Unpaid carers across the country, who do not live with the people they care for, can now benefit from free PPE through a new national scheme the government has confirmed.
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 continue to keep themselves and those they care for safe from COVID-19 if they have to move between households.
The provision of free PPE to unpaid carers builds on the government’s commitment to provide free PPE until at the least the end of June 2021 to the adult social care sector.
“Unpaid carers are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. All too often their kindness and devotion go unseen and unacknowledged by society,” emphasises Minister for Care, Helen Whately.
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.
“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.”
Over 7.6 billion items of PPE have been distributed to protect our health and social care staff.
“It is important everything is done to protect those who are vulnerable and the people who care for them,” adds Professor Deborah Sturdy OBE, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care.
“Unpaid carers provide a fundamental pillar supporting our social care system and have the gratitude of a nation for their work before, during and after this pandemic.
“The scientific advice is to wear PPE while caring and we are ensuring extra-resident unpaid carers can now access this for free.”
As key workers, unpaid carers are also able to access priority testing when they have symptoms through the Government’s testing portal – with plans to make vaccinations more widely available to unpaid carers.
A number of unpaid carers 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, should also be offered vaccination alongside these groups.