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Advice on caring for someone in another household

If you provide care and support to an older person, you may have concerns about how to continue doing this during the coronavirus outbreak. Here's what you need to consider to keep you and them safe. 

Caring for someone you live with?

There's specific information for how to provide care and support to someone who lives with you.


Am I a carer?

Being a carer for someone can look really different to each and every person. You may not even consider yourself to be a carer, just someone who lends a hand or pops to the shops for your neighbour for example. But if you provide support for someone – whether you’re paid or not – then you’re a carer.

You may care for someone by:

  • picking up essential supplies
  • checking in with them on a regular basis
  • supporting them to take their medication
  • providing cleaning services
  • supporting someone to maintain their independence at home with personal care such as helping them to eat, move about the house or shower.

If you care for someone we'd really encourage you to think about an emergency plan, just in case you can't provide care. 

Any emergency plan should include:

  • the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
  • details of any medication the person you look after is taking
  • details of any medical appointments they need to keep
  • details of any ongoing treatment they need
  • who should be contacted if there's an emergency. 

Perhaps there's a family member, friend, trusted neighbour or a local community support group that could step in and help if necessary?

If those options aren't available to you or don't seem appropriate, you can contact your local council or health care provider. If you can't do this, you should contact NHS 111. Carers UK also has more information. 


Can I still provide care for someone in their home if I don’t live with them?

The short answer is yes – although you might have to change the way you provide this care depending on what it is that you usually do for them.

There are precautions and steps you should take to keep you both as safe as possible – such as regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Download me and pop me on the fridge

We've created a resource with handy information and helpful contact numbers that you can give it someone you might be worried about.


How can I safely visit someone?

If you provide care that requires you to go into someone’s home – perhaps you help them to get out of bed, move around their house, take their medication, or get dressed – then you can carry on doing this.

But, if you do so, you must ensure you follow simple hygiene steps to protect the person you care for. These include washing your hands when you arrive and often during your visit, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should catch any sneezes in a tissue and dispose of it straight away. If you do need to cough you should cough into the crook of your elbow. You may want to consider wearing a face covering if it’s possible for you and the person you are caring for.

If you or the person you care for lives alone or in a singled-adult household you may decide to form a support bubble with each other. This can make caring easier as it means you can spend time in the house of the person you care for without needing to socially distance. You would also be able to stay at one another's houses and travel together. You are only allowed to form one support bubble with another household and once you have formed a support bubble you cannot change who is in the bubble. You can find more information on support bubbles here.


Can I help with someone else's cleaning?

If you help someone with their cleaning, then you can carry on doing so.

But ensure you wash your hands when you arrive – at least 20 seconds with soap and water – and then regularly during your visit. Also try to keep a 2 metre distance from anyone else at all times – perhaps you could ask the person you support to stay in one room whilst you clean? You could also buy some new cleaning products or use what the person already has, as bringing your own can increase the risk of spreading the virus from home to home.  


Can I help with someone else's shopping?

If you usually do the shopping or pick up essential supplies for someone, then you should continue to do this.

You can now visit one other householdat a time indoors and so you can help unpack shopping. Remember to maintain social distancing measures such as maintaining a 2 metre distance and washing your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds regularly. It’s also a good idea to wipe down any surfaces that you touch.

If you shop for someone classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and who is not a part of your support bubble, then you should try to not enter their house. Ask them to leave a list on the doorstep for you to pick up or to let you know what they need over the phone or by text. When youre back from the shops, leave the shopping on their front doorstep, knock on their door and step back to check they receive it safely. If they need help putting the shopping away, they could wait in another room while you put it away for them.

Popping in for a chat

You are now able to spend time indoors with people from one other household at a time, so you can pop in for a chat. You can also meet with up to 5 people outside from different households, which includes private gardens and roof terraces. Don’t forget that you need to socially distance from anyone who is not part of your household or support bubble. It’s also good to remember that the risk of coronavirus spreading is lower outside so you might prefer to meet in outdoor spaces, such as gardens, when you can.

The guidelines are a bit different for people who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and have been advised to shield, you should not spend time indoors with anyone from another household unless they are apart of your support bubble or they provide care. There are still other ways to stay in touch, such as over the phone, through email or video calls, or meeting up outside.


Can I still provide care if I have symptoms or I'm self-isolating?

If you feel unwell, have any symptoms of coronavirus and are self-isolating you shouldn’t carry on providing any care or support.

Perhaps you can identify another family member, friend, trusted neighbour or local community support group that could step in and help.

If those options aren't available or appropriate, you can contact your local council or health care provider.

If you do not know how to do this, you can contact NHS 111.

It may also be helpful to contact your local carers support organisation. You can find out about local carer organisations at Carers UK.


What can I do if I'm worried about their wellbeing?

If you're caring for someone, you may be worried about their wellbeing, particularly with everything going on. It’s normal during this strange time to feel anxious or worried. 

If you're very concerned about someone's health or welfare, but don't think it's an emergency you should call 111 for NHS advice, 24 hours a day. If there is an emergency, you should call 999.

If the person you care for develops symptoms of coronavirus it's important to follow guidelines on booking a test and self-isolating. If they are clinically extremely vulnerable and develop symptoms you should call NHS 111 immediately for advice.  

You should also seek medical help for the person you care for if: 

  • they cannot cope with their symptoms at home 
  • they feel breathless and it's getting worse 
  • their symptoms get worse.  

In other situations, for example where you are worried about potential abuse or neglect, you can contact the local authority in the area where the person lives and let them know that you are concerned.


How can I look after my own wellbeing?

This is a worrying time for many and if you are caring for someone, this may be a particularly stressful time for you.

As carers, it's easy to focus so much of our energy on the person we care for, that sometimes we may forget to look after ourselves, however we must protect the well-being of both the person we care for and ourselves.

As well as looking after others, make sure you're looking after yourself too and addressing any worries you have. These pages can help you do that:

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Last updated: Jul 08 2020

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