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.
Rapid lateral flow device tests (LFT) or symptom-free tests are now being used now in schools and care homes, and being made available to all of us to use at home or at work. They are less reliable than a PCR but give quick results and are designed to be used to pick up cases where a person does not have any symptoms and so is not aware that they have coronavirus. They are useful if you think you or child has been exposed to the virus but you do not have symptoms. If you/your child have symptoms you must book a PCR test via the online booking service or by calling 119. You must not rely on a LFT test from school or in a care home or that you do at home. Rapid lateral flow tests are more of a checking measure for people who may be exposed to getting infected. You can get LFTs to use at home from pharmacies, some test centres or online.
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.
Coronavirus vaccination has now been offered to all adults (16+) including those who are at higher risk. Anyone who did not take this up at the time can still book even though the national programme has moved on. Vaccination is now rolling out to some children age 12 to 15 seen as being at greatest risk or who live with someone who is extremely vulnerable. See below.
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.
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:
Most people are vaccinated either via their GP practice, often at a site shared by a group of practices or at one of three mass vaccination centres for Sussex at the Brighton Centre (moving to Churchill Square on 30 August), the Hampden Retail Park in Eastbourne and at Crawley Hospital. For people who are in care homes or are housebound there are roving vaccination teams. Plus there are mobile and pop up vaccination services.
If you have had one dose and are waiting for your second you might be wondering if you can get this sooner than the 12 weeks originally planned. Local vaccinations centres are following the national policy of keeping a minimum of 8 weeks between the first and second dose.
The NHS information page about coronavirus vaccination should be the most frequently updated source of information, but for more local information there is a Sussex NHS vaccination FAQs page. You can read the advice the government is using, and an explanation about the order of groups to be offered vaccination.
The NHS have set up a dedicated email address to direct questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
After national and local pressure by carer’s organisations, unpaid carers were offered priority vaccination if they were registered as carers. Now plans are underway for booster vaccination. This will be first offered to priority groups and then to all over 50s. We are trying to clarify where unpaid carers will fit in the priority lists this time and will update this information when we can. But it is likely that lists of registered carers will again be used so we are continuing to encourage parent carers to register. 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 any booster programme.
- Parent carers with children under the age of 25 across Sussex can register with Amaze or you can contact us at email@example.com 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 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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
After successful interventions from public figures like Jo Wiley, all young people (age 16 and over) and adults on the Learning Disability Register were prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine in England. They should have received an invitation from their local GP Practice for their Covid-19 vaccination. Now the NHS are planning the programme for booster vaccination they are likely to use GP’s Learning Disability Registers again so it continues to be important to make sure young people with LDs get on this 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.
Some disabled young people need reasonable adjustments in order to be able to have the vaccination, for example they may be unable to queue or need help with a needle phobia. Amaze and the parent carer forums worked with local health teams, to highlight the need for reasonable adjustments for people with learning disabilities when attending vaccination centres. And the government issued advice on this for clinicians. As part of this process, our local community disability teams have amended their reasonable adjustments document to include Covid vaccine information. Download the Covid Vaccination & Reasonable Adjustments easy read form here to take with you to your GP or vaccine centre. Some “quiet” vaccination sessions are being offered so ask about these if it will help your young person.
Mencap have easy read information about vaccination which you can find on their coronavirus information page.
Young people who are nervous about getting their Covid-19 vaccination may like to 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.
Younger adults and children
From 23 August new groups of children and young people are being offered vaccination with the aim of getting first doses done before the start of the school term in early September. The most up to date information on this should be on the Sussex Vaccination Programme webpage. We have pulled out what parents need to know and will update this as more information becomes available.
All 16 and 17 year olds are now included in the national vaccination programme. 16 and 17 year olds with underlying health conditions which put them at risk of serious Covid-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable) should have already been offered the Pfizer vaccine (two doses), but now all other young people this age (with or without additional needs) have now be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Invitations were sent out by letter and text. Walk in appointments areavailable too and you can check here for sessions in your part of Sussex. If you are 16 and 17 you cannot currently book your appointment on the national booking system or by calling 119.
Also from 23 August the most clinically vulnerable 12 to 15 year olds were invited for vaccination. Children under 16 are seen as being at the very lowest risk of getting seriously ill, even if they are disabled or have health conditions but on July 19 the government announced that based on scientific advice, vaccination should be offered to 12 to 15 year olds with severe neurodisabilities, Down syndrome, immunosuppression, profound and multiple or severe learning disabilities, or those who are on the Learning Disability Register (see above). This is not exactly the same set of children as were originally identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable earlier in the pandemic because scientific advice on this has changed. These children will be offered two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, eight to twelve weeks apart.
Children and young people aged 12 to 15 who live with an immunosuppressed person (adult or child) were also offered vaccination.
Rising 12 and 16 year olds will be invited as they reach their birthdays.
From 23 August 12 to 15 year olds in the eligible groups should have had their vaccine invitation from the local vaccination service or their GP, so you can book an appointment for them, including requesting appropriate arrangements for their particular needs. There is guidance for vaccination teams about the sort of reasonable adjustments they should offer. These were written with adults in mind but the principles are the same. Local teams are getting training about vaccinating children and Amaze (together with PaCC and ESPCF) has produced a tip sheet for vaccination centre staff that you can print or download to a phone to take with you to your appointment.
The Sussex Vaccination Team said getting invitations out for 12 to 15 year olds would take a few days, but eligible children should have been invited by now. If you are sure that your child is in the group that should be invited and you have not had an invitation you may want to check with your GP that they have included your child in the vaccination list. There may be some children who are missed because their GP does not have the right information about them on record. There is a dedicated Sussex CCG email address for vaccination queries: email@example.com and phone line 0800 433 4545 which you can use if you have a specific question, rather than contact your GP.
On 3 September the scientific advice changed again and it has now been recommended that 12 to 15 year olds with a number of other conditions should also be offered vaccination. As with the first round of 12 to 15 year olds GPs will have to identify children from their records so that they can be invited to book. We will update this information as soon as we know more about when you can expect to hear. In the meantime, if you feel that there are good medical reasons why your 12 to 15 year old should be vaccinated even though they may not fit exactly in the group that has been identified so far, you could approach your child’s GP and ask them to use their clinical discretion to consider this. In a recent letter from the NHS to GPs and primary care networks (PCNS) it says that any approach by parents should be considered and clinical judgement used around eligibility. If you have a paediatrician or specialist who will be more familiar with your child’s medical needs, you could approach them and ask if they will make a recommendation to your GP.
The new extended list of which 12 to 15 year olds should be offered vaccination includes congenital heart disease, chronic respiratory conditions (including poorly controlled asthma), diabetes type 1, autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, blood cancers, sickle cell anaemia, chronic liver, kidney and digestive conditions, endocrine disorders and some genetic abnormalities that affect bodily health. You can find a full list in the government press release. These children should be offered two doses of Pfizer vaccine eight to twelve weeks apart.
On 13 September the government announced that all 12 to 15 year olds would be offered vaccination. This will start in late September and continue through to half term. These children will get a single dose of Pfizer vaccine and it will be delivered at school like other mass vaccination programmes for school age children. Children who are not currently attending school or who are home educated should also be offered vaccination. We will add information about this as it becomes available. There will be a possibility of a second dose in the spring school term or later.
There is still no vaccination approved for children under 12.
For more information, national charity Contact have good FAQs about vaccination and disabled children.
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 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 this time around. Paediatricians, therapists and specialist nurses will continue to work with families by telephone or video call, though some face to face appointments will also take place, where essential. 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. They may also visit children in their own homes, following social distancing guidelines. Most services are being delivered remotely, but now infection rates have dropped this will be reviewed.
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: 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
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 they will review how services are offered.
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 email@example.com
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) and vaccination of staff has commenced – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the end of February, 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 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.
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.
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 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. 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.
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. 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 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.