Children with health and social care needs

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Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable or with complex health needs

The UK nations have adopted their own national lockdown regulations. In each nation the advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people has been to “shield”, avoiding work, school and social situations as much as possible.

Shielding in England and Wales pauses on Wednesday 31 March 2021. In Northern Ireland, a gradual easing of guidance will begin from Monday 12 April 2021, and in Scotland shielding will pause from Monday 26 April 2021.

See the latest guidance on protection people who are clinically extremely vulnerable in:

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.

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).

Going into hospital

The NHS has guidance on hospital visits. However, we would advise you check with the hospital ahead of visiting. There may be local variations and the situation is changing.

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

Local authority duties under the Children Act 1989 to disabled children and their families 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 Coronavirus Act, brought in during the first lockdown, enabled temporary changes to the law for adult social care and young people moving to adult services. The Act temporarily 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.

However, the govenment guidance to local authorities makes it clear that they should do all they can to meet Care Act duties for as a long as possible. Local authorities should only take a decision to begin exercising the Care Act easements when the workforce is significantly depleted, or demand on social care increased, to an extent that it is no longer reasonably practicable for it to comply with its Care Act duties and to continue to try to meet all Care Act duties is likely to result in urgent or acute needs not being met, potentially risking life.

Where a local authority formally enacts the easements, they are not required 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.

The government reviewed the temporary changes at the end of September 2020, and they remain in place.

Direct payments, personal budget and personal health budgets


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.


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

Covid-19 vaccination – your questions answered

Our health lead Amanda has put together some questions and answers about the Covid-19 vaccination. We are keeping this page under review and will update it as more information becomes available.