Children with health and social care needs

Latest guidance on shielding

England

National shielding was paused from Saturday 1 August.

The government has updated its guidance on shielding for extremely vulnerable people after the introduction of the regional alert level system on Monday 14 October.

 

The guidance provides advice on protecting the clinically extremely vulnerable based on the local Covid-19 alert level in your area - medium, high or very high.

 

It also provides shielding advice that is more targeted and will only apply in some of the worst affected areas and only for a limited period of time. In these cases, the government will write to you separately to inform you if you are advised to shield, and further support will be made available from your local authority and community pharmacies.

 

You can check the COVID alert level of your local area.

 

Northern Ireland

Shielding was paused in Northern Ireland from Friday 31 July.

If you are concerned about support after 31 July, you can contact the Covid-19 Community Helpline:

See full shielding guidance at NIDirect.

Scotland

Shielding was paused from Saturday 1 August.

This means that people shielding can follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland. To stay safe, people coming out of shielding should strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.

From 1 August, the government expects that it ise safe enough for:

  • Children to return to school.
  • Adults to return to work.
  • Students to return to university or college as part of the phased return to campus.
  • Anyone to go inside pubs and restaurants.
  • Anyone to attend places of worship for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation.

There is particular guidance for children and young people who have been shielding.

See full shielding guidance in Scotland.

Wales

In Wales, those most at risk from coronavirus can stop shielding from Sunday 16 August.

Measures will be kept under review in case of a rise in transmission levels, as some form of shielding might become necessary again if the virus increases.

From 16 August, some of the support for people shielding will end, such as the weekly box scheme. But supermarkets will still offer priority slots to people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

A prescription delivery service will remain in place until 30 September.

The chief medical officer will be writing to everyone in the shielding group about this update.

Full guidance is at gov.wales.

Social distancing badge

Health boards in Wales have received new social distancing badges to help identify and protect vulnerable people who have been shielding for months from coronavirus.

The pin badge is intended as a "polite prompt" to others to maintain a respectful distance, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Other latest updates

4 June: Restoration of community health services for children and young people

NHS England has confirmed that as part of phase two of the Covid-19 response,  community health services for children and young people are being restored.

Find out more at NHS England.

General health tips

It's important to keep following general advice around handwashing and cleaning. This is vital in stopping the spread of infection.

Remember to wash anything you touch regularly, such as phones and glasses. Decontaminate after returning from any trip outside the home by washing and changing clothing.

If your child is unwell

We've heard reports of families not accessing support because of instructions to stay at home.

You know your child best. While it is important to follow government advice on social isolation, remember that NHS services are still open if your child needs care for non-coronavirus illnesses. 

Wellchild has advice on what to do if your child is unwell, but not with Covid-19.

See also advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

The RCPCH has also updated ethical guidelines around acute paediatric care in case of extremely high demand and limited capacity. However, it's important to note that at the time of writing (14 April) there is no shortage of critical paediatric care capacity in the UK.

Children with complex health needs and Covid-19

If you're concerned about a child with a specific condition, you may find it useful to get in contact with the relevant support group or umbrella organisation. Although they can't provide individual medical advice, they can provide general guidance about particular conditions.

If your child is vulnerable and needs to isolate for a period of time, plan and prepare as best you can. Make sure you can access medicine supplies and get hold of people to help in an emergency.

Wellchild has advice on caring for a child with complex needs.

Together for Short Lives has advice on what to do when you need to let a carer into the home.

Although you may be self-isolating, or feeling isolated as you care for your child, you are not alone. Most charities and organisations are widening access to social media to ensure that families can share information, support and advice remotely. Many health services are using remote access to provide support and advice.

We've also written some advice about coping at home.

Wellchild Covid-19 Direct Response Service

WellChild have launched their Corona Virus Direct Response Scheme, offering vulnerable children and their families support for the following:

  • Access to food delivery service.
  • Prescription collection.
  • Delivery of Personal Protective Equipment for your care team (including handwash, alcohol gel, gloves, aprons, surgical masks and eye protection).
  • Scrub style uniforms for care staff.

WellChild COVID-19 Response Team will aim to reply to you as soon as possible during the working week of Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.

Going into hospital

The NHS has now standardised its guidance on hospital visits.

If your child has to go into hospital during this time, you should still check with the hospital before visiting.

See our advice on hospital admission, including making use of a hospital passport.

Wales has issued this guidance for hospital visits.

Social care support from your local authority

The Coronavirus Act brought in some changes to the law, however l ocal authorities' duties under the Children's Act 1989 remain in place. 

These include the duties to assess and arrange provision to support disabled children's needs while they are under 18, and the needs of their carers

The majority of the law on SEND remains untouched too - including the duties to assess education, health and care needs and, where necessary, to make EHC plans.

But the government has eased the obligations under the Care Act 2014, Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and 1989 Children Act around young people's transition to adult services.

What this means for families is that the local authority does not have to carry out a detailed assessment of what a young person's and their carer's care and support needs might be when they turn 18.

According to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), no council had used the easements (information last updated 3 July). If you want to know if your local authority is using easements, you will need to get in touch with them directly.

The government will have an opportunity to review the temporary provisions in the Act every six months. The first review is due in September 2020.

Direct payments, personal budget and personal health budgets

England

The government has published updated guidance for people who receive support via direct payments, through personal budgets, and personal health budgets during the coronavirus pandemic, including parents on behalf of their children.

Wales

More flexible use of direct payments during the coronavirus pandemic has also been announced in Wales.