Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 16.30, 25 May 2020

Shielding and protecting the vulnerable

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. Local Assistance Helpline: 0300 300 0230 open Mon - Fri from 8.45am - 4.45pm. On Monday 25 May (bank holiday) the helpline will be open from 10am-3pm.

On this page:

What is shielding and what does it mean?

Access to food and medicine

Other questions and support

What is shielding and what does it mean?

What is shielding? 

Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are within this very high-risk group, a letter from the Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer has been sent to you.   

The letter advises you to begin a complete quarantine and asks you do not leave your home at all for 12 weeks - not even for food, medicine or exercise. Anybody you share a household with must minimise contact with you. 

This is different advice than for the rest of the population. Following it will greatly reduce the risk of you being infected and becoming seriously unwell. 

It means all your supplies i.e. food, medicine and key household products such as toiletries, will need to be delivered to you. Ideally, this support will be provided by family or friends, or through online shopping or medicine delivered direct from a pharmacy. 

But if this is not possible, the council and our partners will arrange to get your supplies to you. If you need this help, you can call our local assistance number on 0300 300 0230 open Mon - Fri from 8.45am - 5.00pm. 

Who does shielding apply to? 

If you receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer about shielding, it's because the NHS has identified you as having an underlying disease or health condition that means if you catch the virus, you are more likely to become seriously ill than others. This applies to people who: 

  • have had a solid organ transplant; 
  • have lung cancer and are receiving active chemotherapy or radiotherapy 
  • have cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment 
  • have severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma and severe COPD 
  • have rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections such as SCID and homozygous sickle cell 
  • are receiving immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer 
  • are receiving other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors 
  • have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs 
  • are receiving immunosuppression therapies that significantly increase risk of infection 
  • are pregnant with significant heart disease (congenital or acquired) 

What do I have to do? 

Please stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks from today, except from with carers and healthcare workers who you must see as part of your medical care. This means: 

  • STRICTLY AVOID contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).  
  • DON'T leave your home.  
  • DON'T attend any gatherings - including those with friends and families 
  • DON'T go out for shopping, leisure or travel 
  • ALL food or medication deliveries should be left at the door to minimise contact 

What about the rest of my household? 

The people who share your home with you do not need to shield - but they must support you to stay safe and must stringently follow guidance on physical distancing, by reducing their contact outside the home. If you live with other people, you should:  

  • minimise the time you spend with others in shared spaces (kitchen, bathroom and sitting areas) and keep any shared spaces well ventilated 
  • keep two metres away from others and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible 
  • use separate towels and, if possible, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, or clean the bathroom with cleaning products after every use 
  • avoid using the kitchen with other members of your family, take your meals back to your room to eat, and ensure all kitchenware is cleaned thoroughly  

What if I don't want to follow the advice?  

If you have been asked to shield it's because you have been identified as at risk of falling seriously ill should you be infected with Coronavirus. It is your choice to decide whether to follow these measures but we strongly recommend you follow the medical advice - it's there to protect you from serious illness, and could save your life. 

Can I have visitors? 

No - you should avoid all visitors to the home, except for essential carers or someone who supports you with everyday needs - unless they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus. All visitors should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when they arrive, before and after preparing food and frequently during their visit. 

Where do I go for more info? 

You can find additional information on shielding on the NHS website.

The Scottish Government is running a text-message service for people who are shielding to keep in touch with you and send the latest info direct to your phone. 

To sign up all you need to do is text 07860 064525. When you text, please include your CHI number, which is the ten-digit number at the top of your letter. 

Access to food and medicine

How can I get the food and medicine I need? 

If you are in touch with friends, family or a support network in your community who can support you to get food and medicine, please do so - but follow the advice in your letter in terms of avoiding contact and supplies being left at your door. 

If you do not have people who can help support you, the Council, Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership and the NHS will work together to make sure you have access to food supplies and any medicines you need. 

To access this support, call us on 0300 300 0230 to speak to a local assistance adviser. The helpline is open Mon - Fri from 8.45am - 5.00pm. You can also email out of these hours and a member of the team will get in touch.

We have a network of council staff and volunteers ready to support you and can arrange for them to deliver your supplies to your doorstep. 

Our delivery teams are being appropriately trained and will make sure they follow strict social distances and are fit and well. When we have your contact information and know what your requirements are, we can work on getting support to you right away. 

You can also visit our Supporting Communities page to find out what local groups are operating in your local area.  

What happens when I call? 

You will speak to an adviser who will take your details and discuss the support you need. We will discuss all the help you need to help you stay at home, and work with you to put this in place. 

How do I get my medicines?  

Pharmacies can deliver prescriptions direct to you. If you already have a delivery service in place with your pharmacy you should keep using this. 

If you don't currently have this service in place, you can either: 

  • Ask someone to pick up your prescription for you and leave them at your door 
  • Contact your pharmacy to arrange for them to deliver your medicines to you. People who are not able to leave the house will be prioritised for delivery. 

If you need help to arrange this, call our local assistance team on 0300 300 0230.

If you get medicines or equipment from your hospital care team, they will arrange to have them delivered to you. 

Other questions and support

I've not received a letter, but I think I should have. What should I do?

Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are within this very high-risk group, a letter from the Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer has been sent to you. If you consider yourself to be in this group but have not yet received a letter and require immediate help please call our Local Assistance Helpline on 0300 300 0230 and speak to a member of our team.

I do not need to shield but I am still at high risk. What should I do?

People who are considered at high-risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) but who are not required to shield can access localised support through a free helpline. This applies to people who are over 70, pregnant, disabled, require an annual flu jab for health reasons or require support through mental health services. The free helpline is available on 0800 111 4000 from 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.

What happens if I become unwell? 

If you think you have developed symptoms of coronavirus, such as a new, continuous cough and/or high temperature (above 37.8 °C), you must seek clinical advice immediately by phoning the NHS on 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms and do not wait.  

How do I look after my own well-being? 

We understand 12 weeks is long time to go without getting outside and that will be difficult, particularly if you are living on your own. There are things you can do to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing while you are shielding - the NHS Inform website has some good advice.  

Our educational psychologists also have some advice on how to look after a child's wellbeing during self-isolation

We can also help you with wellbeing support, money advice and access to financial support and advice, and support with housing. Call 0300 300 0230 for more information.

You can also view our Communities page which lists the various groups offering support. 

What about my job/going to work? 

The letter from the Chief Medical Officer is evidence for your employer, to show that you cannot work outside the home. You do not need to get a separate fit note from your GP. 

Can I leave the house to attend hospital or medical appointments? 

Wherever possible, your GP will provide care by phone, email or online. If your GP needs to see you in person, they will contact you to arrange a visit. 

For planned hospital appointments, NHS Scotland has written to your hospital to ask them to review ongoing care. Some clinics and appointments may be cancelled or postponed. Your hospital or clinic will contact you by phone or letter if any changes need to be made to your care or treatment. Otherwise you should assume this is taking place as planned. Please contact your hospital or clinic directly if you have any questions.  

If you have an urgent medical question relating to your existing medical condition (i.e. not Coronavirus), or the condition of the person you are caring for please contact your GP practice, or specialist hospital care team, directly.