerable people are unable to work from home but need to work, they can, as long as the business is Covid safe.

The Government is asking employers to work with them to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for their shielding employees. It is important that this group continues to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required.

Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they can continue to use the Job Retention Scheme for shielded employees who have already been furloughed.

What support will be available from 1 August 2020?

From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people will continue to have access to priority supermarket delivery slots if you have registered online before 17 July for a priority delivery slot.

NHS Volunteer Responders will also continue to offer support to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines.

The NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme has been expanded to offer a new Check in and Chat Plus role. This new role has been designed to provide peer support and companionship to people who are shielding as they adapt to a more normal way of life.

If you are vulnerable or at risk and need help with shopping, medication or other essential supplies, please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).

The Government is committed to supporting local councils and voluntary sector organisations to respond to those who have specific support needs and requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic. Details of coronavirus support and advice available.

The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support you were receiving prior to the start of shielding.

You should continue to contact us if you have any ongoing social care needs.