Coronavirus FAQs For Vulnerable People in Calderdale

The following FAQs for Vulnerable People have been put together by Calderdale Council to help people understand what help is available during these difficult times. It is aimed at those who may be more vulnerable to the disease itself or the disruption it causes.

Are you in need of additional support? You can contact Calderdale Council via:
website – www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus-covid-19/support-extremely-vulnerable

If you don’t have internet access you can call 01422 392890.

General FAQs

Who might be vulnerable to COVID-19?
People can be vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 for a number of reasons. Some people are vulnerable to the disease itself. These are people who have serious medical conditions which make them more likely to get unwell if they catch COVID-19. Others are vulnerable due to the disruption caused by the disease. People who rely on carers, people with limited support from family or friends, or people who can’t access internet services may be affected more by the changes in everyday life caused by COVID-19. Some people may be vulnerable to both the disease itself and to the disruption caused by the disease.

Many people feel vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 not just the elderly and those with medical conditions. If you, or someone you know, are in need of support during this time see below for details of how the council and partners can help.

What does ‘Shielding’ mean?
The shielding guidance covers those at highest risk of becoming unwell if they get COVID-19 (the clinically extremely vulnerable) who have been added to the shielding list. These are people with specific medical conditions who have been contacted by the NHS. These people were advised to ‘shield’ by avoiding all contact with others outside their household.

How has the shielding guidance changed?
From 1st August 2020 the Government shielding guidance is being lifted and people who have been shielding should adopt strict social distancing of 2 metres rather than full shielding measures. This means you may go out to more places and see more people. If you have been shielding you will still be vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 so you should still take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble. Keep at least 2 metres from other people, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

We completely appreciate that some of you, and your loved ones, have been shielding since March. It is understandable that you may feel anxious and concerned about the easing of shielding and what it will mean for you. While the guidance is clear, in Calderdale we want to ensure that all our shielded residents can be supported in the best way and with the support of their community.

You can request support from the council by contacting them at:

I have been shielding – can I go back to work/school?
Once the shielding guidance is lifted you should continue to work from home if you can. If you can’t work from home you can return to work as long as the workplace is COVID-secure. Speak to your employer to see what this means for you. It is against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of your age, sex, disability, race or ethnicity. If you need advice on your employment rights you can contact Acas here or on 0300 123 1100.

Children who have been shielding will be able to return to school when the rest of their class goes back.

I’m worried about the changes to the shielding guidance – what help is there?
It’s normal to feel anxious and worried at difficult times like these and there is support available. If you are worried about your specific health circumstances your GP or specialist should be able to help. If you need help managing anxiety or other mental health problems you can either see your GP or Calderdale residents can also access free support from Healthy Minds (see www.healthymindscalderdale.co.uk or call 01422 345154) or via the 24 hour mental health helpline on 0800 183 0558.

What about restrictions on what you can do in Calderdale?
As we move out of lockdown the restrictions on what we can all do will change. It is important that if you are vulnerable to COVID-19 you keep up to date with what you should and should not be doing. We will keep communicating these changes with residents of Calderdale through a range of channels. Another frequently asked questions document will be shared describing the changes brought in on 31 st July 2020.

Who else is vulnerable to COVID-19?
There is a second group of people who are more at risk who don’t meet the criteria for shielding. This group includes anyone over the age of 70 and those under the age of 70 who would usually be invited to have the annual flu jab. This includes people with a range of medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and certain lung conditions.

Whether you are on the shielding list or not you can request support from the council by contacting them at:

Who is vulnerable due to the disruption caused by the disease?
Everyone will be affected in some way by the disruption caused by COVID-19. These changes might mean it is difficult to carry out our usual activities. Some people may have family and friends who can help but others may not have anyone to ask for assistance. People may be affected for many reasons including the following:

  • Any households with a new continuous cough or a high temperature should stay at home entirely for up to 14 days (also known as household isolation).
  • Anyone who has been asked to stay at home by the NHS Test and Trace service as they may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

We should all be minimising contact with others unless we are leaving the house for work, to shop, to get medical care, to exercise or to socialise in small groups (also known as social distancing). For some people, these changes will have a much bigger impact. Many people with disabilities will find it hard to reduce contact with others due to ongoing care needs. Activities such as visiting the supermarket or pharmacy might be more difficult and being asked to stay at home might lead to social isolation and loneliness. For families, having to isolate might make it difficult to provide food for children or to continue to provide care for vulnerable relatives.

What help is available and how can I access this?
It can be difficult to know how to get help during this time. Many people who have never needed help before may need help due to the disruption brought about by COVID-19. If you need help or advice, you can contact the council.

A system has been set up to provide access to a wide range of services so regardless of what you need the council should be able to help. If you have access to the internet you can complete the form here and someone will be in touch. If you don’t have access to the internet you can call 01422 392890.

Requests for help will be dealt with according to need. Those with a higher level of need will be dealt with by our social care team. Those with a lower level of need will be passed to the volunteer hub where volunteers from across Calderdale will be able to help.

Examples of help available include shopping, collection of medications, a friendly phone call, dog walking, posting of mail and more.

The Council are working closely with the voluntary sector to ensure that offers of support from voluntary and charity organisations are accessible to those who need them. Details of local support are available at:
www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/sites/default/files/Directory-of-Local-Support-Groups.pdf If you do not have internet access, the volunteer hub can link you in to groups in your area. Call 01422 392890 to register for help.

What other help is available?
In addition to the help offered by the council, a range of other organisations are able to offer support. The council can put you in touch with many local and national voluntary organisations that provide a range of help and advice. There are lots of national organisations you can contact directly for advice regarding specific medical conditions. Examples include Macmillan for those with cancer, the British Heart Foundation for those with heart conditions, and Mencap for those with a learning disability. Local organisations you can contact include:

  • Citizens Advice offer a range of advice on financial and benefits advice – see www.calderdalecab.org.uk/ or call 0300 330 9048 for details.
  • Healthy Minds Calderdale is a local mental health charity which can help support those in emotional distress – see www.healthymindscalderdale.co.uk or call 01422 345154.
  • Halifax Society for the Blind provide support to those with sight loss and can be contacted Mon-Fri 9-5pm on 01422 352383 or by email at info@halifaxblindsociety.org.uk
  • The Calderdale Council of Mosques represents Muslims across Calderdale and can be contacted at info@calderdalecouncilofmosques.com
  • St Augustine’s supports refugees, asylum seekers and migrants regardless of faith, ethnicity or background. Contact 07743045625 or 07756262024 10am – 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays or visit www.staugustinescentrehalifax.org.uk/

I’m worried about shopping for food – can I get help?
If you’re not able to leave the house to shop, not able to access online shopping and don’t have friends or family to help with shopping, help is available through the council. The national food delivery system for those on the shielding list will finish on 1 st August 2020 although you will still be able to access priority supermarket delivery slots. The council is still supporting those who need help whether they are on the shielding list or not.

There is a range of support available through the council. Volunteers can help with shopping and for those with money worries there are a number of food banks providing food to those in need across Calderdale. A list of these is available at www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/tackling-poverty-calderdale/food-banks or if you don’t have internet access the council can put you in touch if you call 01422 392890.

The council is currently looking at how to meet dietary requirements (for example vegetarian, lactose free). Cash handling advice is available on the council website and a directory of local shops, many of whom can deliver, is also available at www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/community-support

If you need help please contact the council here or call 01422 392890.

I’m worried about access to medications – can I get help?
If you are unable to visit the pharmacy to collect regular medications there are a number of ways you can access help. Contact your pharmacy to see if they can deliver to your home. The council volunteers can also help with delivery of medications to you. Contact the council here or call 01422 392890.

I have other health needs – what should I do?
It is important to remember that although COVID-19 is a big concern, other health problems should not be ignored. This includes physical health problems such as diabetes and angina, and also mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. If you need to see your GP, phone to make an appointment. You should not go to your GP without an appointment (this is particularly important if you are on the shielding list). If you are unable to contact your GP the NHS 111 service is available online or via the phone. In an emergency, call 999 for help. Please don’t
ignore medical problems which you think are important or urgent.

I’m worried about going into hospital – what should I do?
It is important to get medical help if it is needed. Hospitals are working hard to protect patients who don’t have COVID-19 who need to go to hospital. You may wish to think about what you would want to happen to you in hospital. Hospital passports are a useful way of giving the doctors and nurses all the information they need to care for you, especially if you have particular needs or preferences
www.includemetoo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Hospital-Communication-Passport.pdf

I’ve heard that some people have been scammed – how can I avoid this?
Unfortunately we are aware that some people are trying to take advantage of the vulnerable people. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank, mortgage lender or utility company you should not give out any personal details. Those on the shielding list might receive legitimate phone calls from the council or a company called Capita on behalf of the Government. If you are unsure, it is OK to question why people are calling and you can refuse to provide any information if you think it could be a scam.

The NHS Test and Trace service may contact you by text message, phone or email if they think you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. Calls will come from 0300 013 5000 and text messages will come from NHStracing. You will be asked to provide some basic personal information, and then asked about any symptoms you may have and people you have been in contact with. You will never be asked for any payment, details of your bank account or PIN number. Contact tracers will never ask you to call back on premium rate phone numbers (for example those starting with 09 or 087) or ask you to download anything to your computer or phone. If anyone you weren’t expecting arrives at your door you should ask to see their identification. Council volunteers will be provided with a letter confirming they are working with the council. You can contact the council on 01422 392890 if you want to confirm a volunteer’s identity.

FAQs for those receiving care

I receive help from a home care agency – will this be affected?
People who need the support of carers will continue to receive this support. The council has been working with home care providers to give them up to date information based on the latest national guidance. Planning has been carried out to keep care services going throughout the COVID-19 response. If your regular home care worker is not available an alternative care worker will be provided.

I live in a care home – will this be affected?
The council has been working with care homes to provide up to date information based on the latest national guidance. Planning has been carried out which includes advice and support on infection control and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

I am a recipient of Direct Payments – will this be affected?
This has been a particularly concerning time for those who receive Direct Payments. Many people employ their own Personal Assistants leading to concerns not only about the virus itself but responsibilities as an employer. Planning has been carried out to ensure those who receive direct payments are supported throughout the COVID-19 response. Personal Assistants can be provided with ID to show they are keyworkers and are also able to access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If a Personal Assistant is not available to provide care because they are unwell, are having to isolate due to household illness or have been advised to shield, they should still be paid. The council will fund the cost of a replacement Personal Assistant. Further information will be provided directly to recipients of direct payments. Please contact the Direct Payments Team on 01422 – 393370 for further advice.