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Coronavirus advice guide for carers: how to keep safe

The recent coronavirus pandemic has swept through the world, including the UK. The government and the NHS have released public health notices for the population, in order to battle the further spread of the virus. If you are experiencing symptoms, self-isolate for at least 7 days and inform your GP.

If you are a carer, you may be wondering how does the coronavirus affect you, your job and what measures you can take to protect yourself and the people you are caring for. Guardian Carers explains everything you need to know about this unprecedented situation in this article.

The most common coronavirus symptoms are high fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing. If either you or your client have any of these symptoms, communicate with the family immediately.

The coronavirus pandemic must be taken seriously by us all, regardless of age, status or job. As a carer, it is understandable that you are performing duties which involve close contact with your clients. Nevertheless, you should try to adhere as much as possible to the coronavirus precautionary measures, which the NHS and the government have advised on.

Coronavirus precautionary measures

While the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are the ones most at risk of getting the coronavirus, this doesn’t mean that the rest of us are excluded. Everyone should take precautionary measures in order to avoid getting the virus. As a carer, you should especially look after your health and your client’s health too. The NHS advice on coronavirus is:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • When coughing, always use a tissue and dispose of it
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean contact surfaces such as door knobs, sink taps, cupboard doors, tables, chairs with alcohol-based solutions daily
  • Avoid close contact with other people, such as shaking hands or kisses on the cheeks
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Limit unessential social contact
  • Limit the time you spend outside, especially in public transport or taxis
  • Do not go outside for any unnecessary errands
  • Ask delivery persons to leave parcels in front of the door
  • Avoid going to the supermarket and have your groceries delivered instead
  • Avoid going to restaurants, pubs or public places
  • Avoid public gatherings of 10 or more people
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Keep hydrated throughout the day

Coronavirus health advice for live-out carers

As a carer, you have a client-facing job, which requires you to have a hands-on approach. Your duties will differentiate depending on the level of care needed by each specific client. You may be conducting a role which mainly focuses on companionship, or you may be involved in tasks such as personal care.

If you are doing a role which involves mostly companionship, you can protect yourself and the person that you are caring for in a number of ways:

  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day and carry a bottle of sanitiser with you
  • Clean contact surfaces such as door knobs, sink taps, cupboard doors, tables, chairs with alcohol-based solutions daily
  • Avoid crowded areas such as supermarkets or restaurants
  • Take your temperature daily, as well as your client’s
  • Try to adjust the way you travel. If you are using public transport, avoid travelling in rush hour, do not hold the handrail and maintain a safe distance from other commuters
  • If possible, do not use public transport. In some cases, families may be able to offer you a travel allowance, which can be used on cab fares
  • After arriving at your client’s home, wash your hands before interacting with anyone in the home
  • If normally you hug or kiss your clients, avoid doing this
  • If your job doesn’t involve moving and handling, keep a safe distance of 1 meter from your client or anyone else in the home
  • Monitor any changes in your health or your client’s health and inform the family
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, such as fever or cough, self-isolate for 7 days. Talk to your employer and if you work with an agency, ask them to send a replacement until you can return to work
  • As a precautionary measure, you may call the NHS and ask to be tested

Coronavirus health advice for live-in carers

If you are a carer working on a live-in basis, most of the same conditions apply to you as well. It’s important that you keep an eye out for slight changes in your health, as well as your client’s health. Here is the coronavirus guidance you should follow:

  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day and carry a bottle of sanitiser with you
  • Take your temperature daily, as well as your client’s
  • Clean contact surfaces, such as door knobs, sink taps or cupboard doors with alcohol-based cleaning solutions
  • Monitor any changes in your health or your client’s health and inform the family
  • If you regularly run errands, try to limit going outside if it’s not necessary. In the case of grocery shopping, for example, you can speak to the family and have groceries delivered at home
  • Do not go into close contact with delivery persons
  • If you do need to go outside, maintain a safe distance and avoid large crowds
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, such as fever or cough, self-isolate for 7 days. Talk to your employer and if you work with an agency, ask them to send a replacement until you can return to work
  • As a precautionary measure, you may call the NHS and ask to be tested

If you show symptoms such as high fever, persistent cough or are experiencing any breathing difficulties, you should seek advice by visiting the NHS website for further assistance. If you think that you’ve been in contact with a person with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you should call 111 for advice as soon as possible. Do not forget to mention that you are a carer!

If you have any symptoms, which you believe are connected to the coronavirus, do not go to your GP or A&E. Instead, visit 111.nhs.uk.

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