In the UK, the coronavirus pandemic has been a cause of stress and disruption for everyone, with various lockdowns being implemented and many people having to shield in their homes.
For older people and others who have existing health conditions, the coronavirus pandemic has seen them having to shield for months on end. Those with mobility problems that need aids such as stair lifts or mobility scooters and people that fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category have had to rely on friends and family to help them through the pandemic.
This guide looks at some of the best ways families can look after and help relatives and friends who are shielding during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before discussing the best ways to help people shielding, you need to know what shielding is.
Shielding is a protective measure that has been put in place for people that are at a high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. It aims to minimise face-to-face interactions between those who are extremely vulnerable and others in a bid to stop the spread of infection.
The Gov.uk website says: “This guidance is for everyone in England who has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past.
“This shielding guidance applies to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals only. Others living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable are not advised to follow this guidance. They should instead follow the general advice and regulations set out in the national lockdown guidance that came into effect on 5 January 2021.”
•Keep in contact with people shielding
•Pick-up medication and help with doctor appointments
•Go food shopping or drop off home-cooked meals
•Send treats to someone shielding
•Set-up video calls
•Buy puzzles and crosswords to keep them entertained
People who are shielding can feel lonely and isolated at times such as this and it is therefore important that family and friends keep in contact with people who are having to shield during the coronavirus pandemic.
Disability and lifestyle blogger Kerry Thompson talks about why it is important to keep in contact with someone who is shielding.
“It’s hugely important to stay in touch more than ever right now, making a regular call to a family member or friend with a disability/impairment, even sending random gifts like a card or flowers the list is endless when it comes to this - just making sure that they have everything they need is showing your family member or friend with a disability/impairment that you care. Stay safe and we can all get through this.”
Glen Turner, the writer behind the Well Eye Never blog, agrees that communication is vital during a time like this.
He said: “Never underestimate the power of simple communication. Staying in touch with family and friends regularly is crucial so they don't feel forgotten. A lack of contact can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and negativity, which can grow and take root over time, increasingly affecting their mental health. People often don't want to seem burdensome by asking for a bit of communication either, or they may not even realise they need it if they've become used to being alone with their own thoughts.
“It can be anything from a lengthy conversation to sharing a picture or video you think they'll like, to a little surprise gift, or just a quick message, phone call or knock on the door to ask if they're ok and need anything. The smallest gesture to show you're thinking about them can make a big difference.”
People who are vulnerable to coronavirus may need to take regular medication or have to attend regular medical appointments. If, for example, an older person suffers from severe arthritis or another condition that means they need painkillers or other medication from the pharmacy or doctor, then this is something family and friends can pick up for them.
They might have straight stairlifts and other mobility aids meaning they can get around their home without any issues, but if they are shielding during the pandemic then they may need some help to pick-up medications they have been prescribed.
There are ways in which you can arrange to collect a bulk order of medication on behalf of an elderly friend, neighbour or loved one to ensure they have enough to last them for this period of social distancing.
“Text or call and ask if you can help them with groceries, picking up medication, or exercising their dog. Especially for older relatives, offer to help set up online appointments with their doctor(s). Many people haven't seen their medical team in person for over a year and may need changes to medication or other care.”
Food is one of the most important things that you can offer to help pick-up for an older relative or friend as those who are shielding are being advised not to go out.
People can look to buy long-life food for the person who is shielding and this could include frozen ready meals, tinned vegetables, dry pasta, lentils, pulses, and frozen fish. These are nutritious foods that will not only fill them up but will boost their immune systems.
Christel Oerum, who has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1997, said: “You can drop off a home-cooked meal or treats. Just remember to check for any food restrictions or preferences.
“Beating the coronavirus has shown to be a global task, and now more than ever, we must come together as a community. Those shielding at home can easily become very lonely, and even something as small as an occasional note or home-cooked meal can make the world of difference.”
Something that is worth considering is buying your friend or relative who is shielding a treat to show that you are still thinking of them as it can be very lonely for them if they are stuck at home. The treat could be anything from a small gift to delivering a particular food or sweet treat that they like.
Gemma, who is the writer of the Wheelescapades Blog, spoke about how she has found the pandemic and how people have surprised her with treats.
“I feel one of the main things people need to remember is that many of us have been shielding for almost a year now. It’s not lockdown 3.0 for some, we are in one continuous lockdown. Partly by choice, yes, however, because we’ve been told by health professionals that Covid-19 is of high risk to our life, it’s not really a choice.
“I’ve had a few lovely surprises through the post, chocolates and treats. This can be really uplifting and a reminder that people are out there. We are all thinking of each other even though we can’t be there in person.
“Isolation can become monotonous. Not going out for lunch, shopping trips or catching a film at the local cinema. But a surprise cookie delivery is a change from routine, and watching the same film or TV show with a friend while chatting via text is welcome company.”
Whilst phoning or texting a friend or relative who is shielding is a great way to stay in touch, sometimes people want to see you.
Although you can’t see them in person, a way around this is to video call them or to organise a zoom meeting with them. It is something you can organise on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and is a great way to check-in with them to see how they are coping.
Something that has increased in popularity is to have tea or coffee virtually with someone who is shielding. This is something that Christel Oerum recommends trying.
“Set up regular video calls so people who isolate can see a friendly face. You can even have dinner or a drink ‘together’ over a video call.”
It is something that Gemma from the Wheelescapades Blog has done throughout the past year. She said: “Technology has helped a great deal. To be able to video chat with family and friends over virtual coffee means a lot.”
For many people who have been shielding since last year, it has been a lonely period of time and they may have found it hard finding different things to do during the day.
Something that is worth considering is to buy them puzzles, crosswords and other games they can try at home. This will help pass the time during the lockdown and will help them feeling isolated, especially older adults that may not have access to technology.
Puzzle books and crosswords are a great addition to a care package that you deliver to them as they can help them with their mental health during times of worry and trepidation.
These are just some of the things that you can do to help someone who is shielding during the current coronavirus pandemic. If you want to read more article likes this, then take a look at our news section here.
This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.