Coronavirus > Coronavirus information and support > Supporting the person you care for

Caring for someone with a chest, heart or stroke condition during coronavirus

A ‘carer’ is anyone who provides unpaid care for a partner, relative or friend living with a long-term condition who cannot manage without their support. Anyone can be a carer.

Caring for someone is an important job. You will be making a huge difference to the life of the person you are caring for. Due to coronavirus however, providing this care may be particularly difficult right now. You might be worried about the risks of coronavirus for you and the person you care for, you might not have other people able to help you provide the care, or you might not be able to get the breaks you need.

Following the advice in these pages can help you to reduce your risks and look after the person you care for.

Have an Emergency Care Plan in place in case you become ill

If you provide essential care for someone living with a chest, heart or stroke

condition and you develop symptoms of coronavirus, you must stop providing

care immediately. Having an Emergency Care Plan in place will help to make sure that the person you are caring for continues to receive the care they need if you become unwell. This is especially important right now as support services may find it difficult to provide support at short notice, if needed.

The following advice and information can help you to put an Emergency Care Plan together. If possible, make sure the person you care for is involved in the development of the plan.

Having this information ready now will make it much easier if care needs to be taken over later.

First steps

  • Discuss with family and friends if there is anyone who could take over your caring role if you become unwell.
  • If you are not able to arrange informal care from a family member or friend, contact your local social work department to find out what you would need to do. You can find their details at www.socialworkscotland.org/contact.
  • Make sure the person you care for has information on who they should call if they feel unwell, including their GP and NHS 24 (tel: 111).

Putting the plan together
Include a list of the following key information in the plan:

  • the contact details of the person you care for
  • the contact details of the person who will take over their care (if you have them)
  • details of any medications the person you care for may be taking, including what each medication is for, when it is taken and where it is stored
  • the details any support services they receive
  • any mobility challenges or mobility aids they might have
  • a list of any planned medical appointments
  • details of their GP and/or specialist healthcare team
  • any other helpful information, such as their daily routine.

Keep a copy of the plan in the home of the person you care for, where people can see it. If a friend or family member is able to take over care, give them a copy of the plan too and discuss any questions they might have.

If you need help with care but you are not sure who to contact, go to www.careinfoscotland.scot/topics/how-to-get-care-services

Helping the person you care for to reduce their risk

As a carer, you can play an important role in supporting the person you care for to reduce their risk of coronavirus by:

  • sharing the advice of NHS Scotland about how to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus
  • making sure they have the right information about coronavirus and sharing updates from reliable and trustworthy sources, for example, NHS Inform and the Scottish Government
  • supporting them to make sure they have what they need to reduce their risk, such as enough soap and tissues
  • talking with them about how they are feeling and understand that they might be feeling worried, anxious or uncertain – it can also help for you to talk about your feelings too
  • helping them to monitor their health and any new symptoms
  • helping them to take the right action if they think they have developed symptoms of coronavirus.

What to do while providing care

You can help to help reduce the risk of coronavirus while providing care by:

  • Washing your hands when you arrive and come in after being outside and regularly during your visit. Use soap and water or hand sanitiser. Wash them for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Put the tissue in the bin straight away then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, use your sleeve.
  • Providing care only if you feel well. If you feel unwell and think you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must stop providing care immediately.

If you are caring for someone who is considered to be at very high risk of coronavirus, it is important to be extra careful with their care. For more information, check the NHS Inform website.

Looking out for changes to normal symptoms 

As a carer, it is important you know about the health condition of the person you care for and how best it can be managed. Information on chest, heart and stroke conditions can be found on our website and from our health information resources.

During coronavirus, it is important that any health condition is managed at home the way it usually would be and to keep looking out for any changes to usual symptoms. If you need advice about anything to do with the health condition, you should call the GP or specialist medical team of the person you care for.

It is also important to know about how coronavirus might affect the person you care for. You can find information on what symptoms to look out on our coronavirus webpages.

For some people, eating can make them breathless or make their breathlessness worse. It is important look out for any unplanned weight loss. If you think the person you are caring for has lost weight, speak to their health professional.

What to do if the person you care for develops symptoms of coronavirus

It is important that you know what to do if the person you are caring for shows symptoms of coronavirus.

If you are in the ‘very vulnerable’ group, you should stop providing care. It is important to have an Emergency Care Plan in place in case care need to be taken over.

If you are not in the very vulnerable group, you can continue to provide care but try to limit contact as much as possible. This will be difficult but if possible, sleep in separate beds, use separate household items like cutlery and crockery, try to stay in separate rooms as much as possible, wash your hands often and disinfect surfaces regularly.

If someone in your household develops symptoms of coronavirus, they need to self-isolate for 7 days. Everyone else in the household will need to self-isolate for at least 14 days. Our guide explains more on how long you will need to self-isolate.

For up-to-date advice and information on extra care to take if you are caring for someone at very high-risk of coronavirus, you can also go the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus or call the NHS coronavirus helpline on 0800 028 2816.