Vulnerable Individuals

Last updated 19 May 2020.

For the latest information please visit gov.uk/coronavirus

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay alert in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

As part of this plan:

  • People and employers should stay safe in public spaces and workplaces by following “COVID-19 secure” guidelines. This should enable more people to go back to work, where they cannot work from home, and encourage more vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to go to school or childcare as already permitted
  • You should stay alert when you leave home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distancing, and ensuring you do not gather in groups of more than two, except with members of your household or for other specific exceptions set out in law
  • You must continue to stay home except for a limited set of reasons but - in line with scientific advice - can take part in more outdoor activities

The government has set out a roadmap for lifting further restrictions and opening more businesses and venues, but this plan is dependent on successfully controlling the spread of the virus. If the evidence shows sufficient progress is not being made in controlling the virus, then the lifting of restrictions may have to be delayed. If, after lifting restrictions, the government sees a concerning rise in the infection rate, then it may have to re-impose some restrictions in as targeted a way as possible.

Extremely Vulnerable People

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they’re in this group or been told by their GP. I know many people are unsure whether their long-term health condition meets the criteria for this definition and so I have provided the criteria used by the NHS below: 

Clinically extremely vulnerable people may include the following people. Disease severity, history or treatment levels will also affect who is in the group.

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.

  2. People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • 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 chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD).

  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as Severe combined immunodeficiency (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.

If you believe one of the above criteria applies to you and you have not received any letter from the NHS or your GP, please contact them in the first instance. If you are unable to do so please contact me using my website and I will look into this for you. 

Help for those shielding or self-isolating

Everyone who has received a letter advising that they are clinically extremely vulnerable should register online. You should register even if you don't need support at this time. You can register by going to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or by calling 0800 028 8327. Have your NHS Number with you when you register. This will at the top of the letter you have received letting you know you are clinically extremely vulnerable, or on any prescriptions.

If you have not received a letter and so are not shielding, but are self-isolating and need support, please contact Burnley Together for help. This organisation is working across Lancashire County Council, Burnley Council, Calico, Burnley FC In The Community, CVS and myself, to ensure everyone who needs help gets it. 

You can contact Burnley Together by emailing contact@burnleytogether.org.uk or calling 01282 686402 (7 days a week, 9am to 5pm).

Guidance for those living with an extremely vulnerable person

The rest of your household do not need to start shielding themselves, but they should do what they can to support you in shielding and to carefully follow guidance on social distancing.

At home you should:

  1. Minimise the time other people living with you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

  2. Keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. 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 share a toilet and bathroom with others, it’s important that they are cleaned every time after use (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). 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’re present. If you can, 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. Everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

If the rest of your household are able to follow this guidance, there is no need for them to take the full protective measures to keep you safe. They can, therefore, continue to go to work if they can't work from home, exercise once a day, and shop for essential items. 

Help for the elderly 

Things you can do to support yourself

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust over the phone about your concerns and how you are feeling.

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/coronavirus/staying-safe-and-well-at-home/staying-safe/