Since the 16th of August, government advice has been that those who have previously followed shielding advice no longer need to do so, unless expressly advised otherwise by a medical professional.
Some transplant patients and those on the waiting list may have been advised to continue, so please clarify with your transplant team for advice regarding your specific circumstances.
It’s also worth remembering that, while the restrictions are being relaxed, all shielding patients’ details are kept on government records and they may be asked to shield again at some point in the future, on an individual basis.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has written to all people on the shielding list, advising that they can now follow the same rules as the rest of the population. Which is:
- You no longer need to stay 2 metres or 3 steps away from people you live with or who are part of your extended household.
- You can now go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business is COVID secure (has taken reasonable measures to minimise risk to employees);
- Children who have been shielding can return to school when schools re-start.
- You can now go out for any reason, including going to shops to buy food, but you should stay 2 metres or 3 steps from other people.
Whilst this news is a welcome relief for some, it will also be a source of concern for others. It is normal for all, regardless of whether you have been shielding or not, to feel concerned even anxious about returning to the world after lockdown.
The Welsh Government state the key things to remember are:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Stay 2 metres or 3 steps away from people you do not live with or are not part of the one other household your family may be joined with (also known as an extended household).
- Eat healthily and take regular exercise.
- Remember to take any medication your doctor has told you to take.
- Get your free NHS jabs to protect you from other diseases such as measles (you can speak to your doctor about this).
- Get your free NHS annual flu jab when it becomes available in the autumn (you can speak to your doctor about this).
This is great advice, but what about getting out and about? How do I enter out into the world and keep myself, my child and my family safe?
The Paul Popham Fund suggest it is also worth breaking down the different factors and working out what you feel unsure about. Is it a trip to the supermarket, is it the time spent in the shop, or the drive? Could you walk instead? Could you have a socially distanced meeting with a friend to introduce a bit of familiarity? Ask: what would make this a bit more achievable?
With all this in mind, here at the Paul Popham Fund, we have come up with a 5-step personal risk assessment to help you and your family prepare for venturing back out into the world at large:
- IDENTIFY what the risks are to you. What do you consider a risk that you may face coming out of shielding. Going to the supermarket or back to school, going to a restaurant for a meal as a family, meeting friends, shopping for school clothes, doctor or hospital appointments.
- CONSIDER what could put you at risk. Carrying a shopping basket? Entering a restaurant and eating alongside others? Sitting at a desk in school that is not distributed, 2 metres apart?
- FIND OUT what measures are in place to keep you safe? Does the school, restaurant, supermarket have procedures in place to minimise risk?
- PLAN AHEAD – put a plan in place to keep you safe, your child and family safe. Know what you will do when you get to the restaurant or when your child goes back to school and try to follow it.
- REVIEW – once you have had your first experience, review what it was like and decide what you would do next time to keep you and everyone around you as safe as possible.
Try and think of all the situations you might find yourself in, so that you are well prepared for all eventualities – this should help reduce any anxiety you might feel.
Above all else, do only what you feel comfortable with in order to continue to keep you and your family safe. If you find yourself in an environment or set of circumstances that you feel may be unsafe, with increased risk, you should use your judgement and trust your instincts – don’t be afraid to tell people of your concerns.
The key message the Paul Popham Fund want to relay is that everyone should be un-shielding at your own pace and managing the process on an individual basis, and if you are really unsure seek advice.
If you have any worries concerning these issues, please contact our careline on 0800 038 8989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org