COVID-19 help for adults with learning disabilities
We have produced a number of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help people with learning disabilities access the latest information on COVID-19 and find information and further advice and support online. Have a look at the queries below which we'll be constantly updating.
MENCAP has a range of great resources on its website including an easy to read guide.
The Wiltshire Parent Carer Council website home page also has a selection of social stories on their website to help explain the coronavirus and why social isolation and social distancing is important:
Books Beyond Words has produced some short wordless stories to help people to understand what to do if they have Coronavirus and how to keep themselves and others safe. The stories also show how to safely help others who may be self-isolating, and explain social distancing, lockdown, and support with mental health and daily routines suggestions. Supplementary text at the end of the stories give information on where people can seek help if they are unwell, and signposts to other useful resources.
There are several titles available on the Books Beyond Words website including: Beating the Virus and Good Days and Bad Days During Lockdown. All titles are free to download from the Books Beyond Website.
The Bath and North East Somerset Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BSW CCG) has put up a list of FAQS around COVID-19 and the vaccine which can be viewed at https://bsw.icb.nhs.uk/news-and-events/live-covid-19/.
NHS England have developed a film for people with learning difficulties and / or autistic people about vaccination. It describes what a vaccine is, how vaccines are made, why you should get a vaccine, whether a vaccine make you ill and how to decide whether to have a vaccine. Easy read leaflets have also been released: COVID-19 Vaccine easy read leaflet; National lockdown: stay at home easy read.
The Hand Washing Rap by The Purple All Stars (Vimeo) is a fun guide to handwashing you can share.
There are a range of local organisations who have social media groups including:
- Wiltshire Centre For Independent Living which has a a Facebook page, Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living @WiltshireCIL.
- The Wiltshire Parent Carer Council website home page supports parent carers of children and young people with additional needs and also has a Facebook page, The Wiltshire Parent Carer Council.
When using social media, please be safe. MENCAP has a guide on how to use the internet safely.
- Wiltshire Parent Carer Council website home page has information, advice, guidance and resources to support parent carers:
Facebook page, The Wiltshire Parent Carer Council.
- Carer support Wiltshire has a range of advice and support available
The government has said that everyone is entitled to go shopping for essential items. Find out more about COVID-19 - accessing food and essential supplies and support available.
The government has also produced GOV.UK: Staying alert and safe (social distancing).
You can only spend time with people who you live with. You must not meet up with friends and family. Lots of people are using social media such as Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp to see their friends and family.
- Wiltshire Parent Carer Council website home page has some ideas for how people can be occupied whilst social distancing measures are in place
- has links to many activities to people of all ages and abilities.
Department for work & pensions (DWP) - Browse benefits. Please check their page regularly for updates on the arrangements the Department for Work and Pensions is making to support those who are affected by coronavirus. There is information about changes to Statutory Sick Pay, changes to Jobcentre appointments, changes to health and disability-related benefits' assessments, and making a new claim.
MENCAP safesurfing provides information.
The charity The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust has a Stay Safe Online Team which is currently offering advice regarding online safety. One of the police vetted volunteers can call to provide advice. People can refer themselves by calling and leaving a message on 01380 861191 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Along with partner authorities we have worked with Wiltshire Police to create The Herbert Protocol. This is a booklet which can be used to store information on the person you care for which can then be used to assist family, friends and others including the police if the person goes missing.
Anyone with a learning disability is entitled to receive a free flu vaccination. Carers of anyone with a learning disability are also entitled to the free vaccination. The vaccine offers the best level of protection from the flu virus, and it's important to have the vaccine every year as the flu virus strain changes every year. YouTube: Flu vaccination: Just don’t let anything stop you
Many people including people with a learning disability are exempt from wearing face masks. For some people wearing a face mask is not possible because of their disability or because it causes them severe distress. These are some of the reasons the government has set out for exemption. You can find further detail on the Mencap: Mencap responds to new rules on face-masks
People need to wear face coverings to keep themselves and you as safe as possible. By wearing them, they are doing their best to reduce the spread of the virus.
Some people with Downs Syndrome are classified as being clinically extremely vulnerable. If you are identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable you will receive a letter from the DHSC with guidance.
No, you and the person you're supporting can meet someone from outside of the household, while maintaining the social distancing rules. GOV.UK: Guidance Getting help with daily activities outside your home during coronavirus
Public Health England (PHE) has Public Health England: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Looking after your feelings and your body March 2020 on COVID-19, how it may affect you and what you need to do to keep yourself safe and well. There is also other MENCAP: Latest coronavirus information - easy read information and Skills for Care: Learning disability and mental health you are having.
- you should keep in touch with people you trust (like friends, family and employer) over the phone or internet. Follow the advice in the GOV.UK: Public Health England - Guidance How to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the GOV.UK: Guidance COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.
- there may also be self-advocacy groups in your area offering more support online or by phone. You can ask your families or carers for help to search for these groups
- it is also important to get information about COVID-19 only from places you can trust, such as the NHS: Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mencap easy to read guide: The lockdown rules in England 5.11.21
Learning Disability England also has a range of Learning Disability England: home page
While it is important to be aware of COVID-19, it is important not to forget about any other health conditions you might have. Make sure you take any medication you have been prescribed, keep any hospital appointments you have (unless you have been told otherwise by the hospital) and tell people if you can't attend appointments.
The help they need will depend on the nature of their disability. People with a mild or moderate learning disability may need additional accessible information and more time to understand what they might need to do to keep themselves safe and well at this time. People with severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities will need more help to ensure they are able to follow the advice on COVID-19 (for example, handwashing) and to make sure the right communication aids are available. This will be specific to each person. It will also be important to keep a degree of normality where possible, doing things that are enjoyable and enabling people to talk about how they are feeling. For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care: Top tips for talking about our feelings.