March 23, 2020

A Carer's Guide to COVID19

Firstly…. What a whirlwind few weeks! I don’t know about anyone else, but I am scared. I try not to be, but I am. I am in the frontline as a paramedic and exposed to patients with COVID19 symptoms most shifts. I am terrified of taking it home to my asthmatic daughter, or my severely disabled Mum. I made the hard decision of leaving home for 12 weeks, to keep my family safe and be able to keep working as a paramedic. I will pop in and see my little girl when I have been 48 hours clear of a shift, but I will limit how much she cuddles me.

It is really horrible but I keep thinking of the children in the Syrian conflict, and reminding myself that it is only 12 weeks, and we have the luxury of facetime, whatsapp, facebook, Instagram… we are being asked to stay in. I only wish it was winter though hey!

I have had many requests and questions from carers. If you work for a company I expect they have their own guidance, but If you’re self employed or unpaid, of course you’re reliant on information on the internet, which can seem confusing.

I am going to try and compile the best bits of information, along with some practical tips to get through the next few months. All of the formal advice regarding COVID19 will be from Public Health England/Government, so rest assured it is factual. All of the other stuff, is just from my personal experience of caring for someone with Huntington’s disease.

3 week LOCKDON! Well this makes things a little clearer with isolation rules...

Read the government advice on lockdown rules, and Public Health England.

Carers coming in:

  • Ensure they wear new clothes on each shift, as this will reduce the chance of them carrying anything.
  • You can purchase disposable aprons, gloves, and face masks on Amazon, just make sure it’s a UK dispatcher so you can get it same week.
  • I would advise masks or face covering for personal care, feeding, and food preparation. You can even ask them to wear a thin scarf if you can’t get hold of masks!
  • Of course as normal, regular hand washing. Make sure you moisturise as your skin will get so dry.
  • ANY sign of illness even minor, do not put a person at risk. Isolate.

Unpaid carers (the ones with no choice……)

  • Same as above with masks, aprons and gloves.
  • Accept any help that is offered, don’t be stoic. Allow people to drop shopping at your door, or meals.
  • Plan ahead for everything. Plan your meals, plan the days you’ll need to shop. Be one step ahead of the game. Make the kids lunches and snacks the day before so that you save yourself time.
  • ROUTINE – I cannot advocate this more. In particular, in Huntington’s disease, but to be honest for anything. Routine can feel stressful and time consuming initially but once you do it, you will feel organised, and less stressed I can promise you. Routine relieves anxiety for a Huntington’s sufferer, and is also very helpful if you have the kids at home too. Write it on the fridge, write it anywhere, have a loose structure to the day. This is why children are so much better for being in school.
  • Trips out – It is going to be inevitably hard telling someone with learning difficulties, Huntington’s disease, or dementia that you can’t go out. This is all the more reason for routine – you are allowed out to exercise once a day. So put it in the routine. Either a walk, walk with a wheelchair, or a drive in the car with a thermos and picnic at a pretty view point.

When do I need to worry about Corona virus when I or my loved one is ill?

Visit the advice on the following site, it is the safest place for advice and NHS is always evidenced based and up to date:

You do not need to phone 111 to tell them you are isolating or have symptoms. You only need to phone them if you are so unwell, that you think you may need hospital admission (or a loved one). This is a good opportunity to look on the local council website and see if they have an Emergency Carer's Scheme in place, should you get unwell. Have the worst case scenarios in your head, and be proactive not reactive, biggest tip!

This is a good opportunity to look at your local Council website, here is what Gloucestershire are doing, any many will likely be running similar schemes:

Gloucestershire’s councils and partners have created a community help hub to connect local people who need help, with others who can provide the support they need.

As further measures are put in place to delay the spread of Covid-19, local people have already started to pull together to arrange help in their area for those who need it, but not everyone has existing connections.

In response, the council’s across the county have come together with the police and health partners to create the hub to connect local people who need help, with individuals, groups and businesses who can provide the support they need.

The hub includes four forms:

  • ‘I can offer help’ – is for those who are able to support neighbours with tasks such as picking up prescriptions, shopping, dog walking and more
  • ‘I need help’ – can be used by individuals to ask for support
  • ‘My neighbour needs help’ – may be used by people to request help on behalf of a neighbour, relative or friend who cannot access the internet themselves
  • ‘My business can help’ – will allow local businesses who may have skills and resources others could benefit from, to offer their help

The information collected will be shared with the relevant local council who will connect people who can help each other, or if appropriate refer individuals to an existing service.”

Any further concerns or worries, let me know!

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