Cannock Chase Council is calling on friends and relatives of those shielding across the District to be aware of the upcoming changes to the national shielding service.
The UK Government has set out a roadmap for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the future of the shielding programme. Recently, government has advised that those shielding can spend time outdoors, if they wish, with their own household, or if they live alone with another household. Following this, and alongside current scientific and medical advice the UK Government is planning to relax shielding guidance in stages.
From 6 July, the guidance changed so people shielding can now meet in groups of up to six people from outside their household – outdoors with social distancing. If a person lives alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), they will now be able to form a support bubble with another household.
As part of this, the government has confirmed the shielding support package will remain in place until the end of July. After this, weekly food parcel deliveries will stop.
The government is sharing details with supermarkets of people who are in the Shielding and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) group and have registered for support getting food.
To be included on the database that is shared with supermarkets in England, people must be in the CEV group and register a need for support by 17 July. If people want an online delivery slot, they must answer ‘no’ to the question asking if they have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment. All questions on the form need to be completed in order for individuals details to be shared with supermarkets. The form is available by visiting www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
From 1 August shielding will pause. While people will no longer need to shield, and are advised that they will be able to visit shops and places of worship, they should continue maintaining rigorous social distancing.
Ongoing support is still available from the following local community voluntary organisations; Cannock Foodbank, Rugeley Foodbank, Chase Coronavirus Support Network, Heath Hayes and Wimblebury Support Group and the Salvation Army. Support includes help with food shopping, collecting prescriptions and befriending services. Information about other organisations providing support is available from Support Staffordshire.
The NHS will maintain the Shielded Patient List to ensure that they continue to provide the best advice to those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. Should the level of the disease in the community rise in the future, it may be necessary to advise that more restrictive measures should be taken in order for those at highest risk to keep themselves safe.
NHS Volunteer Responders will also continue to offer support to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines.
The NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme has been expanded to offer a new Check in and Chat Plus role. This new role has been designed to provide peer support and companionship to people who are shielding as they adapt to a more normal way of life.
If you are or know someone who is vulnerable or at risk and needs help with shopping, medication or other essential supplies, please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support people were receiving prior to the start of shielding.
Councillor George Adamson, Leader of Cannock Chase Council, said: “Cannock Chase Council is committed to supporting local people, community groups and voluntary sector organisations to respond to those who have specific support needs and requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Shielding was introduced to safeguard those who, at the start of the epidemic, were thought to be most clinically vulnerable in our communities. We know how difficult this period has been and the impact shielding has had on many people’s mental health.
“The prevalence of the virus in the community is now lower and chances of getting infected are reduced, which is why the government believes it is the right time to relax some of the advice so people can start to regain a degree of normality once more in their daily lives”.
To find out more about the changes to the shielding programme visit www.cannockchasedc.gov.uk/coronavirus