Publication - Research and analysis

Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding survey report - January 2021

Published: 22 Feb 2021

Publication of results from a survey conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 which explored areas such as: the impact of services and support provided by the Scottish Government's Shielding Division, thoughts on vaccination, and how pausing shielding in Scotland has impacted different aspects of life.

45 page PDF

2.7 MB

45 page PDF

2.7 MB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding survey report - January 2021
Service Feedback

45 page PDF

2.7 MB

Service Feedback

Despite shielding being paused in July 2020, the Shielding division has continued to provide a number of services to support people on the shielding list. The survey explored how respondents felt about each of the services provided and assessed how helpful they thought they were, as well as reasons why offers had or had not been taken up.

The feedback on these services is largely positive, with respondents largely finding the support they receive from each service either very or somewhat helpful.

People have been contacting their local authority and third sector organisations for support with access to food, medication and emotional support. It is unclear whether access to food is about trying to be put on a priority shopping list or needing support to get food for financial or geographic (deliveries not available in their area) reasons.

Text messaging alert service

96% of respondents had registered with the shielding text messaging alert service. Of those who had registered, 92% found it either very or somewhat helpful.

Of the small number of people (n181) who had not signed up to this service, the top reason given for why was because they didn’t know about it (37%).

Respondents signed up to text messaging alert service

Yes 96%
No 4%
Response count 4140

Helpfulness of the text messaging alert service

Chart showing responses to questions asking how helpful the shielding text message alert service is.
Very helpful 66%
Somewhat helpful 26%
Neither helpful or unhelpful 6%
Somewhat unhelpful 1%
Very unhelpful 1%
Response count 3944

Reasons why people had not signed up for text messages

I didn’t know about it 37%
I didn’t think it would be helpful for me 25%
I don’t have access to a mobile phone 16%
Something else 24%
Response count 181

For the 24% of respondents who answered ‘something else’ the most common reasons provided were:

  • People had struggled to register with the service for a number of different reasons
  • Poor phone reception in their homes
  • Incompatible devices for the service

People felt they were able to get the information they needed from other sources

Local Authority support

12% of respondents had asked their local authority for support since July 2020. Of those who had received support (n753), 64% found this either very or somewhat helpful.

The main reasons why people contacted their local authority for support were: help with access to food (62%) and medication (38%).

Respondents who asked their local authority for support

Yes 12%
No 88%
Response count 4139

What support people were asking for from their local authority

Chart showing what types of support respondents were approaching their local authority for.
Help with access to food 62%
Help with access to medication 38%
Something else 16%
Access to social work services 10%
Emotional support 9%
Information or advice about the restrictions in my local area 9%
Contact with local volunteer groups 8%
Help to understand the shielding guidance 8%
Response count 495

Percentages do not add up to 100 as respondents could select multiple options.

For the 16% of respondents who answered ‘something else’ the most common reasons provided were:

  • Ensuring they were added to the priority shopping list for supermarkets
  • Access to PPE
  • Financial support
  • Employment support, particularly for those feeling unsafe at work
  • Support with physical needs such as personal care and physiotherapy

Helpfulness of local authority support

Chart showing responses to the question asking how helpful local authority support has been for people advised to shield.
Very helpful 44%
Somewhat helpful 20%
Neither helpful or unhelpful 25%
Somewhat unhelpful 3%
Very unhelpful 8%
Response count 753

Third sector support

8% of respondents had asked a third sector organisation for support since July 2020. Of those who had received support (n543), 58% found it either very or somewhat helpful.

The main reasons why people contacted a third sector organisation for support were: emotional support (37%), help with access to food (34%) and help with access to medication (33%).

Respondents who asked a third sector organisation for support

Yes 8%
No 92%
Response count 4133

What support people were asking for from third sector organisations

Chart showing what types of support respondents were approaching third sector organisations for.
Emotional support 37%
Help with access to food 34%
Help with access to medication 33%
Something else 28%
Access to social work services or other counselling services 11%
Help to understand the shielding guidance 10%
Information or advice about the restrictions in my local area 6%
Response count 315

Percentages do not add up to 100 as respondents could select multiple options.

For the 28% of respondents who answered ‘something else’ the most common reasons provided were:

  • Advice or support specific to the person’s medical condition, for example advice on whether they are able to take the vaccine based on their condition
  • Financial support due to being unable to work while shielding
  • Support with poor or deteriorating mental health

Helpfulness of third sector organisation support

Chart showing responses to the question asking how helpful third sector organisation support has been for people advised to shield.
Very helpful 42%
Somewhat helpful 16%
Neither helpful or unhelpful 37%
Somewhat unhelpful 2%
Very unhelpful 3%
Response count 543

Priority supermarket shopping

59% of survey participants had used the priority supermarket shopping service to get online deliveries. Of those who had used the service (n2448), 92% found it either very or somewhat helpful.

Respondents signed up for priority supermarket shopping

Yes 59%
No 41%
Response count 4146

Helpfulness of priority supermarket shopping service

Chart showing responses to the question asking how helpful the priority supermarket shopping service has been for people advised to shield.
Very helpful 72%
Somewhat helpful 20%
Neither helpful or unhelpful 4%
Somewhat unhelpful 3%
Very unhelpful 2%
Response count 2448

Free supply of Vitamin D

94% of participants were aware of the offer of a free supply of Vitamin D, with 79% choosing to take up the offer.

Of those who chose to take up the offer (n3044), the main reasons provided were: to support health and wellbeing (77%), they had been inside a lot (67%) and the Scottish Government guidance advising to take Vitamin D (65%).

Respondents who were aware of the Vitamin D offer

Yes 94%
No 6%
Response count 4136

Respondents who took up the free supply of Vitamin D

Yes 79%
No 21%
Response count 3882

Why respondents took up the Vitamin D offer

Chart showing the reasons why some respondents chose to take up the offer of a free prescription of Vitamin D.
To support my health and wellbeing 77%
I have been inside a lot 67%
Scottish Government guidance says that everyone should consider taking Vitamin D 65%
The information provided helped me to decide 27%
I read somewhere that it protects against COVID 16%
It was free 13%
Something else 6%
Response count 3044

Percentages do not add up to 100 as respondents could select multiple options.

Why respondents didn’t take up the Vitamin D offer

Chart showing the reasons why some respondents did not take up the offer of a free prescription of Vitamin D.
Something else 40%
I already buy Vitamin D for myself/the person I care for and didn’t need the supply 35%
I take other medication/have a medical condition which means I cannot take Vitamin D 13%
I have been able to get outside safely so I feel I have topped up my Vitamin D levels 9%
I don’t think I need it 7%
I didn’t have enough information to help me make an informed decision 2%
I tried to access the offer, but had difficulties signing up 2%
I don’t understand the benefits of taking Vitamin D 1%
I didn’t understand the information provided 0%
I would like to take the offer up, but I don’t have access to a landline or mobile phone 0%
Response count 833

Percentages do not add up to 100 as respondents could select multiple options.

Of those who did not take up the offer (n833), many respondents picked ‘something else’ (40%). Analysis of the open text responses highlighted that people wanted to explain that they were already prescribed Vitamin D.

Workplace risk assessments

29% of survey participants had returned to their workplace since July 2020. 66% of respondents returning to the workplace (n1200) carried out an individual workplace risk assessment using the COVID-age calculator and discussed this with their employer.

Of those who had used the workplace risk assessment tool, 62% found it either very or somewhat helpful. However, despite using the risk assessment tool, 55% of respondents still did not feel safe about returning to work.

Returned to the workplace since July 2020

Yes 29%
No 16%
Not relevant to me 55%
Response count 4140

Workplace risk assessment using COVID-age calculator with employer

Yes 66%
No 30%
Not relevant to me 4%
Response count 1299

Helpfulness of workplace risk assessment tool (COVID-age calculator)

Chart showing responses to the question asking how helpful the workplace risk assessment tool (COVID-age calculator) has been.
Very helpful 27%
Somewhat helpful 35%
Neither helpful or unhelpful 15%
Somewhat unhelpful 10%
Very unhelpful 12%
Response count 791

Feeling safe returning to work after workplace risk assessment

Yes 45%
No 55%
Response count 790

Level 4 fit note

13% of people who had returned to work used the Level 4 fit note to be absent from work. Of the people who tried to use the fit note (n150), 25% were still required to go to work.

Use of Chief Medical Officer fit note to be absent from work

Yes 13%
No 49%
Not applicable to me 38%
Response count 1197

Employer acceptance of fit note to be absent from work

Yes 75%
No 25%
Response count 150

Gaps in support and access

Survey respondents were asked whether there was anything they were struggling to access at the moment to try and identify where more or additional support could be provided.

The majority were struggling with challenges that are not easily addressed by government support, such as: the chance to meet friends and family (59%) and enjoyable day-to-day activities (44%). However, there are still people struggling with access to healthcare appointments (23%) which has been identified in previous research with this group.

Many of the comments in the open text responses (8% of people selecting ‘something else’) were aligned with existing categories such as healthcare appointments and exercise, but people wanted to provide more specific information about the types of appointment they are missing out on. A number of responses (especially from key workers) highlighted challenges with returning to work once shielding had paused, feeling unsafe and unsupported by their employers, and looking for some kind of workplace support.

What people are struggling to access at the moment

Chart showing responses to what people feel they are struggling to access at the time of the survey.
The chance to meet friends and family 59%
Enjoyable day-to-day activities 44%
Exercise 26%
Healthcare appointments 23%
None of the above 21%
Food 8%
Something else 8%
My medication 6%
Welfare benefits 4%
Other day to day items (e.g. soap or sanitary items) 3%
Response count 4047

Percentages do not add up to 100 as respondents could select multiple options.


Contact

Email: shielding.research@gov.scot