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 vaccination and 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
If your child or young person has any issues with communicating you could prepare an NHS “Covid-19 grab and go guide” for them now, to have handy in case you need to use any health services with them during the pandemic.
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.
Check current government advice on who is at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) or moderate risk.
Some people previously on the CEV list will now be in the group offered access to special treatment if they catch Covid. See below.
Coronavirus vaccination has now been offered to all adults (16+) and all 12 to 16 year olds. Anyone who did not take this up at the time can still book even though the national programme has moved on. Vaccination is currently available for 5 to 11 year olds who are at higher risk. See below for information about vaccination, including boosters. Note that the group of children identified as being at risk for the purpose of vaccination is not identical to the old CEV list. Vaccination for other 5 to 11 year olds is expected soon.
Black and minoritised ethnic communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Barnardo’s launched a helpline service for Black, Asian and minority ethnic children, young people and their families impacted by Covid-19. You can find out more about the helpline here.
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.
If someone in your household is in this extremely vulnerable group you can get local help from your local Community Hub if you have needs that family and friends can’t meet:
If this may apply to your child you can read more information and an easy read version of the letter.
If this may apply to your child you can read more information and an easy read version of the letter.
- 1st doses – everyone aged 12 and above and some 5 to 11 year olds
- 2nd doses – everyone aged 12 and above
- Booster vaccines – people in eligible groups at three months from their second dose.
12 to 15 year olds are now being offered a second dose and booster . Vaccination has started for some 5 to 11 year olds “at risk”(see below) . Vaccination for other 5 to 11 year olds is expected to follow but there is no information yet about how or when.
Most people are vaccinated either via their GP practice, often at a site shared by a group of practices or at a mass vaccination centres such as Churchill Square in Brighton or at a local community pharmacy. Plus there are mobile and pop up vaccination services. For people who are in care homes or are housebound there are roving vaccination teams and these may also be able to help if a child or young person has exceptional needs that mean they cannot get vaccinated otherwise. Many 12 to 16 year olds were vaccinated at school, but there are now bookable or walk in vaccination sessions for this group too. Check first. Not all walk in clinics can vaccinate children.
The local NHS in Sussex have set up a dedicated phone line 0800 433 4545 and email address email@example.com The team there are replying to enquiries as quickly as possible but ask people to please check the Frequently Asked Questions before raising a query.
Booster vaccination is well underway now for all adults. You can get a booster once it is three months since your second jab. You can find information on walk in sessions locally on the Sussex Vaccination site.
In March, carers organisations across Sussex including Amaze helped upload carer details to the Local Authorities to allow these carers to be invited for vaccination through the National Booking Service. Other carers were identified through getting Carers Allowance or because they were already registered as a carer with their GP. If you gave Amaze the OK to pass on your details then it is likely that you will have been offered your first jab in late March/April and so your second jab will have been end of June/July and you will have been invited for a booster by now.
If you are caring for someone who is also eligible for a booster now, for example an adult with a learning disability or health condition, you can ask to have your appointments at the same time. Paid carers such as PAs are also eligible for boosters. If they were vaccinated as health and social care workers they should get an invitation.
Carers can get priority at busy vaccination sessions. Show proof of your carer status to “jump the queue”. If you are registered as a carer with Amaze or another of the Sussex carers organisations, you should have been sent a letter you can show for this purpose. Amaze sent this by email on 24 December.
Flu vaccination has been offered this autumn/winter to eligible groups including carers, over 50s and those with underlying health conditions. The advice is to take this up when offered and don’t wait to have the Flu and Covid jabs together. For more about flu vaccination and who can get it, see the flu section on the Sussex Vaccination website.
We are continuing to encourage parent carers to register as a carer. Registering with a local carers’ organisation means you can get information and support when you need it most. You can also be kept up to date with plans for carers’ vaccinations in future.
- Parent carers with children under the age of 25 across Sussex can register with Amaze or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01273 772289
If you care for an adult over 18 you might opt to register with our partners:
- In East Sussex: Care for the Carers/ 01323 738 390 / email@example.com
- In West Sussex: Carers Support West Sussex
- In Brighton & Hove: The Carers Centre for Brighton and Hove. Register via Carers Hub or call 01273 977 000 for more information
Young people and adults with learning disabilities
Young people (age 16 and over) and adults with underlying health conditions or on the Learning Disability Register were prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine in England. They should now have been offered booster vaccination At the moment people are being sent invitations to book an appointment, but you can also use walk in services as long as it is at least three months since their second dose. You can find information on walk in sessions locally on the Sussex Vaccination site.
We continue to recommend that young people with LDs get on the Learning Disability Register with their GP. Read more about how to check whether you are on the the Learning Disability Register or how to join it here. Or you can download this guide to the Learning Disability Register. Amaze has contacted young people on the Compass register who are likely to be eligible to go on the Learning Disability Register with their GP, to remind them of the benefits of doing this and how to go about this.
12 to 17s who are more vulnerable
If your child is age 12 to 17 and is in the group seen to be more clinically vulnerable, you should have had an invitation to book a vaccination for them in the autumn of 2021. The list of which children fall into this group was expanded after this process started so some children were later in getting an invitation. If you think your child is in this group but you have not had an invitation for them contact your GP to ask if they have identified them as being in the vulnerable group or not. The list of which children are in this group is quite long. It includes:
- a severe neurological condition/diagnosis, such as cerebral palsy
- Down syndrome
- severe or multiple learning disabilities (or they’re on the learning disability register)
- a condition that means they’re more likely to get infections (such as some genetic conditions or types of cancer)
The full list is set out on page 21/22 of the “Green Book” which is the place your GP should check to decide.
Children and young people vaccinated as part of this group are eligible for a second dose of vaccine eight to twelve weeks after the first. You should get invited to book this but make a note so if you don’t hear by 12 weeks after the first dose you can follow this up. Boosters will follow for this group.
Some children who are immunosuppressed may not mount a full immune response to two doses of the vaccine and are therefore eligible for a third shot, ideally at least 8 weeks after the second jab.
Other 12 to 17 year olds
Children age 12 to 15 have been offered vaccination in school, but can also book via the National Booking Service. or use some walk in clinics. They are offered a second dose three months after the first. These second doses started in January 2022.
Young people age 16 and 17 can book through the National Booking system or go to a walk in clinic.
5 to 11 year olds who are more vulnerable
Vaccination is now being offered to 5 to 11 year olds at higher risk if they catch Covid as well as those living with an immunosuppressed person. Those eligible are a similar group to those listed above for 12-15 year olds and the details are set out on page 21/22 of the “Green Book” . These children are being offered two doses of paediatric Pfizer (10mcg), 8 weeks apart. GPs and hospitals, including community paediatricians, have been asked to identify those children at risk. Invitations are going out now for you to book for them to come for vaccination at a local vaccination site. Vaccination for these 5 to 11 year olds is only available at these booked appointments because the vaccine dose is different for this group.
If you think your child is in this group but you have not had an invitation for them by mid March contact your GP to ask if they have identified them as being in the vulnerable group or not. If not they should check against the list in the “Green Book” to decide.
For more information, national charity Contact have good FAQs about vaccination and disabled children.
Other 5 to 11 year olds
The government announced in February that vaccination will be offered to all 5 to 11 year olds but there are no details yet about how this will be rolled out. We will update this information when we can.
Quiet or supportive vaccination appointments
Vaccination centres should make reasonable adjustments for anyone who needs this because of a disability or additional need. The government issued advice on this for clinicians. Explain what your child or young adult needs when you book. Some vaccination centres have been offering special sessions that are less busy and more supportive, or especially for 12-15s. Ask about these when you book as they are being set up at intervals. If your child is in the group getting vaccination at school but cannot safely or happily be vaccinated at school due to additional needs, you can book for one of these sessions. Sessions for children invited for vaccination because they are in the “at risk” groups are offering extra flexibility and have staff trained to vaccinate children. In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to arrange vaccination at home or another safe location using the mobile or roving vaccination teams who have been vaccinating people who can’t leave home. They have been able to help some adults with learning disabilities who could not otherwise get vaccinated and have started to do the same for children. It will need to be specially arranged so contact the Vaccine Enquiry Team on 0800 433 4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to reach the roving team in your area.
You might find Mike’s story about getting vaccinated useful to look at with your young person or Audrey’s story for your child. Both are based on the Brighton Racecourse centre but will help you talk through what will happen at any vaccination centre. Or for adults watch this short vaccination video from the Sussex health care – it features a GP and a woman with a learning disability going for her jab.
This is a easy read guide to help with asking for reasonable adjustments.
Self-isolation has additional challenges if you are a carer, especially for sole-carers. 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.
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 guides 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.
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.
Brighton & Hove
Despite increased pressure on the NHS during lockdown three, Child Development Service staff in Brighton & Hove were not called away to work on the NHS Covid-19 response so there has been less of a lasting impact on appintments and waiting times. Paediatricians, therapists and specialist nurses continue to do some work by telephone or video call, but face to face appointments are also being offered now. They have completed environmental risk assessments for Seaside View and other operational sites to ensure face to face appointments are provided as safely as possible, and therapists are liaising with schools and children’s centres around delivering services safely on their sites.
Seaside View are still running workshops and training sessions but these are being run on digital platforms. They are also creating training videos which will be added to the SCFT Youtube channel and developing online resources.
The Child Development Service team is 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: email@example.com
Community Paediatrics Phone: 01273 265 780 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
Read the latest information latest information on SEN interim arrangements here
The Schools Wellbeing Service has a consultation line for parent carers who may be concerned about emotional wellbeing and mental health issues. You can email your enquiry to SWSConsultationLine@brighton-hove.gov.uk or call 01273 293 481. Leave your contact details and a Primary Mental Health Worker will call you back.
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.
Despite significant pressure on hospitals and rehabilitation services, CITES services stayed fully open during the third lockdown, and now cases have dropped services are returning to normal.
East Sussex Therapy One Point (TOP) is 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. Contact 0300 123 2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Paediatricians and therapists continue to use some of the new ways of working they developed during the first 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. Where virtual support is not clinically effective or suitable, they will look at alternative Covid-safe face-to-face provision. Risk assessments and adjustments have been carried out at all their sites and therapists have access to a well stocked supply of PPE to ensure face-to-face service provision meets Covid-secure criteria.
All CITES staff are also now tested for Covid-19 twice weekly (Lateral Flow test kits) – this includes engineers at AJ Mobility employed to deliver specialist equipment and carry out equipment repairs, and orthotists working in the Orthotic clinics employed by John Florence Limited.
CITES continues to deliver therapy support in local special schools as part of a child’s EHC plan, if this is necessary and permitted. Where therapists cannot visit an education setting, CITES is supporting teaching staff and families to provide therapy provision in line with the child’s care plan. If home visiting is required to ensure a child’s clinical needs are met, this will be arranged. Any temporary alternative provision, in response to schools being closed, will be fully discussed and jointly agreed with families, carers and teaching staff.
If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable, CITES will look to support them through a mix of virtual and home visiting, with suitable alternative provision discussed and agreed directly with you.
If you have issues relating to your child’s specific care plan, or are struggling to meet your child’s additional needs whilst home schooling, please contact TOP for advice and support on 0300 123 2652 or email@example.com.
CITES are on course to have caught up with all outstanding diagnostic assessments for autistic spectrum condition (ASC) and developmental coordination disorder (DCD), where a face to face assessment appointment was needed. The ASC diagnostic assessments are being held at Grove House Hospital in Crowborough and at the Chaucer Clinic in Polegate. They have a new clinic space at Station Plaza, Hastings (right next door to the train station) and appointments for DCD assessments are now also being offered at this venue. If you are concerned regarding an outstanding DCD assessment, contact Therapy One Point. ASC assessments are managed through the Community Paediatricians at the Scott Unit.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.”
Whilst coronavirus is still active locally we are being asked to limit the number of family members/carers who come with a child to A&E. Be aware that they may need to take extra infection control measures which may limit where you can accompany your child in the hospital.
Make sure you have an up to date Hospital Passport or This is Me Care Passport for your child or young person. You could also prepare an NHS Covid-19 grab and go guide for them to be ready in case they need health services during the pandemic.
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
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 you have a repeat prescription and are self-isolating, see if someone else is able to pick up the prescription for you. 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. There is a small grant scheme to help with the cost of PPE for PAs. Details of this are on the information page for people receiving direct payments.
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. Now we have had another period of school closure and then return you may still find this guide useful for information about resources to help your child adjust to 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 speak to your school first. The ISEND helpline for parent carers of children with SEND run by educational psychologists reopened on 18 January in response to the new lockdown. Any parent of a child or young person with SEND can call the ISEND telephone number 01273 481967 at any time and leave a message saying that you would like to talk to an EP. Your child does not need to have an EHCP. The educational psychology service have 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 email@example.com 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.