Support for extremely vulnerable people

Updated 17:15, 26 March 2020

Information about coronavirus is available in different languages and formats:

Support for extremely vulnerable people

The government is now advising that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be ‘shielded’ from coronavirus (COVID-19) for at least 12 weeks.

This means that adults and children deemed to be at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of underlying health conditions should minimise interaction by staying at home at all times and avoiding any face-to-face contact to prevent being exposed to the virus.

Those needing to ‘shield’ will shortly receive a letter and be contacted to find out if they need any additional support.

What is shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people from coronavirus (COVID-19) by minimising their interaction with others. This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.

We are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow these shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.

The BBC has a good article with advice and information – Coronavirus: What is shielding.

Summary of advice

  • If you have been identified as being at high risk then you will receive a letter from the NHS within next few days telling you what you (or your carer or family) should do and how you can register for support
  • The letter will say that from Tuesday 24 March you will be able to register for additional support for getting food, basic needs and prescriptions delivered
  • If you have been identified as being at high risk, or you think you have a medical condition that places you at high risk, you can register on the government website
  • Don’t worry. Arrangements are being put in place to help you to get what you need in a safe way either through the Government, your local council or pharmacy
  • You may be contacted in the next few days to check if you have specific requirements that can be supported locally

Refer to the latest advice from the government: Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

You can register directly with the government via this page: Get coronavirus support as an extremely vulnerable person.

Who is extremely vulnerable?

The Government has published guidance about the medical conditions that they consider make people extremely vulnerable, which has been published on its website, and the NHS is contacting those identified to provide further advice.

People can also register themselves on the Government website if they think that they have a medical condition that makes them extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, or register on someone’s behalf.

If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway.

If you think you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.

Shielding hubs in Devon

A network of ‘shielding hubs’ coordinated by local authorities is rapidly being set up across Devon to immediately help those most at risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) with urgent food, medicine and care supplies.

The ‘shielding hubs’ will help ensure those who do not have a support network they can rely on are able to receive essential food and medicine deliveries and additional care if they live alone and don’t have family, friends or social care services to help them.

The hubs are virtual, describing the close working arrangements between the organisers. They’re not physical buildings in specific locations.

The NHS is working to identify and contact adults and children who are extremely vulnerable with instructions on how they can best protect themselves and find out what support they need.

It will take a little while before the Government’s scheme is fully operational in Devon, so the County Council, District and City Councils are currently working together as quickly as possible to establish arrangements in each district area to coordinate immediate help to those most vulnerable people who urgently need it.

Details of the hubs and the process for receiving support over the coming weeks are still being agreed, but it is likely that following the initial contact from the NHS, the individual will be contacted quickly by the County Council to find out what their needs are and how best to support them, with the District and City council’s working to locally to manage the delivery of support within their communities.

Beware of fraudsters

Fraudsters are increasingly targeting individuals and organisations with emails, text, phone calls and WhatsApp messages offering advice, treatment, products and services for coronavirus or asking for donations, so measures are also being put in place to ensure those making contact with vulnerable people about receiving support from the ‘shielding hub’ are reliably identifiable, and residents are aware that they will never be asked for bank details or request money.