HWW COVID 19 information and advice update
Dear Healthwatch Walsall Follower
We want to update you about Healthwatch Walsall operational delivery in light of covid-19 and the growing spread of confirmed cases probably from community transmission and sadly many people dying before their time.
We carefully assessed the situation a week ago and applied the following changes in our delivery, which are being reviewed regularly:
- All Enter and View activity suspended. A lot of our stalwart volunteers who support us in this important role are often within the age range where contracting covid-19 has worse impacts/outcomes than other age ranges.
- All volunteer led activities to be postponed and rearranged.
- All community engagement events to be postponed/rearranged to dates in the future once the outbreak settles down.
- All strategic meetings are still being attended by staff as this may be where local actions by Public Health, local NHS services and Local Authority, and possibly Police involvement regarding subsequent provision of services will be agreed so Healthwatch would need to know what they are so we can fulfil our role of providing information to the public and signposting them to services and about important Public Health messages.
In the interim we have asked managers and their teams to:
- Make sure our websites are up to date and contain the latest advice about covid-19
- That they are keeping contact with all the groups that make up our local networks to collect intelligence
- To use social media to raise our presence, both circulating Public Health advice and prompting people to share their stories with us
- To collate peoples concerns so that we can share them with issues people are facing in these unchartered times.
So please keep in touch with us and share your stories of health and social care, you can either phone us: 0800 470 1660, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or use our Feedback Centre on the Healthwatch Walsall website link: https://healthwatchwalsall.co.uk/services/
We realise this is a very different way of working but we need to pragmatic, act responsibly and avoid any community transmission being caused by our activities as well as safeguarding our volunteers and staff from the same.
We will be sending out further updates as the situation develops.
Below is the latest information and advice from the Government (We’ve included the full website contents here in case you have difficulties in accessing it. The information does change very frequently, this was accurate as of 9.30pm on 16th March, our websites will always have links to the latest information)
Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults
Published 16 March 2020
Background and Scope of Guidance
This guidance is for everyone. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers. If you live in a residential care setting – guidance is available at residential care setting
We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant.
Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.
People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:
- People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
- People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis).
What is social distancing?
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; 3.Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information;
- Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.
For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.
Handwashing and Respiratory Hygiene
There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- washing your hands more often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
- cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.
What should you do if you develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
The same guidance applies to the general population and those at increased risk of severe illness form coronavirus (COVID-19). If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature and/or new and continuous cough), self-isolate at home for 7 days. You can find the full guidance at stay at home
How can I get assistance with foods and medicines if I am reducing my social contacts?
Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. If this is not possible, then the public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home. It is important to speak to others and ask them to help you to make arrangements for the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies, and look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
If you receive support from health and social care organisations, for example if you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal. Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected. The advice for formal carers is included in the Home care provision.
What should you do if you have hospital and GP appointments during this period?
We advise everyone to access medical assistance remotely, wherever possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and consider whether appointments can be postponed.
What is the advice for visitors including those who are providing care for you?
You should contact your regular social visitors such as friends and family to let them know that you are reducing social contacts and that they should not visit you during this time, unless they are providing essential care for you. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals.
If you receive regular health or social care from an organisation, either through your local authority or paid for by yourself, inform your care providers that you are reducing social contacts and agree a plan for continuing your care.
If you receive essential care from friends or family members, speak to your carers about extra precautions they can take to keep you safe. You may find this guidance on Home care provision useful.
It is also a good idea to speak to your carers about what happens if one of them becomes unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you do not have family or friends who can help you, you can contact your local council who should be able to help you.
What is the advice if I live with a vulnerable person?
If you live in a house with a vulnerable person refer to our household guidance
How do you look after your mental wellbeing?
Understandably, you may find that social distancing can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being outside with other people.
At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:
- Look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website
- Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to/watching favourite radio or TV programmes
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
- Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden. You can also go for a walk outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others
Further information on looking after your mental health during this time is available.
What steps can you take to stay connected with family and friends during this time?
Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.
Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you can use a NHS recommended helpline.
What is the advice for informal carers?
If you are caring for someone who is vulnerable, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk at the current time. Ensure you follow advice on good hygiene such as:
- Wash your hands on arrival and often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
- Do not visit if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care.
- Provide information on who they should call if they feel unwell, how to use NHS111 online coronavirus service and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed.
- Find out about different sources of support that could be used and access further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Carers UK
- Look after your own well-being and physical health during this time. Further information on this is available here
Summary of advice
* if one member of your family or household has a new continuous cough or high temperature
** if you live alone and you have a new continuous cough or high temperature
*** if you live alone and you have a new continuous cough or high temperature
**** for example via telephone or internet
1 ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms
Stay at home if you have either:
- A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- A new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
- You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
- Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.
How long to stay at home
- if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
- if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
Read our advice about staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus (social distancing)
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.
It is particularly important for people who:
- are 70 or over
- have a long-term condition
- are pregnant
- have a weakened immune system
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
- only travel on public transport if you need to
- work from home, if you can
- avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
- avoid events with large groups of people
- use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family
The NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. You’ll be given specific advice about what to do.
Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted.
How coronavirus is spread
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.
Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.
If you’re planning to travel abroad and are concerned about coronavirus, see advice for travellers on GOV.UK.
Treatment for coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.
- GOV.UK: coronavirus action plan
- GOV.UK: information on coronavirus and the situation in the UK
- NHS England: coronavirus for health professionals
- RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians): coronavirus advice for pregnant women
You may have already heard of the new ‘Stay at Home’ guidance announced by Prime Minister on Thursday 12 March 2020, updated on 16th March. This includes:
This guidance is intended for:
- people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
- those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus
The main messages are:
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 daysfrom when your symptoms started. (See ending isolation section for more information)
- if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
- it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period. (See ending isolation section for more information
- if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
- if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
- if you have coronavirus symptoms:
- do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
- testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
- ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
- wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
- if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
Please do follow these new guidelines here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Do keep looking at the current NHS advice here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Please also follow the updated travel guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus.
We have also added links on our own website to helpful sites including any relevant local information and more will be added as they become available, you can find the main page here: https://healthwatchwalsall.co.uk/
Symptoms of coronavirus
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
- new continuous cough, and/or high temperature
- high temperature
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection. If you develop the above-mentioned symptoms, however mildly it is important to follow the Government’s stay at home guidance.
PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CAN STILL CONTACT US BY PHONE: 0800 470 1660 OR BY EMAIL: INFO@HEALTHWATCHWALSALL.CO.UK OR VISIT OUR FEEDBACK CENTRE ON OUR WEBSITE TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES OF WALSALL SERVICES. CLICK HERE
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