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Tips for staying at home

Stay at home

The Government has asked everyone in the UK to stay at home. This means even people who may not be at a high risk should only leave the house for limited reasons. These measures are to help prevent the spread of the virus, and protect the most vulnerable.

Now we're all spending most of our time at home, we may not have the communities around us that we're used to so it is sensible to put a plan in place. This will help you feel more confident about how you'll manage at home over the coming weeks and months.


Ask for help

Talk to family, friends and neighbours to let them know how they can help. Many communities are also organising local support groups as well. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Explore what you can do by phone or online.


Essential supplies

Make a list of the things you need day to day including food, household essentials and medication. This will help you to keep track of what you need to get in.

Don’t forget to think about the things you may want to keep going with hobbies and interests at home.

There is no need to stockpile. Shops and pharmacies will keep refreshing their supplies. Many shops are also restricting access to the wider public at particular times of day to allow older people to shop first. See our shopping advice for more information.     

It's important to note that it may take longer than usual to receive deliveries to your home so do plan ahead, particularly if you have your usual prescriptions delivered. If you have any concerns about your medication, or worried you’re running low, then talk to your pharmacist.

If you're considered in an ‘at risk’ group you should have received a letter from the NHS which provides you with more information on how the Government will support you to stay at home and not leave the house. This includes information on how to let them know if you need help getting food supplies and medication. If you have not received this letter and think you should, then contact your GP or specialist.


Being prepared

Think about other things it would be useful to have to hand, this may include:

  • keeping to hand a list of useful telephone numbers – as well as family and friends this could include your GP, local council, carers, local pharmacy and delivery services.
  • having a list of your medications and important medical information to hand.
  • if you have a mobile phone and/or access to the internet, think about how you could use them to help (e.g. online shopping, video calls, sending and receiving emails and messages) and check you are confident you know how.

Medical appointments

The NHS are trying to reduce the number of people visiting hospitals and GPs. This is to stop the spread of coronavirus and to protect the NHS.

Cancer treatment and clinically urgent care will still be treated as a priority, but your treatment plan might be reviewed. They'll consider whether the risks of your treatment have changed as a result of coronavirus. Your clinical team will talk to you and answer questions you may have about any changes to your treatment or appointments. This is a worrying time for everyone. For support, take a look at Macmillan’s guidance on coronavirus for cancer patients.

There’s going to be some changes to outpatient appointments. Some people will be asked to have their appointment over the phone or by online video consultation. Other patients will find their appointment has been rearranged or cancelled for now.

Patients who need to have their appointments face-to-face will be asked not to bring a friend or relative with them, unless completely necessary.

Most hospitals will contact patients with changes to their appointments, but if you haven’t heard you could look at the hospital’s website for guidance.

All non-emergency operations are being suspended for at least three months. This is to help keep patients safe and to make sure the NHS have the resources they need to tackle coronavirus.

This will include hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, as well as minor surgery.  We know lot of people will have already been waiting a long time for their treatment and this news might be frustrating for some, but keeping the coronavirus under control must be the top priority at this time.

Your GP may also postpone routine appointments, such as medicine reviews, check-ups and annual health checks, or try to hold appointments over the phone or on video chat.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, do not visit your GP surgery or hospital. Find out what to do here

If you have health conditions which make you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and have been advised to shield, then you should contact your GP or specialist for advice on how to continue receiving your care and treatment.

Am I still able to get patient transport to my appointments?

Patient transport services are being used to transport people who have been discharged from hospital, which means they are under more pressure than usual.

To help ease this pressure, patients whose treatment is still going ahead are being asked to see if a friend, family, or household member can take them to their appointment. Friends, family or household members should not take you if they have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have symptoms.

Patient transport services are still available for certain patients, but the eligibility guidelines have changed. Transport is available for:

  • Patients who are classed as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus and who need to attend ongoing care appointments or treatment but have no access to private travel. 
  • Patients suspected of having coronavirus who need to attend ongoing care appointments and have no access to private travel.
  • Patients with life-sustaining care needs who need to attend a care setting, such as for dialysis, and have no access to private travel.
  • Patient transport services will be taking additional precautions, including extra cleaning, to make sure that patients can travel safely.
  • If you are unsure if you should still be attending your treatment, speak to your hospital clinician for advice.

Care and support

I already have social care, what will happen to it?

If you normally receive care and support in your own home this should continue even if you become unwell and are advised to self-isolate.

Care staff have received additional information and guidance about how to look after people and ensure the virus doesn’t spread.

However, care services may be busier than usual and will no doubt also have some staff that need to take time off unwell. As a result you might experience changes to your normal services such as seeing different care workers or receiving visits at different times of day.

If you have concerns or are experiencing difficulties getting the help you need, contact your care provider and/or your local council for help.

I don’t have social care currently, but what if my needs change?

If you feel your needs have changed and you can no longer cope at home without support, you should contact your local authority and speak to them about this.

It is expected that care services will be busier than usual over the coming weeks and months and as such you may have to wait longer than usual to get support.

It might be a good idea to talk to family, friends or trusted neighbours to see if they can help you in the meantime.

Hospital discharge

If you are currently in hospital or are admitted as a result of coronavirus, there are a few things it's worth knowing about how the discharge process will work during the outbreak:

  1. You and your family should have the current discharge process clearly explained to you as you're admitted to hospital. They should also be given a leaflet explaining this process.
  2. You'll be reviewed regularly during your time in hospital and once it's agreed you no longer need to be in hospital, staff will explain the next steps you'll will be discharged quickly with the necessary support. You should be given a short leaflet explaining what to expect either if you can go home or shuold you need to move to another location for further care.
  3. Once moved to the next agreed location – that may be back at home, into a community hospital or into a care home  you may then have a more detailed assessment.
  4. The NHS will pay for any follow-on care that it's agreed that you need when discharged. This should be explained by staff, including how long this isl ikely to last and what happens next.

To help reduce pressures on the NHS, you may be asked if friends and family can transport you home. This should be done in line with Government guidance, and they should not transport you if you or they have any symptoms of coronavirus. You may also be transported by volunteers or, if this is not possible, the NHS patient transport service.


Useful numbers

Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565

Free, confidential information and guidance, 8am to 7pm, 365 days a year.

The Silver Line: 0800 4 70 80 90

Call for a cheerful chat, day or night. 

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Last updated: Apr 03 2020

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