Coronavirus – health and wellbeing
Coronavirus - health and wellbeing
Coronavirus is a health issue in itself and is having a knock on effect on mental health and well-being for many children and parents. This section also covers what parents need to know about how the health and therapy services their child would normally use are operating during the COVID-19 period.
Coronavirus health advice
Testing for coronavirus has been extended and is now open to anyone who has symptoms, whatever their age. Essential workers (including unpaid carers) can also get a test if they are self-isolating because another member of their household has symptoms. Initial issues with getting hold of home tests or getting a test appointment are much improved now and there are more local testing centres. Find out more about who is eligible and how to request a test.
If you need to carry out a test on your child or young person you can watch this video to see how to do it.
If your child’s condition does not improve after 7 days or symptoms worsens, you should contact NHS 111
Check current government advice on who is at high or moderate risk.
All people at higher risk and their carers are being strongly encouraged to get a flu vaccination this year. See below.
If your child is one of the small number of children that still need to be on the shielded patient list, you need to follow the new advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable. Your child’s doctors will be reviewing, or will have already reviewed, whether they are still at highest risk. If you have not heard you should contact your child’s consultant or GP to be sure. You can read more how doctors are looking at which children are at higher risk from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
The government’s latest general shielding guidance includes advice for parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children. For most people it means stay at home as much as possible until 2 December. You can still go out to exercise and for essential medical appointments, but try to stay away from other people as much as possible and avoid busy areas. Most children and young people can keep going to school, college or childcare. For a few children this will mean staying away from school. You child’s doctor should tell you if this applies to your child. Some children who do not need to stay away from school for their own safety have faced a barrier because they need care that involves aerosol generating procedures but there is now clearer guidance about how schools can accommodate this safely and avoid excluding a child for this reason.
People who are highly vulnerable to coronavirus and their families can still call on NHS volunteer responders if they need extra help to stay safe and well. These volunteers can deliver medicines, shopping and other supplies, as well as making calls to check in on those isolating at home. If someone in your household is in this extremely vulnerable group you can also get local help from your local Community Hub if you have needs that family and friends can’t meet:
People self-isolating with suspected coronavirus symptoms can opt to get regular texts from an NHS 111 online messaging service. This will check how people are and ensure that those who need help to get them through that period, receive it.
Self-isolating has additional challenges if you are a carer, especially for sole-carers. Unpaid carers can request to be tested for COVID-19 if you or another member of your household have symptoms and suspect you have it, so you can find out if you need to self-isolate or not. Find out how to get tested here. Think about writing an emergency plan just in case you are unexpectedly unable to continue caring if you become really ill. Carers UK have good tips about how to do this. And don’t hesitate to ask for help with practical things like shopping whilst you are self-isolating. There are community groups offering neighbourhood help.
See Covid Brighton & Hove, the new directory of local help which includes both longstanding community groups and the new Covid-19 mutual aid groups in the city.
See East Sussex Covid 19 Facebook group or search for your own more locally.
If friends, neighbours or a local community group are not able to give the help you need you can contact the Community Hub to ask for help
- This is a great children’s guide to coronavirus created by the Children’s Commissioner for England
- A social story
- National Autistic Society guides plain text and with widgits
- Easy read guides with widgits from a children’s hospital including one if you need to visit hospital with pictures of masks and eye shields
- A story to read with your child, available in English and 16 other languages
- Makaton films of useful signs and explaining social distancing and free Makaton resources
- BSL information updates
- Also see National Deaf Children’s Society
- Resources suitable for adults with learning disabilities
- Mencap – Easy Read guide to Coronavirus and other easy read resources here
- Coronavirus information in 45 languages
- Mencap’s Easy Read guide to shielding changes from 6th July
Remember, if you or your child has symptoms that suggest it could be coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as you could pass the infection to others. Visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 if you need to speak to someone.
GP-led ‘hot sites’ are set up around Sussex exclusively for any patient with Covid-19 symptoms. You may be directed to one of these by your GP practice or NHS 111.
This year free flu vaccinations are being provided for children, carers, people with learning disabilities and adults with some long-term health and medical conditions. You can read about which adults can have one here and more about flu vaccination for children here. These guides include which long term health conditions make you or your child eligible for vaccination.
This year all children age 2 to 12 can have the vaccine whether or not they have any long term health condition, and for most of them this will be a very simple nasal spray. Primary school children are getting their vaccination at school. Home-schooled children should be invited for vaccination by the local healthcare team. If you do not hear from them, ask your child’s GP. Children under 2 or age 12 to 17 with an eligible long-term health condition, can be vaccinated at their GP surgery. If you son or daughter is over 18 and has a learning disability or eligible long term health condition, they can be vaccinated at the GP surgery or at a pharmacy.
Carers, including parent carers, are eligible for the flu vaccine if you get Carer’s Allowance or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk. You can also get it if you live with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list).
Some people may have to wait a while to get their vaccination. This is partly as supplies of the vaccine arrive over time but also because vaccination clinics have to be run differently to be COVID safe. The local NHS are keen to reassure all those eligible that there is plenty of time for everyone to book and get their flu jab. GP practices and pharmacies are receiving batches of the vaccine and flu vaccination clinics are scheduled accordingly. The most vulnerable will be offered vaccination sooner than others. Overall, there is enough flu vaccine for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated before the flu season starts, which is usually in December.
If you have an appointment bear in mind things will look different as they will be using Covid-19 social distancing and hygiene rules. Treatments may be different depending on the staff and equipment available to the team at the time. The dental team may also be wearing different protective equipment to what you are used to seeing and you will want to prepare your child for this. Emergency treatment is available even if you have Covid-19 symptoms. You will be referred to a treatment centre equipped for this.
As we emerged from the first lockdown, assessments and therapies provided via the Seaside View Child Development Centre began returning to normal. Now we are seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, there will be pressure on all NHS services again. Children’s health services have been told their staff will not be immediately called away to work on the NHS COVID-19 response this time around. Paediatricians, therapists and specialist nurses will continue to work with families by telephone or video call but they have been increasing their face to face appointments. They have carried out environmental risk assessments for Seaside View and other sites to ensure face to face appointments are provided as safely as possible, and therapists are liaising with schools and children’s centres around visiting their sites. They may also visit children in their own homes, following social distancing guidelines. If local risk level increase further the situation may change.
Seaside View are not running face to face workshops or training sessions at the moment, but they are creating training videos which will be added to the SCFT Youtube channel and developing online resources.
They are taking new referrals if these meet the usual referral criteria.
For telephone advice, to respond to urgent queries and provide signposting you can contact Child Development Services using these contact details:
Reception Phone: 01273 265 780 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Paediatrics Phone: 01273 265 780 Email: email@example.com
Occupational Therapy Phone: 01273 265 806 Email: SC-TR.OTSeasideview@nhs.net
Physiotherapy Phone: 01273 265 763 Email: SC-TR.SSVPhysiotherapy@nhs.net
Specialist Nursing Phone: 01273 242 061 Email: SC-TR.SpecialistNursingSSV@nhs.net
Speech and Language Therapy Phone 01273 242 079 Please contact by phone, email contact is not available
Audiology Phone: 01273 242 072 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the latest information latest information on SEN interim arrangements here
School nurses are still able to offer confidential advice and support on a wide range of issues including behaviour, continence, sleep, healthy eating, self-harm, minor accidents and illnesses, and long term health conditions. You can text them on 07480 635423. Young people age 11-19 can also use this number to use the Chathealth service about any concerns or health issues.
As coronavirus cases increase again, NHS services will be under renewed pressure. But for the time being child development and therapy services are unchanged from the position in September and have been told their staff will not be immediately called away to work on the NHS COVID-19 response this time around. East Sussex Therapy One Point (TOP) continues to be the first point of contact for families or professionals with any concerns about a child’s therapy, referrals or assessments. TOP is staffed by therapists from Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm 0300 123 2652 or email@example.com
When the initial lockdown ended, paediatricians and therapists continued with some of the new ways of working they developed during lockdown, such as video consultations and producing short video clips to teach parents and professionals how to deliver therapy programmes and these will be available on their website soon.
They began gradual return to face to face appointments, completing Covid-19 risk assessments for their offices and clinics in Crowborough and Polegate. But the clinic at Ore won’t be available until January 2021, as this was converted into a COVID ‘Hot site’. They are looking for alternative premises.
CITES have also produced a general risk assessment to advise how NHS professionals could work within East Sussex educational settings from September including advice on what face to face contact is appropriate to provide within a nursery/ school or college setting. This advice was sent out to schools and families through the schools daily COVID bulletin, and directly to the families of children that therapists will be visiting in school.
The Scott Unit in Eastbourne has been decommissioned to support the COVID response – a particular challenge as they are currently working with paediatricians to reset the ASD diagnostic pathway for children under 11. It is hoped that face to face ASD diagnostic clinics can start to be provided from Crowborough Memorial Hospital soon.
Urgent orthotic reviews or repairs are still available with John Florence at their clinic in Lewes, until additional COVID secure premises can be identified and reset.
Any East Sussex family with concerns about how safe it is now for their child to go to school can contact TOP for advice and support on 0300 123 2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School Health Service is operating in a different way at the moment. Referrals can be made through the single point of access 0300 123 4062 or email@example.com and phone appointments will be offered where appropriate. Chathealth confidential texting service for young people aged 11-19 is available as normal. Young people can text the school health team about any concerns or health issues on 07507 332473. The number is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Read more about how therapy services have adapted and developed during lockdown in our interview with child development service leads in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove
Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about having an in-person appointment, as they may be able to offer you a video or phone appointment instead.
Health experts are concerned that some people with health issues that need urgent care are not seeking appropriate help. Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: “If your child is unwell the NHS is here for you. If you’re worried, please get in touch with your GP, use NHS 111, or in serious cases come and see us in hospital. Children are unlikely to be unwell with Covid, but they do get sick and when this happens we want to see them.”
During the current coronavirus emergency, if it is necessary for your child to attend a&e, please limit the number of family members/carers who accompany your child to the minimum. Alert the department by telephoning in advance if anyone in your family has recently been unwell. Be aware that they may need to take extra infection control measures which may limit where you can accompany your child in the hospital.
The Royal Alex Children’s Hospital are minimising face to face clinic appointments so do not turn up at the hospital for an outpatient appointment. A clinician will telephone you on the date of your appointment via your given mobile number between 9am – 5pm. They will assess whether it essential for your child to be seen and if so an appointment will be arranged within 2 weeks.
Brighton & Hove
Make sure you have an up to date Hospital Passport or This is Me Care Passport for your child or young person.
Medication and equipment
Check your child’s supply of medication now and, if you are worried about running out, you should call your GP surgery and talk to them. You may be able to get a get a repeat prescription for the period of the crisis if you don’t currently have one set up. If your child would have been due a check before the prescription was next reordered they may override this for now if that is safe.
Patients are being encouraged to apply for repeat prescriptions online or using Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) phone service, if this is available with their GP practice. This will speed up the process for repeat prescriptions to be issued.
Getting prescriptions if you are self-isolating
Community pharmacies are extremely busy at the moment and are unlikely to be able to assist with home delivery if it is not normally something you receive.
If your pharmacy were delivering your medicines at no extra charge because you are shielding, they mostly stopped this service from August, as it was funded as part of the government’s shielding support package, which ended on July 31st. This has not restarted during the November lockdown.
If you have a repeat prescription and are self-isolating, see if someone else is able to pick up the prescription for you. If you are isolating, have them drop it off outside your door so that you can avoid face-to-face contact. If friends and neighbours are not able to give the help you need, you can contact the Community Hub to ask for help:
NHS Volunteer Responders and local community support can help with delivering medicines from pharmacies, but it is best to check with your pharmacy first.
In Brighton & Hove you can now order PPE via the council. This is if it is for direct care such as support with washing and bathing, personal hygiene, contact with bodily fluids or if the person you care for has received a letter from their GP to indicate that they are in a vulnerable group and need to shield, or the household has symptoms of COVID-19.
In East Sussex, the council has information on their website with a couple of options including a form to request an emergency supply from the council.
Well Child, the national charity for sick children is offering help with PPE
Mental health and wellbeing
The return to school or college in September was positive for the mental well being for many children but created worry for others. We wrote a guide about returning to school. Athough the return to school has past it includes useful information about resources to help your child adjust change in this continued period of uncertainty.
Here are a few other key resources. Note that some of these were written early in the pandemic and may have out of date sections, for example about all having to stay indoors:
Children’s guide to coronavirus created by the Children’s Commissioner for England
Covibook is an interactive resource designed to support and reassure children aged 7 and under, for you to work through with your child to explain the emotions that they might be experiencing. Available in several languages.
A video by psychology and therapy services in London about supporting neurodiverse children during self-isolation
Young Minds – Talking to your child about Coronavirus and tips to support family mental wellbeing
The Schools Wellbeing Service is also running virtual workshops for parents on issues like anxiety and sleep, catch up coffee mornings where you can chat and ask questions, and specific Q&A sessions with a primary mental health worker and a nurse. Email them to find out more.
East Sussex: If you are concerned about issues such as anxiety, wellbeing and behaviour you can call the new ISEND Parents and Carers Helpline to get advice from an educational psychologist. Call 01273 481967 and leave a message. ISEND educational psychology service have also written a guide for parents about emotional wellbeing that you can use to help your child manage emotions like anxiety whilst at home.
Young people: Young people (13-25) can use a new e-wellbeing website which launched earlier than planned so it can help during the COVID-19 crisis. It is an accessible guide to the mental health services available to young people in Sussex. It will also help them identify self help resources relevant to how they are feeling at the moment.
14-25 year olds living in East Sussex can access support through i-rock, which offers advice and support on emotional and mental wellbeing, The service continues to offer an 11-6pm provision daily through virtual clinic software, telephone or email. Young people interested in accessing support, whether or not they have used i-rock before, should make an initial enquiry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org More information on i-rock
These are all advice and support services, not crisis lines. If you require immediate support you need to contact your child’s GP, call CAMHS duty care on 0300 3040061 (Brighton & Hove) or the Single Point of Access 01323 464222 (East Sussex). Out of hours call the Sussex Mental Healthline on 0300 500 0101. In a life threatening situation call 999. The advice at the moment is not to go to A&E direct.
All Sussex Partnership Foundation trust (SPFT) services including CAMHS are continuing to run in Brighton & Hove. As much as possible has been moved to telephone or online video consultation. Brighton & Hove CAMHS are running virtual workshops, structured groups and drop- in groups for referred cases. This includes a virtual weekly ASD and ADHD drop in advice and support session for those already referred who are either waiting to be assessed and/or are waiting for input re low mood and or anxiety. Assessments may be delayed.
For mental health emergencies call CAMHS duty care on 0300 3040061 or in a life threatening situation call 999. The advice at the moment is not to go to A&E direct.
East Sussex: All Sussex Partnership Foundation trust (SPFT) services including CAMHS are continuing to run in East Sussex, apart from group-based services which have stopped. As much as possible has been moved to telephone or online video consultation. For more about how Sussex CAMHS is working currently and to find advice for young people
If your child is not already being seen by CAMHS but you think they now need that level of mental health support you need to contact your child’s GP or the Single Point of Access 01323 464222 (East Sussex) who deal with all new referrals to CAMHS in East Sussex.
For mental health emergencies out of hours call the Sussex Mental Healthline on 0300 500 0101. In a life threatening situation call 999. The advice at the moment is not to go to A&E direct.
National bereavement charity Cruse have advice for anyone bereaved at this time, whatever their age.
Locally the Schools Wellbeing Service (Brighton & Hove) or Educational Psychology Service (East Sussex) can offer advice and support. Contact details above.
If you recognise that your own mental health is becoming worrying, you can contact the Sussex Mental Health Line 0300 5000 101. This service is now open 24/7 as a response to the COVID-19 situation and the impact it is having on mental health across the community. It is run by Sussex Partnership Foundation NHS Trust and can give direct support for mental wellbeing and signpost you to other services appropriate for your needs.