Latest: From 1st August, in England, those who are shielding (estimated to be 2.2m people) will no longer need to do so. In the meantime, from 6th July, they can begin their transition from their self-isolation by meeting up outdoors with up to five other people and forming bubbles with other households.
With changes and clarifications from the government reaching us daily, we wanted to give you the clearest information on how older people and grandparents are affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the UK government's response to it. If you would like to talk to others who may be in a similar situation, join our online community here.
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People who live on their own may now form a 'bubble' with another household, meaning that they are allowed to stay overnight and visit them indoors.
From 6th July those who are shielding are able to meet up outdoors with up to 5 other people, as well as form support bubbles with another household. Read more about how this affects grandparents here.
This is in addition to being allowed to:
Latest: Holiday accommodation is reopening.
If you are vulnerable or shielding, the advice for those living in England has been updated.
From 6th July, shielding will be eased with people who have been self-isolating allowed to meet up outdoors in groups of up to six, as well as form support bubbles with other households. From 1st August, the UK is intending for shielding to be done away with completely.
At present, in England if you are shielding you are able to leave your home with others in your household. If you live alone, you are able to meet up with one other person outdoors as long as you keep the two metre social distancing measures laid out by the NHS. In England those affected are advised to leave their houses only once a day, while in Wales, outdoors exercise is unlimited. For those who are struggling with loneliness and isolation this is a small step towards getting them some much-needed contact with the outside world.
However, reactions to the announceent is mixed on the Gransnet forums. "We self isolated at the beginning of March due to my husband's health issues. Our focus has been on keeping him safe and well so I'll take 'shielded to be allowed out' with a pinch of salt. Might be better decide for ourselves when it's safe to start meeting up with somebody from another household." merlotgran
Complications and deaths are more common in the elderly, even those without pre-existing conditions.' So for now some people over 70 are still choosing to exercise at home and have their shopping delivered to them. If you're struggling to do this, do read our advice on how to register as a vulnerable shopper and how to get those coveted delivery slots.
The government advice is that - in England - up to six people are able to visit in a public or private outdoor space (like a garden). We are still required to maintain social distancing during these visits, so for now, cuddles with the grandchildren at these meet-ups is still off limits. However, single person households are now allowed to form 'support bubbles' with another household and stay overnight during which social distancing need not apply. For many families this means that grandparents who live on their own can now be reunited with their families and have the hugs they have been missing so much.
"Now we are allowed to meet up with one other person my friend and I have arranged to meet on Friday. We will both drive to a secluded car park, stay in our cars, open our windows, drink tea and chat. We haven’t seen each other since February and usually see each other 3/4 times a week. There will be tears and laughter and lots of gossip." Sunlover
"We are both in our early 60s fit and with no underlying health issues. Are we allowed to look after my grandson due to the present restrictions. If not how does my daughter return to work as her boyfriend also works." dannio
We know from our research that over half of Gransnet users regularly look after their grandchildren, but in these difficult circumstances, grandparents are (not yet) allowed to provide childcare. Do check out our page for more details on grandparents and childcare during coronavirus.
This doesn't mean you can't have quality time with your grandkids though - there are plenty of ideas on the page for fun ways to keep in touch from a distance.
The most important symptoms to watch out for are:
If you have cold or flu symptoms that appear to be getting worse rather than better over time, this could be another sign of the virus. Fatigue and body-aches can also be symptoms of normal seasonal flu as well as coronavirus. If you’re experiencing itchy eyes, a stuffy nose and sneezing, don’t worry - these are generally symptoms of normal allergies.
If you suspect you have coronavirus, use the online NHS 111 service.
If you experience any of these severe symptoms of coronavirus, contact emergency services immediately:
Bearing the most common symptoms in mind, it’s helpful to think calmly about what you would want around the house if you had a cold - lots of tissues, chicken soup, hydrating drinks.
If you need daily medication, contact your pharmacy by phone and explain your situation - many of them are offering delivery service at the moment.
It could be helpful to make a list of all of the aid organisations in your community that you could contact if you need to access information, health care services, support, and resources.
Most of all, look after yourself. Advice on the forums is:
“Plenty of phone calls, Skype, Gransnet, uplifting radio music rather than the news, ordering in favourite foods and treats, reading good books, afternoon naps etc.”
NHS UK’s advice is to:
Whilst it's important to stay vigilant, if your worry is becoming unbearable, it might be a good idea to seek help. We have a list of useful resources if you feel your mental health is suffering as a result of the pandemic.
If you live alone, it is essential to keep in touch with the outside world as much as you can at the moment. The phone is the easiest way to keep connected for many people, and making sure you have a list of phone numbers easily accessible is a good idea. Creating Whatsapp groups with neighbours or local friends can be useful if you need help getting supplies. Mutual aid groups are springing up around the UK, where ordinary people are getting together to help people with food shopping, picking-up perscriptions or dog walking. If you're worried about living alone, we've got some suggestions for how to avoid loneliness during lockdown.
All family visits to care homes are not allowed at the moment as it's classed a 'non-essential' visit. Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for health has said that they will allow people to visit dying family. However, this doesn't mean visits are guaranteed, as individual care homes may not have enough access to PPE to feel this is safe.
Following controversy about whether the government is doing enough to protect people living in care homes, new rules have been introduced. From now on, any care home resident discharged from hospital will be tested for coronavirus before they are allowed back into their home. Residents who are showing symptoms will now also be tested. Testing will now be extended to all social care staff and members of their households.
The goverment has recently released news that a new 100% accurate COVID-19 antibody test has been approved for use in UK by Public Health England. More details as to when this will be released to the wider public will be announced in time.
If you want to provide some comfort to people who are still self-isolating, gransnetters have lots of advice.
It's a difficult time for everyone, and a gift in the post could be a massive source of comfort for someone who's feeling lonely during the epidemic. Here are some of our favourite suggestions.
"My FaceTime address. I know from experience that loneliness is the worse thing!"
"Some seeds or voucher for seed catalogue."
"Jigsaw puzzles, flowers, books, and a daily phone call (at least)."
"A good supply of gin and tonic."
Disclaimer: The information on our health pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult the NHS coronavirus website if you are concerned you or someone you know has the disease.