Coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently-asked questions by clients (updated 6 July)

Published: Friday 27th March 2020

Answers to frequently asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and care provision by our clients and their families (updated 30 March 2020).

I am reliant on my Agincare care workers, what will happen if the virus spreads and they are no longer able to come?

Agincare have Business Continuity Plans in place to cover emergencies such as a viral outbreak or pandemic. All Agincare care and support staff follow strict infection, prevention and control guidelines. Inter-office/care home support networks give flexibility in terms of severe lack of staff in any one service; bank staff and, if necessary, agency workers and appropriate volunteers will be utilised. Off-duty staff may be asked to provide cover at short notice if they are available.

All relevant employment protection regulations which may alter at short notice subject to government advise considering the current Covid-19 outbreak would be complied with, relating to the number of hours worked within a specified period and breaks between periods of working. People who are reliant on the service are prioritised for home visits, where others have family who can support them in the interim or non-essential visits are made such as a weekly shopping call for instance.

Am I able to visit a loved one with COVID-19?

We’re now able to welcome visitors back to our care homes – albeit at a safe distance of at least two metres and with a few stipulations to minimise the risk.

I am a carer for someone I don’t live with – what can I do to support them?

You are now able to meet people from outside your household.

How is the virus spread?

The coronaviruses are spread from someone infected to other close contacts through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. The time between being exposed to the virus and when symptoms first appear is typically 5 to 6 days although can be from 2 to 14 days. This is why people who might have been in contact with a confirmed case are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

How can I protect myself / my family?

The best way to protect yourself is to follow government advice and stay at home if possible and if in one of the categories of vulnerable people, shield yourself from others by self isolating. The same as you would against any respiratory infection, continue to observe good hygiene by:

  • making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • make sure you stay home if you are sick

Do face masks and other protective equipment/wear protect against COVID-19?

Face masks are not recommended for the general population. People who have symptoms and might be infected with COVID-19 are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to anyone else.

Wearing gloves and aprons at home are not required, unless you are supporting someone who has symptoms. Personal Protective equipment (PPE) can be bought in most pharmacies.

The Department of Health and Social Care is distributing supplies of face masks and other essential protective equipment to all care providers. Agincare is now equipped to continue to care for those who have, or are suspected of having coronavirus-type symptoms and care and support staff will ensure all PPE is worn and disposed of in line with current guidance.

How will I know if my neighbourhood is affected?

Maintain checks on your local authority/council website pages for updates on their contingencies and activities in relation to the virus in your area. You can find your local council by entering your postcode here if you’re not sure.

On the evening of 23 March the Prime Minister announced measures to protect communities:

  • Your area, like everyone else’s, will be in lockdown for at least three weeks
  • This includes shop closures, except those providing essential services such as food and medicines
  • People are advised to stay in doors unless their work is essential
  • You will be able to go into your garden and are permitted out to buy essential provisions and for exercise but must maintain a distance of 2 metres from other people
  • We will all notice the effects of Corona-virus on our communities

I don’t know how I’ll manage being isolated for 14 days

Being isolated can be difficult, but there are ways to maintain your mental and physical health during these times:

  • If you have symptoms of the Coronavirus, try to keep at least 2 metres (3 steps) from other people in your home, particularly older people or those with long-term health conditions
  • Ask friends and family and delivery services to deliver things like food shopping and medicines – but avoid contact with them
  • Sleep alone if possible
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Drink plenty of water and take paracetamol to help with your symptoms
  • You can use your garden and you can currently go out for one form of exercise daily and can go to the shops for essential items such as food and medicine

There are on-line resources available for dealing with coronavirus anxiety, as well as many local coronavirus support groups and forums. Always check you are using a reputable forum/support group as there have been several reports of scammers targeting people with bogus offers of help.

Do I need a medical certificate if I am self-isolating?

If you do not have any symptoms there is no testing that can be done to predict whether or not you will become unwell. Medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness (according to the law), ie employees can currently self-certify those the first 7 days.

People who are required to self-isolate will be paid SSP if they qualify, they do not need to attend a GP and they no longer have to delay for the usual three waiting days before claiming. There’s an online certificate which you can complete and send to your employer.

What if someone becomes unwell while they are at work?

If someone becomes unwell while at work they should be removed to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people and, if possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door. If possible, open a window for ventilation.

The person who is unwell should call NHS 111 from their mobile (or 999 if it’s an emergency) for advice. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. They should cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow. If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.

When the unwell person leaves the workplace, colleagues must clean any surfaces including handrails, telephones, keyboards, tables/surfaces, toilet areas etc with ant-bacterial cleaning agents.

Do I need to be separate from other people in my home if I am isolating?

Yes. If you are sharing your home with others, you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible. Use a separate bathroom, if available. Make sure that you do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.

What about groceries, medicines and essentials if I can’t go out?

If you need essential supplies ask a family member or friend (who is not in isolation) to deliver them to your home or shop for groceries online. Have deliveries left at your door.

Supermarkets have introduced special shopping hours for vulnerable people and for their carers, care workers and NHS staff.

There is no need to bulk-buy products at supermarkets, including toilet paper, paracetamol and canned food. It’s important to note the role of family and friends in supporting those in isolation and also to note that online grocery delivery services are now available.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is required for everyone when they come into contact with others at work and in shops (essential workers/essential shops). In other places/for everyone it has been restricted by the Prime Minister’s directive for all groups and gatherings to be cancelled and disallowed.

When going out for essential shopping and/or medicines you will notice that most supermarkets and chemists have introduced systems to ensure limited numbers of customers and markers to ensure those queuing are reminded of the 2 metre distancing guidelines

I am self-isolating. Can my pet stay with me? How do I look after my pet during this time?

A. There is currently no evidence that pets can become sick from Covid-19. It is possible the virus could survive for short periods on a pet (e.g on their fur) but there is no evidence that pets can spread Covid-19 to people. If you have to self-isolate:

  • Ideally have another person in your household take on the day-to-day care of your pet, to minimise close contact. If you live alone, then consider asking a friend or family member to look after your pet during this time. If neither of the above options are possible, make sure you follow good hygiene procedures. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your pet, their food or disposing of their waste. Avoid letting your pet lick you, especially your face, and don’t share food with them
  • Exercise – ensuring your pet continues to get daily activity is important for both their physical and mental health. If your cats are used to going outdoors, then as long as you are washing your hands before and after handling them, there is no reason to stop them doing this. For dogs, a friend or professional dog walker can take your dog out for you
  • Food – buying food and other items online for delivery can help ensure you don’t run out of pet supplies

How can I help if I know my neighbours/friends/community is affected?

Stay safe by ensuring everyday preventive actions including regular hand washing and there are many ways you can help those affected:

  • Create a list of local organisations in the event that one of you need access to information, healthcare services, support, or resources. Consider including organisations that provide mental health or counselling services, food, and other supplies
  • Create emergency contact lists of family, friends, neighbours, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources
  • Learn about the emergency operations plan at local schools or nursery
  • Stay up-to-date using trusted sources of information. The UK Government and the NHS will keep people informed of new advice and developments. Please check the following sources of advice frequently:

View all our latest news, guidance and FAQs on coronavirus.