Support for you in your caring role 

If you are new to a caring role during COVID-19 it is very important that you contact your local Trust (see contact details at end of this Advice) and identify yourself as a carer.  This will allow the Trust to be aware of you and your situation and give you access to various support and help provided by the Trust.

If your family member is already in receipt of services and you have any concerns about the cared for person, contact the named worker who will be best placed to give advice and support.


Should I let carers/care workers into my home?

Government advice is for you to continue to get the help you need.  Domiciliary care workers and community staff will follow strict guidelines about hygiene in order to keep you safe.  It is important that as a carer you read, understand and follow the guidance for hand hygiene and keeping your home clean.


If the person you care for needs to go to hospital

If the person you care for needs to go into hospital, the information contained in the link below will give you guidance about supporting the person whilst they are in hospital:

DoH Visiting Hospitals Guidance (pdf)


Carer’s Assessment

As a carer you are entitled to a Carer’s Assessment so that the Trust can identify your needs.  During COVID-19 (Cornoavirus) the Trust may need to contact you by phone or using video (e.g. Skype, Facetime etc) in order to talk to you about your situation. Talk to your local Trust and/or Care Co-ordinator about this.

As Trusts respond to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic their capacity to respond to requests may be impacted. Therefore, it might take longer to process your request for an assessment. However, do not let that put you off asking for an assessment – by law you are entitled to an assessment


What is a Carer’s Assessment? - assessments for carers - assessments Northern Ireland (pdf)

More information on Carer's Assessment

Direct Payments/Self Directed Support

Direct Payments can be made to you so that you can ‘buy-in’ your own help rather than using the services provided by the Trust. If you think Direct Payments might help you, discuss this with your named worker or your local Trust’s Carer Co-ordinator.

Please access the links below for further information and help: - Direct Payments

Centre for Independent Living NI

Please note that Direct Payments are just one option in a range of services Trusts will provide in conjunction with the assessment of need or where those already in receipt of Direct Payments have been assessed as having a change in their circumstances which requires a revision of existing provision.

During the assessment process, Trusts will seek to engage with families during this period in regard to their specific circumstances and will try to be as flexible as possible in responding to your needs 


Carer’s Allowance

If you are new to caring or are looking after someone and do not receive an allowance, you may be entitled to some financial support, called Carer’s Allowance.  It is paid by the Department for Communities. Information on the allowance can be accessed here: - carers allowance

Existing carers will continue to be paid Carer’s Allowance when they have temporarily ceased to care for someone due to either of them self-isolating or being infected with coronavirus.

During the COVID-19 pandemic emotional support can also count towards the 35 hours a week you spend caring for someone who is ill.


Voluntary/community support

Every effort will be made to support communities to work together to help the most vulnerable in our society. The Department of Health and Department of Communities are currently undertaking work with community and voluntary groups in order to co-ordinate and support the capacity of the groups and volunteers who are able to support isolated people or people in need in the community. 

If you need to be put in contact with a community and voluntary group working in your area for support then you can use the COVID-19 Community Helpline operated on behalf of the Department of Communities by Advice NI.  The Freephone COVID-19 Community Helpline number is 0808 802 0020 or email: [email protected] or text: ACTION to 81025.

There is a Family Support Hub in your area and their work is continuing. They can provide access to a wide range of early help services including foodbanks, advice on parenting and children`s issues through to money matters. Details of services are available are on:

The Family Support NI website

Children & Young Peoples Strategic Partnership website or

NI Direct website. - support hubs

Short breaks

In response to the latest government directives and announcement about restriction of movements all Trust arranged short break provision has been stopped in the short-term.  This position will be kept under review as the COVID-19 situation develops.

If you are in receipt of Direct Payments, you might be able to think of creative ways to use this money for some short breaks provision, perhaps paying a family member, friend or neighbour to do your shopping, cook your meals or another task which doesn’t involve direct care but can give you a break to exercise, catch up on sleep or relax.

It is important that you also look after your own health and well-being for your own sake and to enable you to continue caring.  If you are concerned about your situation you should speak to your named worker.

Do look at the section above called Physical and emotional wellbeing during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) about coping during this difficult period.


Short breaks including residential short breaks for children with disability including those with complex health needs

Nevertheless, the range of short break services are recognised as an important aspect of support especially to families caring for disabled children.  Services will strive to seek a balance between maintaining this support and ensuring the health of the person being cared for is not further compromised.

Details of support and role of from Family Support Hubs is noted above


What if I need medical supplies?

If you normally receive medical supplies from the Trust or by through your GP prescription to your community pharmacy, or from your district Nurse, this will continue.  This process has not changed.  Those who are on regular prescriptions are being advised to order in good time and if there are difficulties to contact your named worker.


Access to PPE (masks, aprons etc).

If you normally receive such items because of the nature of the care you provide, you will continue to receive these in the usual way.

Trusts should ensure that all Direct Payment recipients have a named worker in their Trust to contact about the need for PPE provision.  In this situation the Direct Payment recipient should not be charged for the provision of PPE from Trust stocks.  

Should you believe your requirement for certain types of PPE changes or you have a new requirement for PPE as a result of suspected or confirmed Covid-19, you should discuss the correct type and use of PPE with your named worker in the Trust.

As a result of COVID-19, if resources are not available through the Trust, a Direct Payment recipient, may purchase PPE out of their Personal Budget fund, without prior Trust approval. They can then record, and report the associated costs for reimbursement under normal Direct Payment practices.

If your care is provided by an independent provider, for example a domiciliary care provider, then the provider must source and provide the PPE.


Local pharmacy/prescriptions

If a patient is unable to collect their own prescription from the general practice or community pharmacy they are advised to:

  • ask someone who can do this on your behalf, such as a friend, neighbour, family member or local support network (this is the best option, if possible);
  • If this cannot be arranged some community pharmacies may be able to arrange to collect and deliver your prescription to your home.


On-line shopping

You are encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible, especially if you are looking after a person who is shielding.  Getting your shopping delivered directly by the supermarket is a useful way of getting your groceries without the need to venture outside.  The main supermarket chains all offer a home delivery service. You will need to set up an online account and be able to pay by either a debit or credit card.  Planning ahead will be necessary as delivery slots can be quickly taken up although the supermarkets are working to increase capacity.

Smaller local shops may also be offering home deliveries.  Either phone round or check Facebook and other social media platforms for details in your area.

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has developed a map showing small businesses who are offering a delivery service.  It can be accessed here:

Who's Delivering Northern Ireland