12-01-2021 Coronavirus Guidance and news
The last year has been hugely challenging for everyone and especially so for parents and carers of children with additional needs.
Below we have pulled together some key sources of information relating to the impact of Covid 19 and suggested some additional points that you may want to think about.
At the moment most mainstream schools are closed to children except the children of critical workers, and children classed as 'vulnerable', who should be offered a place at school if they want one - see the government guidance here and additional information from Contact here. The definition of vulnerable includes children with EHCPs and also those on SEN support. Special schools have been asked to remain open during this period (although we are aware that staffing issues are currently preventing this from happening in some cases). Attendance at school is not compulsory for any children and there will be no penalties if you chose to keep your child at home- it is up to parents to discuss with the school and what will be in the child's best interests. Please talk to your child's school about your child's return to school and/or your decision to keep them at home. Schools should supply remote learning for any children who are at home. The Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford has issued an open letter (dated 14th Jan 2021) setting out the position which you can read here and there is detailed guidance for special schools and colleges and alternative provisions here.
There is a requirement for most people to wear face-coverings in shops as well as on public transport - see government guidance here. However, there are exemptions to these rules including for children under 11, and those children and adults who are unable to wear a face-covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability, or if doing so will cause you severe distress, or if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading - see the government guidance here. We are aware that some supermarkets and other shops are trying to take a harder line on this, so you may find it useful to carry a card explaining why you or your child cannot wear a mask (although there is no requirement for you to do so and it is a matter of personal choice). There are some versions here that you can download for use, as well as an easy-read explanation of the guidance that might be useful e.g. when explaining the situation to a child or a young person with learning difficulties, or you can use the versions provided on the government website here.
The Local Authority has added a 'guidance for parents and carers' section to its 'Enfield's response to Coronavirus' information, including guidance on how to support your child and talk to them about what is happening.
Whilst Coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child becomes ill during this period it is likely that it will be a non-coronavirus illness. Whilst it is important to follow the government stay-at-home advice, it can be confusing to know what to do if your child is ill or injured. See here for a useful summary.
Contact, the Charity for families of disabled children have put together some useful advice for parents and carers which you can access via their website here. The Council for Disabled Children also has a useful page summarising the key sources of information here.
If you think you need support e.g. with picking up shopping, prescriptions or medicine whilst you are self-isolating, or you are in financial hardship please complete the Community Support request form here (local link) and you can also register here if you or your child/family member/person you care for at home has a condition that makes you/them especially vulnerable. If you are not sure whether your/their medical condition makes you/them especially vulnerable, please register anyway.
Please continue to share your concerns and experiences with us so that we can feed them back to the government and Local Authority as appropriate.
NHS Guidance on Coronavirus can be found here.
The Healthwatch website has useful advice on the current position in the local area (and more broadly) including visiting restrictions in local hospitals and guidance on how to self-isolate.
Talking to your child about Coronavirus - see our separate news page here for useful links and resources.
Other Guidance available:
National Autistic society guidance and helpline for parents, young people and staff
See also this guidance in British Sign Language.
Amaze have produced a set of useful FAQs relating to children with SEND - although this aimed at the families of children in Brighton and Hove, much of it is applicable to children in the Borough of Enfield.
Going to Hospital
In general, visiting someone in hospital is currently suspended. There are a small number of exceptions, when one visitor per patient may be allowed, which include a parent or appropriate adult visiting their child, or supporting someone with a mental health condition such as a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed. You should contact the ward in advance to discuss arrangements. See here for more information and check the website of the hospital you are planning to visit - e.g. Barnet hospital and Chase Farm Hospital here and North Middx here.
Going to the Doctors
Many GP surgeries are restricting or ceasing face-to-face appointments so it is recommended that you ring your surgery to discuss any issues.
Enfield Carers' Centre
Enfield Carers' Centre is currently closed for face-to-face visits, but you can still receive advice by phone and support groups will continue to run using teleconferencing facilities. More information can be found here.
Staying at home (self-isolation)
Government advice on what to do if you need to stay at home - overview here.
More detailed guidance here.
Preparing to stay at home
You may find it useful to make some additional preparations in case you find you need to self-isolate at home and/or you or your child become ill.
- If your child has ongoing medication consider asking your GP/pharmacy for an additional supply of any repeat prescription to cover for a month or two.
- If your child uses nappies or incontinence pads, you should look at whether you can obtain a supply to last for a longer period.
- If you don't have a medical plan at home, ensure that your child's latest prescription is ready.
- Look at options for getting prescriptions delivered to your home.
- Look at what options you might have for childcare if you or your regular carers get sick or need to self-isolate (e.g. if you normally rely on your child's grandparents for care).
Instructions for alternative carers
If you are normally the primary carer for your child, it is important to make sure that your alternative care (i.e. partner, family or friends) know in advance any special arrangements for looking after your child if you get sick (and/or have written instructions ready) - you may not be up to explaining all the details if you are ill.
- If your child has regular medication you could include details of when and how to give this medication. A useful template which you can adapt as required is available here, covering medication, allergies and other care (e.g. feeding, assistance with toileting etc).
- If your child has an EHCP, ensure that your section A is to hand to help others know about your child and how to support if you're unwell.
- If you don't have a section A, you could use a communication passport or hospital passport to help staff know your child's likes and dislikes. See the template here.
- You could complete a medication plan to help people know what medications your child is on. See the template here which you can adapt as required.