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Guidance for people who are 'extremely vulnerable'

It is important that everyone stays at home, and for people who are extremely vulnerable or at high risk there is more guidance on how to stay safe.

What is the advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at very high risk?

The Government's guidance on social shielding has changed as of Monday 6th July 2020.

Further changes are expected to come in to place after August 1st 2020

You should have already been contacted by the NHS or the Government if you are at very high risk from coronavirus (also referred to as extremely clinically vulnerable), and you will have been advised to follow guidance on social shielding to avoid being infected with the virus.

Social shielding is for people who may be at high risk of catching the virus or becoming severely unwell if they become infected.

Social shielding is about limiting interactions with other people to reduce your risk of becoming infected.

If you normally have people come to your home to help with health or personal care, this should still continue. But if any of these people show symptoms of coronavirus, they will have been advised to stay away.


What does social shielding mean in practice?

The Government's guidance on shielding has changed as of Monday 6th July 2020, and now advises:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • You no longer need to socially distance from people you live with
  • If you want to, you can meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from other households
  • You can form a 'support bubble' with one other household, as long as one of the two households involved is a single adult household (either an adult living alone or with children under 18 only). You can spend time together with those in your support bubble, both inside and outside your homes, without needing to socially distance.

Those at very high risk have been advised to follow the current guidance for social shielding until the end of July. You will be advised by the Government or your healthcare team on whether to extend this period.

You can find more guidance for vulnerable people and where you can go to get support whilst shielding at home here.


What if you live with other people?

If you live with other people, they do not need to start social shielding, but they will need to support you during this time. They should also closely follow the advice on social distancing and reduce their contact with other people outside the home to help reduce your risk of catching the virus.


Register for support

If you live in England and have been told that you at very high risk from coronavirus, then you are able to register, up until July 17th 2020, for support. This support will continue until July 31st 2020. You can register if you:

You should have your NHS number with you when you register.

If you do not live in England but need extra support, contact your local council.


Help getting food or medicines

When you are social shielding, you should ask family or friends to help you to get food or medicines, or you could use online services. If neither of these is an option, then many areas have local community groups who are on hand to support people who are staying at home.

If you cannot get the help you need, then the government may be able to help with essential food and support. You should register for additional support, even if you do not need it right now.

If you need urgent food or care, contact your local council.

If you need to collect a prescription, someone can do this for you. Alternatively, your pharmacy may have volunteers who are able to deliver prescriptions to you.

Scope have good information on how to find support with getting food and other essentials.


What about medical appointments?

If you have been advised to stay at home then you should only be accessing medical support over the phone or internet where possible.

If you have a scheduled appointment, then contact your GP or healthcare team to discuss whether it is essential you attend in person.

Many hospitals and clinics will need to cancel or reschedule appointments during this period, so you should confirm all appointments before attending.


What to do if you develop symptoms

If you think you have developed symptoms of coronavirus such as a new, continuous cough or fever, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.

In an emergency, call 999 if you’re seriously ill.

Prepare a bag in case you need to go to hospital. This should include:

  • your emergency contact
  • a list of any medications you take (including dose and how often you take them)
  • any information on your planned care appointments
  • things you would need for an overnight stay (for example, snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush, medication)
  • your advance care plan if you have one


Last updated: 06/07/2020