How to care for the elderly during the coronavirus lockdown

Please note: this information has been last updated on 31st March 2020 – please consult government guidelines for the most up-to-date information.

As of March 23rd 2020, the UK government has requested that people stay at home for three weeks, to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. You may only leave your home for ‘very limited purposes’. This has a big impact on how we should care for and help the elderly at this time.

Below you can find clear advice about how to care for your elderly loved ones following the lockdown announcement. 

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Elderly care advice FAQ:

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I visit vulnerable elderly relatives to help care for them. Can I continue to do so during the coronavirus lockdown?

Yes – the government has advised that you are still able to leave your home if you need to provide care or help any vulnerable person. This includes the elderly. If the person you are visiting does not have any caring needs, we recommend not entering their home. However, you can still drop off shopping for them and communicate through a window if possible.

Can I visit other elderly relatives during the coronavirus lockdown?

The government advice is that you can still leave your home to provide care or help to a vulnerable person, which does include the elderly. However, due to the possible infection risks, it is recommended you only visit them if it is essential. We understand that many people will be feeling lonely and worried during this period, so please use other forms of communication such as regular phone calls or video chats if possible.

Should my elderly relatives have any non-essential visitors during lockdown?

No, only essential visitors should enter the home of your elderly relatives due to the increased risk this virus has on the elderly generation.

What precautions should I take when making essential visits to elderly people in their home during the coronavirus lockdown?

If you must visit the elderly to help care for them, please ensure you stay at least two meters away from them if possible, no kissing or hugging, wash your hands thoroughly on arrival and when you leave. Also, disinfect any surfaces you may come into contact with, i.e. door handles, countertops, taps etc.

Should I take my elderly relative to existing medical appointments during the coronavirus outbreak?

The government has advised everyone to seek remote medical assistance where possible, either through phone appointments or video calls. However, if you have a scheduled appointment, phone your GP or clinician for specific advice regarding your circumstances before your appointment date.

If I live with a vulnerable elderly person, what should I consider during this period of lockdown?

It is important that people in the household follow government advice and only leave the house if it is essential to do so, and make sure that hygiene and infection control guidelines are followed when they come back into the house. This includes washing hands, cleaning any surfaces they have come in contact with (phone, door handles etc.).

In addition to this it is also advised to speak with your elderly relatives and other household members early, and make a plan together about what to do if anyone in the house develops coronavirus symptoms. For example, how to isolate and protect your elderly relative from this, including in the plan items like how to effectively clean the bathroom after each use particularly if you must share.

How can you stay in contact with elderly relatives during the coronavirus lockdown if you do not live with them?

Lockdown will be a very lonely and worrying time for many people, specifically the elderly if they live alone. We would encourage you to remain in contact with your relatives as much as possible through frequent phone calls or video chats. If your loved one is not tech savvy, you could also write letters as, for now, the postal service is still in operation.

Should I take my elderly relatives outside so they can get some exercise during the coronavirus lockdown?

No, elderly people are one of the most at risk demographics and because of this it has been advised that they try to stay at home during this period. Instead try to encourage some light exercise within the house to help keep them mobile at this time.

Can I use the time allocated to the vulnerable at supermarkets to do the shopping for my elderly relative?

No, the hours that many supermarkets have set aside are to allow only those who are vulnerable to enter the shop where there is a lowered risk of contamination. Therefore, if you are shopping on behalf of someone else, please use the normal shopping hours.

How can I prove to the police i'm going to care for my elderly relative during lockdown?

The police may stop and question individuals found outside during the lockdown. This is purely for your safety and is not something to worry about.

You are allowed to leave your home to provide essential care or support to a vulnerable person (this includes the elderly). If the police question you, simply tell them what you are doing and you will not be fined. However, if you are worried about this, and your relative is receiving professional care, we would recommend asking for a short letter from their carer or GP to confirm your care assistance is required.

The NHS are looking to discharge my elderly relative from hospital, what care will they get during the coronavirus lockdown?

The NHS are actively trying to relieve pressure within hospitals and increase the number of available beds to ensure they are in a position to effectively manage Coronavirus. For their own health and safety, your loved one may be discharged as soon as it is clinically safe to do so. If your loved one requires care upon discharge, your local authority will offer to help find a care at home service.

However, as these services are also likely to be stretched over the coming weeks/months it is likely that where possible, support will also be needed from family or loved ones to help with their care. Care Sourcer is working with a number of local authorities to help find suitable care for vulnerable elderly people in need. If you’d like to search yourself, click here and enter your postcode to find home care agencies in your area.

What medical help is available if I become ill, not with coronavirus, during the COVID-19 outbreak?

GP’s and hospitals are still open. Should you or an elderly loved one fall ill, you will still receive the medical support required. However, the NHS is very stretched at this time, so please consider what level of support you need.

Are hospitals accepting new patients who do not have Coronavirus?

Yes, hospitals are still operating as normal, therefore they are still accepting new patients who require medical attention. However, as they are experiencing a surge of patients with Coronavirus, those with more acute illnesses may be offered alternative support.

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