Coronavirus Information and Advice

Carers MK is operating as closely to our normal services as we possibly can at this time. We are now carrying out support groups, activities, training, workshops and counselling virtually or via the telephone. Check out the Support Groups via Zoom timetable.

All our staff have the ability to work from home which enables us to continue to deliver our Information, Advice and Guidance services via the telephone. We will be continuing to take calls during our normal working hours, Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. Please do not hesitate to get in touch: 01908 231703 or mail@carersmiltonkeynes.org

Advice for carers

Unpaid carers are included in Priority Group 6 of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. There is a phased approach to this group, not all unpaid carers will receive their vaccination appointment at this time. Only carers who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically extremely vulnerable are being invited at this stage.

We understand it is a worrying time and everyone is anxious to receive their vaccination but please be reassured that those not in this first stage will be invited accordingly. To date unpaid carers have been identified via their GP Carer Flag or due to being in receipt of/eligible for Carer’s Allowance.

Carers Milton Keynes does not have any information on when or where you may receive your appointment, you will be contacted direct via the NHS.

If you or the person you care for are defined as extremely vulnerable on medical grounds then you should practise ‘social shielding’. Social shielding is more than just social distancing, it means you should not leave your home (even for shopping) and should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of the household. In most cases you will be advised to practise social shielding for 12 weeks. Read more information on the gov.uk website.

If you are worried that you or the person you care for may be at risk, check out the NHS 111 online coronavirus helpline. The NHS will be contacting people who are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill from Monday 23rd March onwards. If you suspect you or the person you care for fall into this category but haven’t received a letter by Sunday 29th March, you should call your GP or hospital clinician. Read more information on the NHS website.

If you are an extremely vulnerable person, you can also register for support and the government will ensure you get support with things such as deliveries and food supplies. You can register for this on someone else’s behalf. If you are not sure if you are classified as ‘extremely vulnerable’, the advice is to register anyway.

Now is the time to make sure you have an emergency plan in place.

Carers MK has information on planning for an emergency which includes our emergency plan template. Once you have completed your emergency plan, print it out and ensure you leave it in a place that is visible and easily accessible to emergency services if they are required to enter your home, e.g. on the fridge.

If you do not have access to a printer, use the template as guidance for information required when writing out your own emergency plan on paper.

Unpaid carers are included in the publication of new COVID-19 vaccine advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This advice recommends that carers who receive Carers Allowance or who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person should be included in Priority 6, alongside people with underlying conditions. See Carers UK’s website for more information.

Mencap has created an easy read guide about the Covid-19 vaccine.

If you don’t have internet access, can’t get a delivery slot and/or is isolating, you can speak with a real person to place an order by calling 0345 611 6111 and select 5.

More information:

1: Free next-day delivery for the elderly (if in the right area, if not can take up to 2 days). They do ask if you wish to make a donation of £1.50 towards delivery costs. Those not classed as elderly will be asked to pay £4 for the delivery. Delivery time: 10am-6pm

2: Min. order of 5 items, however max. 3 of each item.

3. Carers can call on behalf of the person they care for, giving cared for’s name, address & phone number.

4. Chip & Pin/Contactless payment on delivery with the driver. (May possibly come in unbranded delivery vehicle but the driver will always be in uniform.)

6. This service is going to continue in the future even when we are through the pandemic.

The government has asked parents and guardians to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. By having most children at home, we lower the risk of the virus spreading.

Schools and other childcare providers will continue to provide care for a limited number of children – those who are vulnerable and those whose parents/guardians are key workers. Children classed as vulnerable includes young carers. Read more on who are defined as vulnerable children and key workers. Your schools should also be communicating with you.

You, members of your household and paid carers who come into your house need to remember to follow the advice from the NHS on how to stop the spread of infection.

You can ask your care provider what steps they are taking in terms of infection control.

It is important to ensure that you’re looking after yourself during this time such as eating healthily, getting regular exercise and, when possible, take breaks from your caring role and make time for yourself.

Public Health England’s One You campaign aims to help people live more healthily and has some great home workouts videos which are easy to follow.

Every Mind Matters has lots of information how on how to look after your mental health and specifically during the pandemic. They can help you can create your own Mind Plan with tips to on how to deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control. See Every Mind Matters.

Simple breathing exercises can help to relieve symptoms of stress. Make the NHS breathing exercise for stress part of your daily routine. It’s simple to do, takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.

Mind, a mental health charity, has information for young people who are worried about coronavirus and want to know how to cope with changes to their lives.

It is important to ensure that you’re looking after yourself during this time such as eating healthily, getting regular exercise and, when possible, take breaks from your caring role and make time for yourself.

Public Health England’s One You campaign aims to help people live more healthily and has some great home workouts videos which are easy to follow.

Every Mind Matters has lots of information how on how to look after your mental health and specifically during the pandemic. They can help you can create your own Mind Plan with tips to on how to deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control. See Every Mind Matters.

Simple breathing exercises can help to relieve symptoms of stress. Make the NHS breathing exercise for stress part of your daily routine. It’s simple to do, takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.

Mind, a mental health charity, has information for young people who are worried about coronavirus and want to know how to cope with changes to their lives.

If you become unwell with coronavirus symptoms you should call 111 to get the latest advice and information, and let them know you are a carer. The NHS 111 has an online coronavirus symptom checker.

Where you can, follow the advice on self-isolation. Ideally, you need to remove yourself or the person you care for to a different location. If you cannot, self-isolate as much as possible within your home.

A dangerous fake NHS text has been circulating, telling people they are eligible to apply for the COVID-19 vaccine. See useful advice from Which? to avoid being caught out.

Resources for young people and families
National information

The gov.uk website has up-to-date information from the Government on things such as national restrictions, self-isolating & testing, work and financial support, education, childcare and travel.

Check out the NHS website for the latest NHS information and advice on coronavirus.

If you are worried that you or someone you care for may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance through their online coronavirus symptom checker. Call 111 if symptoms become severe and let them know you are a carer.

This guidance is for everyone in England who has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past.

Read: Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

On 23 December 2020, The Department of Health and Social Care updated the guidance for anyone in England who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who, due to a lifelong condition, illness, disability, serious injury, a mental health condition or an addiction, cannot cope without their support.

It details; what they mean by clinically ‘vulnerable groups’ and clinically ‘extremely vulnerable groups’, if you or the person you care for has symptoms, if you are a carer and you have symptoms as well as general advice on such topics as:

  • Protecting yourself and the person you care for.
  • Flu vaccine.
  • What you should be doing to prepare.
  • Caring for someone who is clinically ‘extremely vulnerable’.
  • If the person you care for is concerned about their usual paid carer coming in and out of their home and the risk of infection.
  • Facemasks and protective clothing (PPE).
  • Wearing a face covering when you have to go out.
  • If the person you care for is in a care home.
  • Maintaining your own health while you are looking after others.
  • Getting support – support bubbles, support from volunteers, carer’s assessments, Carer’s Allowance.
  • If you or the person you care for has symptoms.

Read The Department of Health and Social Care’s guidance for unpaid carers.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (last updated on 29.11.20): Find out if you’re eligible and how much you can get.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave (‘furlough’) because of coronavirus.

Universal Credit

Government confirms £500 million hardship fund will provide council tax relief for vulnerable households (last updated on 24/03/2020)  
Local Government Secretary confirmed £500 million Hardship Fund which will provide support, including council tax relief, in 2020 to 2021 to those who need it most. Guidance was released on 24 March 2020 to provide clarity for councils on how to allocate the funding following its announcement at Budget. The funding will enable further reductions in council tax for working age people in receipt of Local Council Tax Support. 

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (last updated on 23/12/2020)
The government is committed to supporting apprentices, and employers continue to build the skills capabilities the country needs now and in the future. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responding by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of COVID-19, and to support providers during this challenging time.

“Keeping our Customers Safe”

You can access support online where telephone services are also listed (or for UC customers, through your account)

Jobcentre Plus:

  •  Telephone: 0800 055 6688
  •  Textphone: 0800 023 4888 

Universal Credit Helpline:

  • Telephone: 0800 328 5644

In an emergency only call 01753 615676 or 01753 615634 (we will call you back immediately so that we minimise the cost to you).

If you need referral to a Foodbank, please ring us on the above number.

Who To Contact:

  • Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Local information and updates

Local support

Community Action MK have information and advice on; staying at home, how you can help, resources for vulnerable people, financial support, taking care of yourself, self isolation support and activities and COVID-19 information in other languages.

Community Action MK have compiled a list of the local activity listed by the parish council and what you can do to support your community.

Resources and support groups information can also be found on the Community Action MK website.

Milton Keynes Hospital Friends Shop now has an online store for patients and their friends and family.

Patients can order from their ward or their relatives can order items to be sent to them whilst they are in hospital. There is a range of snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines as well as essential toiletries on offer.

How does it work?

Credit and debit cards accepted. Minimum order £3 and there is a delivery charge of 50p.

  • Go on the website like any other online retail shop.
  • Select the items you want to buy; these will appear in your cart.
  • In your cart, select the ward number the items need to be delivered to.
  • Go to checkout and enter contact details of the person ordering and the name of the patient the order is for. You do not need to alter the delivery address details, just double check the ward number is correct.

During this time, when families and friends are not able to visit their loved ones in hospital, the hospital have set up a dedicated email address so that people can send them a letter with a couple of photos.

To do this, email letterstolovedones@mkuh.nhs.uk and attach the letter and photographs. You must also provide your loved one’s date of birth and full name.

Upon receipt, the team will print the letter and laminate any photographs, deliver them to the ward. Please have someone from the ward come and collect the letters from the entrance doors.

If you have any questions regarding the above or need any help, then please call the PALS team on 01908 995 954.

Healthwatch Milton Keynes are talking regularly with MK Clinical Commissioning Group, MK Hospital, MK Council and Public Health to ensure that they have the most up to date information about COVID-19 and the impact on local services in Milton Keynes. Visit Healthwatch Milton Keynes website for their latest information on COVID-19, support from local organisations and community groups, ways to help your community, changes to services and events etc.

In partnership with Milton Keynes Council, MK Community Foundation is launching Covid-19 MK Emergency Response Appeal to generate much needed funds to support local community groups who are most affected and vulnerable at this time. Find out more information about the Covid-19 MK Emergency Response Appeal and how you can either help.

Milton Keynes Council and MK Food Bank have teamed up to offer more help to local people in crisis. Visit the Food Bank Xtra website to find out how you can help or receive help from Food Bank Xtra.

Kooth is free, safe and anonymous. Kooth is here to help and support young people aged 11 – 20 with their mental health and is available 365 days a year. Sign up to Kooth.com

We offer so much more than just counselling. Kooth magazine, forums & live discussion boards, journal, goals and we have our mini activity hub.

Kooth forums:

Friday 29th January – Learning to Be and Showing Your True Self

Live forums can be found in the discussion boards and go online at 7.30pm on the evening they are planned. They are moderated in real-time until 9pm.

Kooth content:

  • Male Mental Health
  • Wellbeing quiz
  • Relationship communication styles
  • Global/eco anxiety
  • The creative power of storytelling (for national storytelling week 30th Jan – 6th Feb)

Service updates to local organisations

Some council facilities are temporarily closed, including the Civic offices. Find out more information on the current changes to the council services.

Visit Milton Keynes Council’s website for the latest coronavirus information and advice, as well as the support you can get from the council and elsewhere.

As of Monday 30th March 2020, Citizens Advice Milton Keynes have re-introduced their email and telephone service.

  • Email: advice@mkcab.org.uk
  • Telephone number: 0808 278 7991 (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm)
  • Universal Credit helpline (freephone): 0800 144 8444 (Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm)
  • Vulnerable Adults helpline: 01908 545191 (calls charged at local rate)

Check their website and twitter for up to date information.

Milton Keynes SEND IAS Service will be operating a telephone and email advice service only until further notice. 

PACAMK are not holding any meetings or events at present, but still contactable by mobile phone, email, and social media.

Please keep a look out for us on social media and regular email bulletins to keep you up to date, as well as the PACAMK website up-to-date with useful links.

Useful organisations

Support with mental health

Provides emotional support for those in distress or going through an emotional or mental health crisis.
Free phone: 116 123 (24 hour service)

Arthur Ellis Mental Health Services have redesigned their services in response to the current situation.

Please note, there is charge for services but they have been reduced in order to make sure this is as accessible as possible, only covering staff costs.

Public Health – a shared service across Milton Keynes, Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire have created Coronavirus: Looking After Your Mental Health which has tips and advice on how we can keep on top of our mental wellbeing and cope during times of uncertainty, as well as useful local contacts to other mental health organisations.

Mind BLMK works across our communities to support positive mental health and wellbeing.

Supporting young people with their mental health. Their counselling service is continuing by telephone but they are unable to accept new referrals. However, young people or adults that support them can contact them on Facebook Messenger to get informal support from one of our trained professionals. Further information can be found on their website

For older people or carers of older people

Age UK MK has set up as a crisis hub for the over 70s and are supplying emergency packages of essentials and food, shopping, collecting prescriptions and telephone befriending. People can refer by phoning 01908 550700.

The Independent Living Service continues to operate separately, with some restrictions.

Age Space website provides you with practical help and advice to support elderly relatives at risk.

They also have a coronavirus Facebook group to offer support to people supporting elderly relatives.

Keeping Healthy in Self-Isolation Video
The Open University has created a short film linking the ‘Five Pillars of Ageing Well’ and how best to use these when self-isolating and under lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

Learn my Way: Video-Calling
In this video calling course you will learn about how you can see people when chatting to them on the internet. The course explains what you need to make video calls and help you choose the best method for you.

The following articles have been shared to inspire ideas about how we can use technology to stay connected:

The only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: 0800 470 80 90

Supporting people who are over the age of 65 and in self-isolation. If anyone needs help with grocery shopping, prescription/medicine collection, posting letters or need any advice, please contact the team at MKHA on 0300 365 1008 or covid_support@mkha.org 

For people with disabilities and their carers

As shared public spaces from pubs and cafes to churches and gyms close their doors to prevent the spread of the virus, virtual communities are more important than ever.

Independent Living Facebook Group provides a safe place for people with disabilities and carers looking for advice, shared experiences, or just a sympathetic ear.

It is a closed group. You just need to request membership and answer the two simple questions, and the group administrators will approve you.

For carers of people with learning disabilities

Learning Disability Professional Senate has put together resources to use with people with learning disabilities through the coronavirus restrictions.

For families

Arthur Ellis Mental Health Services have redesigned their services in response to the current situation.

Please note, there is charge for services but they have been reduced in order to make sure this is as accessible as possible, only covering staff costs.

Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, support families with the best possible guidance and information. They bring families together to support each other and help families to campaign, volunteer and fundraise to improve life for themselves and others.

Government guidance on maintaining educational provision
Exceptions have been announced for children of key workers, vulnerable children with social workers and children with education, health and care (EHC) plansThe government has now published guidance on this. In the guidance it states that schools are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with EHC plans.

What does the emergency Coronavirus bill mean for disabled children?
The emergency Coronavirus Bill published on 19th March 2020 by the government and made an initial assessment for families with disabled children. The aim of the Bill is to help the government deal with the current coronavirus pandemic. It’s not law yet and still needs to pass through Parliament – so there will be a very short opportunity to influence it, which Contact and their partners will try to do.

Fledglings online shop
It remains open and includes goods such as continence products and dishwasher-safe toys: fledglings.org.uk

COVID-19 and families with disabled children – resources to help
Families caring for disabled children may be particularly worried about the COVID-19 coronavirus. You might find it helpful to read these two resources from WellChild and Carers UK.

Contact’s free helpline: 0808 808 3555
Website: contact.org.uk

Healthwatch Milton Keynes has information on how to explain about coronavirus to children and young people, how to support their mental health and wellbeing as well as listing other useful organisations.

National Autistic Society have created resources and tips for autistic people and families. 

Visit their website for more information.

Suffolk Parent Carer Network and SENsational Families have co-produced this booklet with education, health and care services. It is intended to provide information for parents and carers about Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Young Minds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health. 

They have information on talking to your child about coronavirus and Ten tips from Young Mind’s Parent Helpline to support family wellbeing.

Telephone Number: 020 7089 5050
Parent Helpline: 0808 802 5544 (Mon – Fri, 9:30am – 4pm)
Urgent Help: Text YM to 85258

For young people

We’re working a little differently because of coronavirus. It may also take us a little longer than normal to reply to emails.

But you can still call us on 0800 1111  to speak to a counsellor, they’re there to listen and support you with anything you’d like to talk about. Or you can have a 1-2-1 counsellor chat online between 7.30am and 3.30am every day. You can also send us an email from your locker. We’ll try to answer this within a day, but sometimes it can take a little longer.

Visit the Childline website for more information.

Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people. You will either need to log in or sign up. Online hours: Monday to Friday 12pm – 10pm, Saturday to Sunday 6pm – 10pm.

Provides emotional support for those in distress or going through an emotional or mental health crisis.
Free phone: 116 123 (24 hour service)
Website: samaritans.org

Telephone number: 01908 253 772