800,000 people across the UK rely on home visits from carers to provide essential daily care. Many more are cared for by family members or friends, who do so unpaid.
If you’re an unpaid carer, or are working for a care agency during the COVID-19 outbreak, you might be wondering what your rights are at this time, and you’re likely concerned about how the outbreak could impact on your clients or loved ones.
We’re bringing you all the latest updates, so you can ensure you’re working in line with the law, and you’re protected, too.
Following the lockdown announced on Monday 23 March, you might be confused about if you can continue to visit the person you care for, to provide that essential care.
Whether you’re a paid or unpaid carer, you are still allowed to visit your client or loved one, as long as you’re providing them with the care they need. You won’t be penalised for providing the support they require if you’re stopped by the authorities on your way to see them.
This is a worrying time for everybody, and as well as fears for your clients, you might also be concerned about your rights if you yourself become ill.
If you begin to experience any symptoms of the Coronavirus (persistent dry cough, a high temperature, fever-like symptoms) you must immediately start self-isolating, first and foremost for your own health, but also for the health and safety of your clients.
However, the government has pledged to support workers by paying 80 per cent of salaries up to £2,500 per month. This, combined with the fact that social care is an essential sector – especially at this time – means you’re unlikely to be made redundant.
The best thing you can do for your clients, your employer and yourself is to stay at home for the duration of your symptoms, so you can feel better get back to work as soon as possible.
If you provide unpaid care to a family member or friend, there’s advice in place for you, too. If you live with a vulnerable person who has received a letter from the government, the advice is that you should try and stay away from them as much as possible, to prevent them from contracting the virus.
However, this may not be possible if you help them with daily tasks such as washing, dressing and moving.
If this is the case, you should always make sure you wash your hands for the recommended 20 seconds before coming into contact them, and anytime you enter the house after being outside. This will hopefully prevent the spread of the virus in your own home.
If you need support as an unpaid carer during this time, Carers UK is providing information and advice on their website here.