Find out changes to our services and advice in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus: Shielding FAQs

Shielding is the term given to support for people most vulnerable to severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19), due to specific underlying health conditions. These people have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

Why are we trying to identify this group?

We are working with partners to identify anyone who is in an extremely vulnerable group because of health issues. If people in this group contract Coronavirus (COVID-19), they are more at risk of serious illness.

The Scottish Government and UK governments are asking them to stay home for 12 weeks, so we need to support them in extra ways, to ensure they can do that.

Perth & Kinross Council want to be aware of anyone in the region who is in this group. If you think that you, or a family member or friend should be shielded, let us know immediately by emailing communitysupport@pkc.gov.uk or by calling 0345 30 111 00. This number is staffed from 8:45am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday this week and Monday to Friday every week.

What does 'shielding' mean?

Shielding means taking extra measures to protect people who are, due to health issues, extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between them and anybody else. We are strongly advising people with these serious underlying health conditions (listed below) to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

Who is in the 'shielded' group?

Official health advice is very clear on who is in this group. Please read carefully to understand if you are in this group. The criteria applies to children as well as adults.

You should be shielded if you are one of the below:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.
  2. People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

What you should do:

You should stay home for 12 weeks, avoiding face to face contact wherever possible. This period may be extended.

If you have someone else living with you, they are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves. They will have to follow strict guidelines. These are detailed below.

What should you do if you have someone else living with you?

Not everyone has to adopt the strict shielding measures, only the person in each household who as the underlying health condition. However, there are precautions which you must take:

  1. Try and spend as little time as possible in shared spaces in the house. Keep shared spaces well ventilated.
  2. Keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, you should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
  3. If you do share a toilet and bathroom with others, it is important that they are cleaned after use every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.
  4. If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they are present. If you can, you should take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family's used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
  5. We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

If the rest of your household stringently follow advice on social distancing and minimise the risk of spreading the virus within the home by following the advice above, there is no need for them to also shield alongside you.

What should you do if you live alone?

Contact regular visitors to your home, such as friends and family to let them know that you are shielding and that they should not visit you during this time unless they are providing essential care for you. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing or feeding. Anybody who must come in to your home should wash their hands for 20 seconds and should stay in your home for a short amount of time.

Food

If you need help getting food, the Scottish Government has set up a scheme that will deliver a food parcel to your door. This is being managed by Scottish Government, not by us at Perth and Kinross Council. If you need a food delivery, make sure you are registered via the text number (07860064525) on your Shielding letter. Do not ask a relative or neighbour to text using their phone on your behalf, the system may not register that number.  If you need help getting registered, let us know, we can help you register.

Ask friends, family and neighbours to help where you can.  Perth and Kinross Council is currently putting together lists of volunteer groups who will help those who have to stay at home. If you think you will need any support at all while you are shielded at home, we will help. Please contact us as soon as possible on communitysupport@pkc.gov.uk.

Medicine

Every effort is being made to help pharmacies to deliver prescriptions. Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual. If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:

  1. Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy (this is the best option, if possible).
  2. Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) or deliver it to you.
  3. Contacting Perth and Kinross council on communitysupport@pkc.gov.uk and we will try to help.

You may also need to arrange for collection or delivery of hospital specialist medication that is prescribed to you by your hospital care team.

If you receive support from health and social care organisations, for example, if you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal. Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected.

What do you do if you have regular carers?

Visits from people who provide essential support to you such as healthcare, personal support with your daily needs or social care should continue, but carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus. All people coming to your home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your house and often while they are there.

Have an alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell. Email or call us at Perth Council if you are concerned. (communitysupport@pkc.gov.uk).

Hospital and GP appointments

Official health advice is that everyone to access medical assistance by phone, email or online if possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or specialist to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and determine which of these appointments are absolutely essential.

It is possible that your hospital may need to cancel or postpone some clinics and appointments. You should contact your hospital or clinic to confirm appointments.

Financial assistance

The letter you will receive from the Chief Medical Officer is evidence for your employer that you cannot work outside the home and you don't need a separate fit note.

If you've been financially affected by coronavirus, and if you're eligible, you should apply for Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this process easier. Find out more at https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/. The Council's Coronavirus: Benefits team can help.

Money Talk Team, from the Citizens Advice network in Scotland, can help you see what benefits you might be entitled to, and offer you advice to help make your money go further. You can call the team on 0800 085 7145 or visit the Money Talk Team website at https://financialhealthcheck.scot/home.