Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for unpaid carers

Guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family.

20 Apr 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for unpaid carers

Information for carers

Anyone providing regular support to a vulnerable friend or relative should be aware of protecting their own health, and the health of those they look after, during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

  • like everyone, unpaid carers (including young carers) and people being cared for should follow public health advice on how to protect themselves from infection
  • as the situation is changing quickly, the guidance may also change, so carers should check regularly to make sure that they are following the latest guidance on coronavirus on the NHS inform websiteHere you can find advice on coronavirus symptoms, precautions to take, and what to do if you think you may have become ill with coronavirus
  • carers who do not already have an emergency plan in place may also want to talk with family and friends about who could take over their caring role if they become ill or need to self-isolate – particularly while social work services are under additional pressure during the coronavirus outbreak
  • it will also be important to make sure that you have key information about the person you care for easily available - so that anyone taking over their care has all the information they need
  • if carers and family and friends are unable to provide essential care for someone, they should contact their local social work department

See the social work department contact details.

Local carer centres and young carer services

In reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, local carer centres and young carer services have had to make adjustments to the way that they conduct their business. This has had an effect on the support that they can offer.

Although they are currently unable to provide face to face support, most are offering alternative forms of support online or over the phone. You may be able to find the information or advice you are looking for on their website.

You can find details of your local carer centre on Care Information Scotland’s website

Short Breaks Fund

The Short Breaks Fund complements any support provided by local authorities and statutory agencies. Shared Care Scotland and Family Fund administer the fund.

  • the team at Shared Care Scotland are continuing to deliver the fund. They can be contacted on 01383 622462 or by email
  • to help you find suitable short breaks at this time, they have created information on a range of alternative short breaks that can be accessed from home, including phone support services, online forums, online subscriptions and distance learning. These are available via their website and social media channels across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • if you require help with funding any of these alternative short break options, your local Time to Live partner may be able to assist. The Scottish Government has provided additional funding to the Time to Live fund to support all carers, including parent carers during COVID-19 outbreak. Find out who delivers Time to Live in your area 
  • Family Fund supports low income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. They can provide grants for essential items such as kitchen appliances, clothing, bedding, sensory toys, computers and much more.
  • if you require extra financial support at present the fund is still open for applications. Carers who have applied before can apply online and new applicants can download an application form from their website. For further assistance please contact their telephone helpline: 01904 550055.
  • Family Fund’s Take a Break Fund also supports families / carers of disabled children and young people to take a short break. Currently they are planning to open the fund for applications on May 18th 2020, with grants ready to be distributed in late June/early July. Keep checking their website for updates and instructions about how to apply.
  • other support for parent carers can be found on this website and via parent club

Young carers

  • the Young Scot young carer package provides a range of tailored leisure and learning opportunities for all young carers aged 11-18 and is accessed through the Young Scot card
  • unfortunately, at this time Young Scot cannot issue new or replacement cards. However if you already have a Young Scot card you can sign up for the Young Carer package on their website
  • Young Scot is continually reviewing the opportunities in the young carers package with particular focus given to the inclusion of activities which can be carried out whilst physical distancing or self-isolating
  • Young Scot has also been working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure they are providing the most up to date information for young people on COVID-19  and the school closures
  • Young carers who are eligible for the young carer grant can still apply, and like other benefits for carers, some rules have been relaxed - see below

Social Security – benefits for carers

We have relaxed some of the rules for carers benefits at this time in recognition that some carers will not be able to undertake the same caring responsibilities as they normally would.

Physical distancing

Everyone will be aware of the new rules on physical distancing in Scotland to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Unpaid carers will want to know that the list of ‘reasonable excuses’ for going out includes any medical need or to ‘provide care or to help a vulnerable person’.  People can also leave the house for basic necessities, such as food and medicine although trips must be as infrequent as possible.

This means that unpaid carers can continue to care for vulnerable friends or relatives during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak but should remember to follow the wider physical distancing and public health advice on hand hygiene, etc. to protect their own health, and the health of those they look after.

Unpaid carers and shielding

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically at high risk from the coronavirus, by supporting them to self-isolate to minimise all interaction with others. The Scottish Government advice on this now includes advice for unpaid carers and family members of people who have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer. Read the latest advice.

There is also a helpline - 0800 111 4000 – for other people who are at higher risk and needing help to access local support. Find out further information on the helpline, who it is for, and other sources of support. 

Mental health and wellbeing

It is perfectly normal to feel worried during exceptional and frightening times such as this. However, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, your GP or a helpline such as NHS24 (shortcode 111) or Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87).

  • The Mental Health Foundation provide generic advice including information on e.g. staying connected with family and friends; being active; tips on stress management and on keeping a daily routine
  • for children and young people, Young Scot has published an online resource containing advice, and also links to other help and support
  • for those suffering with an eating disorder, find support and advice 
  • for those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), find tips on how to keep well 
  • people with autism or carers of people with autism can contact Scottish Autism who provide advice via email and a call-back service

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Advice for unpaid carers who visit or live with a friend or family member to provide help with personal care such as washing or dressing:

  • general advice for all unpaid carers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • advice for carers who live in the same household as the person they care for
  • advice for carers who do not live in the same household as the person they care for
  • where to get PPE