This page hasn’t been updated since the Government announced a new lockdown on 4 January 2021. If you have questions, please email [email protected]

COVID-19: Advice for carers

With COVID-19 infections on the rise again, it’s critical that we don’t let our guard down. Now is the time to show diligence, professionalism and dedication. During the previous peak, your heroic efforts saved lives. As the number of people with COVID-19 increases, we’re asking for the same fantastic effort once again.

We’re here to support you every step of the way. We’ve tried to cover all the questions you might have on this page. But if there’s something you’re unsure about, all you have to do is call.

Of course, throughout this unprecedented period, we need carers to apply for placements more than ever.

Do your bit to reduce the spread of infection

We all need to do our bit to reduce the impact of COVID-19. To minimise the risk of infection, it’s important you continue to follow Government advice. Although specific guidance changes depending on your tier, there are some things that remain constant throughout the country:

Wash your hands

Sanitise or wash your hands regularly. The latter for at least 20 seconds

Cover your face

When you’re out and about, keep your face covered with a clean mask.

Keep your distance

Remain at least two metres apart from anyone not in your household at all times.

Avoid public spaces

Minimise interactions with other households, regardless of the tier you’re in.

Don’t touch your face

If you don’t have a tissue to hand, use your sleeve to prevent spread.

Catch coughs

Catch any coughs and sneezes and dispose of the tissue securely.

During the first peak, Elder was 83% safer than residential care. If we pull together, we can be just as resilient this time.

Using your personal protective equipment

We’ve done our best to ensure you receive personal protective equipment while you’re on a placement. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been sending our customers the following:

Mask

Gloves

Aprons

To find out more about how to use your PPE effectively, we’ve created this short, walk-through guide that tells you everything you need to know.

Download the NHS Track and Trace app. This will tell you if it’s likely you’ve been exposed to the virus.

Tiers explained

Last week, the Government announced a three-tier system for England, which means different rules will apply to you and your clients, depending on your postcode. If you don’t know your tier, rest assured, because it’s easy to find. Check your local restrictions on the UK Government website here.

Tier one

Tier one is classified as a ‘medium risk’ area. However, don’t let this stop you being vigilant and If you’re caring for someone in a tier-one area, please follow the government ‘hands, face, space’ guidance, as well as downloading the NHS track and trace app.

Here’s an overview of tier one and the advice we’ve given to customers in these areas:

ActivityGovernment adviceExtra precaution
Length of restrictionsReviewed every 28 days.
Meeting peopleMeet up to six others, both indoors and outdoors, at home or in public.We’d recommend that you avoid in-person meeting. It increases the risk of infection. Try meeting online instead.
TravellingNo restrictions on travel.We recommend avoiding public transport where possible.
Staying overnightYou’re allowed to stay overnight, in a group of up to six. It doesn’t matter whether they’re from your household or not.We’d advise against gatherings with your elderly love one
WorkingWork from home if possible.It’s especially important to avoid in-person contact with your loved one if you can’t work from home.
ShoppingShops remain open, but you must wear a mask inside.Shop online where possible. Read tips on securing a slot.
Going outRestaurants, pubs, cafés and other hospitality venues remain open but close at 10pm. You can meet a group of up to six. It doesn’t matter whether they’re from your household or not.Avoid unnecessary trips to public spaces. If you do choose to go, get an outside seat where possible.
Staying fitAll gyms and sports facilities remain open.Continue to stay active. Choose activities where you can remain home or outside and socially distanced where possible.
WorshippingPlaces of worship, such as churches, mosques and synagogues can remain open.Check where your place of worship is running virtual sessions
Visiting public buildingsLibraries, community centres etc. remain open.See whether a friend or neighbour can deliver books.

Tier two

Tier two is classified as a ‘high-risk’ area. If you’re caring for one of our customers in this area, we’re asking you to take extra precautions to help keep people safe.

If you’re living in a tier two area

We’ll be inviting you to complete the ‘declaration on your current state of health’ form (as we currently do) 72 hours prior to starting a placement. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, we encourage you to self isolate for three days prior to any placement in these areas.

In the event that you develop COVID 19 symptoms during the time you are self-isolating, you come into contact with someone that has tested positive COVID, or are contacted by NHS Track and trace to self isolate, then you must inform Elder HQ immediately so we can arrange a replacement carer.

If you’re working in a tier two area

If you’re looking after a client in a tier two area, we’re asking you to:

Here’s an overview of tier two and the advice we’ve given to customers in these areas:

ActivityGovernment adviceExtra precaution
Length of restrictionsLast for 28 days but reviewed every 14 days.
Meeting peopleMeet up to six others outdoors in public. But only inside if in your household or support bubble.We’d recommend that you avoid in-person meeting. It increases the risk of infection. Try meeting online instead.
TravellingTravel should be limited to when visiting work, shops or open hospitality venues.We recommend limiting all travel, especially public transport and look at home delivery.
Staying overnightYou can’t stay overnight somewhere with those outside your household or support bubble.We’d advise against meeting your elderly loved one in person, even if they’re in your support bubble – provided they have a carer.
WorkingWork from home if possible.It’s especially important to avoid in-person contact with your loved one if you can’t work from home.
ShoppingShops remain open, but you must wear a mask inside.Avoid the high-street, shop online. Read tips on securing a slot.
Going outRestaurants, pubs, cafés and other hospitality venues remain open but close at 10pm. You can meet a group of up to six in your household or bubble inside. You can meet up to six, not in your household or bubble, outside.We’d strongly advise you do not visit any hospitality venues.
Staying fitAll gyms and sports facilities remain open.Continue to stay active. Choose activities where you can remain home or outside and socially distanced where possible.
WorshippingPlaces of worship, such as churches, mosques and synagogues can remain open provided households are not mixing indoors.Check where your place of worship is running virtual sessions and practice worship at home.
Visiting public buildingsLibraries, community centres etc. remain open.See whether a friend or neighbour can deliver books. Avoid where possible.

Tier three

Tier three is classified as a ‘very-high’ risk area. You should treat the situation in tier three zones very seriously. We have additional policies on top of tier two.

If you’re currently living in a tier three area

As per the tier two advice. But also, since these areas are on high alert, we ask that you help us contain the virus, in line with Government guidance. Your placements will be restricted to that area alone in an attempt to avoid any unnecessary travel which could increase the risk of transmission to another tier.

If you’re working in a tier three area

In order to protect the health and safety of our clients and carers, we’ll be asking you to: extend your placement for as long as you are practically and able to do so. We recognise that this may be difficult, so it’s important that you consider your own health and wellbeing, alongside your clients when making these decisions.

Here’s an overview of tier three and the advice we’ve given to customers in these areas:

ActivityGovernment adviceExtra precaution
Length of restrictionsReviewed every 28 days.
Meeting peopleMeet up to six others outdoors in public. But only inside if in your household or support bubble.We’d recommend that you avoid in-person meeting. It increases the risk of infection. Try meeting online instead.
TravellingTravel should be limited to when visiting work, shops or open hospitality venues. You shouldn’t travel out of your local authority area.We recommend limiting all travel, especially public transport and look at home delivery.
Staying overnightYou can’t stay overnight somewhere with those outside your household or support bubble.We’d advise against meeting your elderly loved one in person, even if they’re in your support bubble – provided they have a carer.
WorkingWork from home if possible.It’s especially important to avoid in-person contact with your loved one if you can’t work from home.
ShoppingShops remain open, but you must wear a mask inside.Avoid the high-street, shop online. Read tips on securing a slot.
Going outRestaurants, pubs, cafés and other hospitality venues are subject to closure – this is something that has varied from one region to the next.Regardless of whether they’re open e’d strongly advise you do not visit any hospitality venues.
Staying fitGyms and sports facilities are open in some tier three regions and closed in others.Continue to stay active. Choose activities where you can remain home or outside and socially distanced where possible.
WorshippingPlaces of worship, such as churches, mosques and synagogues can remain open provided households are not mixing indoors.Check where your place of worship is running virtual sessions and practice worship at home.
Visiting public buildingsLibraries, community centres etc. remain open.See whether a friend or neighbour can deliver books. Avoid where possible.

Tier four

This is the highest risk tier that has been placed on parts of the UK where a new strain of COVID-19 has been found. This strain is thought to be a lot easier for people to pass between each other.

ActivityGovernment adviceExtra precaution
Length of restrictionReviewed every 14 days
Meeting peopleMeet up to one person outdoors not from household. You can visit people who are in your support bubbleWe’d advise socialising online if possible and strongly advise against visiting people in-person, unless it’s completely essential.
TravellingYou must not travel unless essential and shouldn’t leave a tier four area.
Staying overnight You’re allowed to visit your support bubble and stay overnight with them. Otherwise, it’s not permitted.If you don’t need to be there in person, switch the meetup to online instead.
WorkingWork from home if possible.It’s especially important to avoid in-person contact with your loved one if you aren’t able to work from home, as you’ll be at a greater risk of spreading the infection.
ShoppingOnly essential shops remain openAvoid going to the shops where possible. Order online if you’re able to do so instead. Work with your carer to arrange grocery and prescription deliveries.
Going outRestaurants, pubs, cafés and other hospitality venues are closed.
Staying fitGyms are closed.Continue to stay active. Choose activities where you can remain home or outside and socially distanced where possible.
WorshippingPlaces of worship, such as churches, mosques and synagogues, can remain open provided households are not mixing indoors.Check where your place of worship is running virtual sessions and practice worship at home.
Visiting public buildingLibraries, community centres etc. must close, with few exceptions

Frequently asked questions

COVID-19 is causing confusion and concern for everyone. But, as you’re on the front-line, working with some of the people most at risk from the pandemic, it’s likely you have a lot of questions.

Given the circumstances, we’ve tried to answer some of the ones we’re most frequently asked by the carers we work with on COVID-19. This advice applies to both for those who are and aren’t on placement.

General COVID-19 questions

What is COVID-19 and what are the symptoms?

COVID-19 is a new virus in the coronavirus family. The microbiology of the virus means it largely impacts the respiratory tract, impacting breathing. We’re still in the early stages of our understanding, but what has become apparent is that it disproportionately impacts those over 70 or with underlying health conditions.

The symptoms of coronavirus vary significantly depending on severity. Most people will simply show mild symptoms, which will be easily confused with a common cold.

In many cases, those who contract the virus will experience moderate symptoms, such as a persistent dry cough, a fever, and shortness of breath.

In severe cases these can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, which are critical and potential life-threatening.

How serious is COVID-19 for the elderly?

It can be very serious. The elderly are the group of people at the most risk from the virus. Current data from the World Health Organisation shows that 10-20% of the over 80s who contract the virus could die from it.

What can I do to minimise risk of infection for both me and my client?

You should take note of the Government guidance for the area you’re in. But, more than this, you should minimise social contact with other people while on placement. Replace trips to the shops and the pharmacy with online deliveries. Encourage family members to stay away. If you do go into public remain two metres apart from others at all times.

What is good personal hygiene?

The basic principle is ensuring you keep yourself as clean as possible, especially after being in environments where you may have been exposed to the virus. Obviously, this means avoiding anyone with any cold or flu-like symptoms. On a day-to-day basis, the Government and NHS recommend:

  • Washing your hands more often, using soap and water for a least 20 seconds or hand sanitiser if you’re out and about. You should do this when you enter and exit a building, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, and before and after you eat and handle food.
  • Avoiding touching any part of your face, including eyes, nose and mouth where possible. When it’s unavoidable, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw it into a bin immediately.
  • Cleaning surfaces frequently using an antibacterial spray – ideally chlorine-based. As a rule, the more the surface is touched, the more you should clean it.
  • Making sure the house is well ventilated, by opening doors and windows.

Am I at risk of catching COVID-19 as a carer?

As a carer, you’re likely to spend more time in close contact with another person than most. However, we’ve done what we can to help you minimise the risk by providing personal protective equipment to help reduce your likelihood of contracting the virus.

Ultimately, minimising risk is all about following best practices. That means staying indoors unless it’s absolutely essential to leave the house. Whether or not you’re on a placement, you should follow the Government advice and reduce the number of people you see to all but absolutely essential meetups.

What are social distancing, self-isolation and shielding?

Social distancing

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. In general, it means avoiding seeing people, especially in groups of more than two. It is also literal in the sense you should be staying at least two metres away from people.

Self-isolation

This means isolating yourself and your client from the outside world, not leaving the house unless it’s for essential errands. This is recommended when people are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or have recently tested postive.

  • Replace face-to-face contact: Stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact with friends and family. Keep in touch with people using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media instead.
  • Stay indoors: Avoid gatherings large and small. It is now not permitted to meet up with anyone you don’t live with. You can still take your client out for exercise, but ideally this would be in the home.

Shielding

If your client has been contacted by the Government or NHS to tell them they’re in the ‘extremely vulnerable’ category, it’s now not recommended that they’re ‘shielded’ from the outside world in the same way as before. Even in tier three, your client can now go out for exercise.

However, we recommend you should take extra precautions while on placement by:

  • Keeping them in sight at all times, but staying two metres (three steps) away where possible.
  • Using a different bathroom if that’s feasible.
  • Avoiding taking them outside the house, except for exercise (socially distanced).
  • Using delivery services, rather than going to the shops yourself, where possible.
  • Using different sets of cutlery, and different towels to dry with where possible, washing utensils thoroughly with washing up liquid.

These measures can place additional stress upon you, but please remember to follow these fuels, it’s the best way to keep them safe until the peak of the pandemic has passed. Find the lastest Government guidance on shielding here.

How can I test if I have COVID-19?

If you’re showing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, the best thing you can do is follow the Government’s advice and self-isolate and get a test.

You can do this by visitng the UK Government self-referral portal. It’s best to arrange a home testing kit to minimse your potential risk of exposure to the virus. But you’re also able to visit a number of drive-through testing sites around the UK.

Do I have any special rights in this crisis, what does ‘key worker’ status mean for me?

Those with key worker status may have more rights should restrictions be tightened. As a professional carer, you fall into this category.

We’re sending proof to all carers currently on placement via email. We’d encourage you to print this out and show it to any relevant body. We’re able to verify its validity by phone call. If you haven’t received your proof of key worker status, please call us as soon as possible on 0333 150 2350.

How should I travel to placements?

We’d encourage you to avoid public transport where possible. If you’re able to get a taxi or drive to a placement, you’ll minimise your chances of contracting the virus.

We’ve worked with Uber and Zipcar to ensure you’re able to avoid public transport at a reasonable price.

However, for many, using public transport is impossible to avoid. If thisis the case, it’s especially important to practice good personal hygiene. That means not touching your face – mouth, eyes and nose – and regularly using an alcohol-based hand santiser.

When leaving public transport, sanitise your hands. Then wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately on entering your client’s property.

While on a placement

Can my client’s family still visit?

While it’s more important than ever to encourage communication, you should strongly discourage your client’s family from visiting, as it’s against Government instructions. The more face-to-face visits a client has, the more likely they are to be exposed to the virus. This could have severe consequences for their health.

To do this, it could be a good idea to set up a call with the primary contact and explain in detail why you’re recommending they don’t visit. When doing so, be sure to highlight the alternative ways they can stay in touch, such as video and telephone calls, social media and email.

Can I still take my client out?

Getting outside is vital for maintaining good mental health, but it’s not a good idea to take your client anywhere there might be people who could expose them to the virus. That means no trips to the shop for food or other essentials. If your client has a garden, it’s a much better idea to get some outdoors time there instead.

The Government recommends only going out for exercise, and when doing so keeping a very safe distance from others. When returning from the outdoors, it’s important to ensure you both remove outer garments and wash your hands immediately.

How can you ensure the carer after me doesn’t have COVID-19?

We’re asking carers not on placement to rigorously practice social distancing, and if possible self-isolation. However, in short, we can’t ensure they won’t have COVID-19.

That’s why we’re encouraging all carers currently on a placement to extend it until the peak of the virus has passed. This may cause personal disruption, but could save your client’s life.

My client has symptoms similar to COVID-19, should I leave the placement?

If you think your client is showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should order them a test, and get in touch with both Elder and their family.

You should also call 111. The NHS are best placed to triage and diagnose the case. You should remain on the placement until further notice. This is the safest option. By leaving it, you risk them being left alone and, if they’re infected, spreading the virus.

I have symptoms similar to COVID-19, should I leave the placement?

As with your client, you should order a test. As a key worker, you’ll be priotised. Llet us know immediately and call 111 if symptoms worsen. However, we ask you to remain on the placement unless your symptoms worsen significantly. As per the Government advice, staying where you are, with your client.

Someone in my own family has COVID-19, can I leave my placement?

In these tough times, we’re asking that you remain with your client. Although it’s always distressing to hear that a loved one becomes sick, due to the contagious nature of the virus, there’s likely very little you can do to help. Indeed, the most help you can provide in the fight against the disease is by supporting your client.

If a member of your family is in a critical condition, please call us and we’ll put special arrangements in place.

I have a break coming up, what do I do?

We’re asking all of the carers we work with in tier two and tier three areas to stay at their current placement for as long as possible. This will minimise the spread of infection and avoid the risk of a new carer bringing the virus with them. We understand this may be disruptive for you, but it could genuinely save your client’s life.

Not on a placement

Do I need to change my behaviour if I’m not on a placement?

Yes, as you’re looking after some of the most at-risk people – those over the age of 70 or with underlying health conditions – we ask you avoid all but essential social contact.

That means staying indoors and completely minimising your potential exposure – use delivery services for groceries where possible.

I’m unwell before going on a placement, what should I do?

If you’re showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should order a test. If you’re positive, you should follow the Government advice and self-isolate for 14 days. Please let us know immediately. This is a critical time for the elderly, everything needs to be done to minimise the risk of infection.

I’ve just returned from abroad, am I still able to get work with Elder?

In short, yes. Although we’re asking all those who have recently returned from abroad to wait 14 days before starting a placement. This will allow any symptoms to show. If you are showing symptoms at any point, we ask you to self-isolate for a further 14 days.

Are there still placements available?

Yes, given the scale of the pandemic that’s unfolding, we need carers looking for work to apply for placements more than ever. You can do so by logging into the Elder Hub. If you’re not currently registered with us, please visit our become a carer page on our website

Placements will remain available throughout any future “lockdown” measures – as those protecting the vulnerable have ‘key worker’ status. We’re working with all the relevant authorities to ensure we’re still able to help provide care for those in need throughout this time.

One last thing…

The work you’re doing is incredible. We’ve been blown away by your passion and dedication. It’s humbling to see.