For a long time now heroes all over our support networks have received PPE, from frontline NHS staff to police and fire, utilities and other key workers.
Unpaid carers however – have had to find and organise their own. For some carers this is not so bad, one household, limited personal care but for others travelling to help friends and relatives or wanting to be extra cautious around a shielding resident, it has been much tougher. For some who carry out intensive work like helping with catheters, feeding tubes and injecting, it has been difficult to obtain, masks, gloves and other PPE because demand has been so high.
Following a successful pilot scheme to establish the distribution method and logistics, free PPE is now being made available to ‘extra-resident’ unpaid carers who need it, so they can continue to keep themselves and those they care for safe from COVID-19 if they have to move between households.
This PPE will be delivered through the local resilience forums and local authorities. This should help even more stay safe and stop the spread of Covid19 whilst also reminding unpaid carers of what help and support is there for them.
Throughout the pandemic action has been taken to support unpaid carers during this challenging year, including through tailored guidance, supported access to respite as well as £500,000 to Carers Trust to help combat loneliness.
As key workers, unpaid carers are also able to access priority testing when they have symptoms through the government’s testing portal.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said:
Unpaid carers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. All too often their kindness and devotion go unseen and unacknowledged by society.
I know the enormous strain this pandemic has placed on those caring for family and those they love. I’m determined to do everything possible to support them.
Working with local authorities and voluntary organisations, we have already improved access for carers to testing and supported day services to stay open safely during this second wave. I’m pleased we can now roll out free PPE for those unpaid carers who are advised to use it.
This has long been a call from the public, so it is great to know the pilot scheme worked well and PPE can now be distributed more widely. A number of unpaid carers also have been prioritised for the vaccine as part of cohort 6, in line with the independent advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
These include those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. While we are still in the early cohorts, if you are an unpaid carer, keep an ear to the ground for your invite to vaccination soon.
We can all do our bit to stay safe and well and if you are un unpaid carer who has not considered what help and support may be out there from finances to respite and discounts visit www.carersuk.org