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Shielding - people at high risk

Shielding - people at high risk

Last updated: 15/04/2020

What is shielding and what does it mean?

Access to food, medicine and other support

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're within this 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 don't leave your home at all for at least 12 weeks - not even for food, medicine or exercise. Anybody you share a household with must minimise their 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: food, medicine and key household products such as toiletries, will need to be delivered to you. Ideally, this should be provided by family, friends, neighbours or through online shopping or medicine delivered from a pharmacy. However, if this isn't possible, we'll arrange to get your supplies to you. If you need this help, you can call our shielding support line on 0141 577 3093. 

Who does shielding apply to? 

Shielding applies to people who:

  • have had organ transplants
  • have cancer and are receiving active chemotherapy
  • have lung cancer and are either receiving or previously received radical radiotherapy
  • have cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • 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 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • 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 immunosuppression therapies that significantly increase risk of infection
  • are pregnant with significant heart disease (congenital or acquired)

Shielding is for your personal protection, it's your choice to decide whether to follow these measures.

What do I have to do? 

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

  • strictly avoiding contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of 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
  • do keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  • do use telephone or online services to contact your GP (for non-Coronavirus related matters) or other essential services.
  • do regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Ask carers or support workers who visit your home to do the same.

What about the rest of my household? 

The people who share your home with you don't need to shield, but they must support you to stay safe and must stringently follow guidance on social 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 2 metres (3 steps) 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're in the shielding group it's because you have been identified by the NHS as being at risk of falling seriously unwell if you're infected with Coronavirus. It is your choice whether to follow these measures, but we strongly recommend you do. These measure have been put in place 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've any 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 about 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. Even if you don't require any support we would encourage you to sign up. 

All you need to do is text 07860 064525. When you text, please include your CHI number. This is the 10 digit number at the top of your letter. 

Access to food, medicine and other support

How can I get food, medicine and other support? 

If you're in touch with family, friends, neighbours or other people in your community who could help, please ask them, but follow the advice in your letter about avoiding face-to-face contact and supplies being left at your door. 

If you don't have people who could help you, we and our partners will work together to make sure you have the supplies you need. 

To access this support, call our shielding support line  on 0141 577 3093. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.45am - 4.45pm (excluding bank holidays). You can also email and a member of the team will get back in touch.

We've a network of council staff and volunteers ready to help and can arrange for them to deliver your supplies to your doorstep. 

Staff and volunteers are given guidance and will make sure they follow strict measures to keep you and them safe. 

You can also visit our partner Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire to find out about the Community Hub we are working with them on.  

What happens when I call the shielding contact number? 

You'll speak to a customer services team member who will take your details, discuss your circumstances and how will help you to stay at home and shielded.

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 aren't able to leave the house will be prioritised for delivery and we're helping pharmacies by offering additional drivers.

If you need help to arrange this, call us on our shielding support line on 0141 577 3093. 

If you get medicines or equipment from your hospital care team, they'll 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. If you're 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 haven't yet received a letter please phone your GP to discuss. If you require any urgent help you can call our shielding support line on 0141 577 3093.

What happens if I become unwell? 

If you think you've 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 don't wait.  

How do I look after my own wellbeing? 

We understand 12 weeks is long time to go without getting outside and that will be difficult, particularly if you're 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.  

We can also help you with your wellbeing, offer money advice and access to financial support and advice, and support with housing. Call our shielding support line on 0141 577 3093 for more information.

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 don't 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'll 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.