COVID-19: How to stay safe and self-isolate with a vulnerable person

Covid-19 is dominating headlines at the moment — and for good reason. For the UK to combat this virus and return to normal, first we’ve got to abide by the rules put in place to protect us and self-isolate. Many steps were initially taken, such as Starbucks banning reusable cups and enforcing the use of paper coffee cups to minimise the spread of germs.

Self-isolation might not be as easy for families where at least one member is considered an essential worker or doesn’t have the ability to work from home, which could put the rest of the family at risk. For example, one in four NHS doctors are off sick or are isolating. This can be a concern to workers and families if someone is particularly vulnerable. Vulnerable groups are those; aged 70 and over, with underlying health conditions, cancer patients, organ transplant patients, with respiratory conditions, receiving drug treatments which affect the immune system, being severely overweight, and pregnant women.

With heightened concerns over health due to Covid-19, here, we’ll discuss how to self-isolate and avoid spreading potential germs around your house. This guide will include how to cook after everyone else, using a separate bathroom if possible, and what to do when bored.

What is self-isolation?

Make sure you’re aware of what you can and can’t do to limit your personal movement and spreading the virus. Particularly if you’re displaying symptoms such as a new continuous cough or a high temperature, in which case you shouldn’t leave your house whatsoever. Have someone you know drop off supplies and essentials at your doorstep, with zero physical contact and standing at least two metres apart.

You must stay at home apart from the following reasons:

  • One form of exercise a day, either alone or with your household.

  • To go shopping for essentials, although as little as possible.

  • For medical attention.

  • To provide care for a vulnerable person.

  • To travel to and from work, only when absolutely necessary.

So, how can you stay safe in the house?

How to self-isolate if you live with someone who is vulnerable

We understand that many households will struggle to separate entirely due to space and limited availability of resources. However, try your best to follow this guide. Firstly, follow NHS advice on how to effectively wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and avoid touching your face.

Don’t spend any time with family members who are particularly vulnerable and try to keep rooms well ventilated. Avoid being in the same room and sleep in separate beds where possible or keep at least two metres apart when it is unavoidable.

If you have more than one bathroom, designate one to the vulnerable individual only. If bathrooms and toilets are shared, make sure you clean the toilet after each use, including wiping down the surfaces, particularly where you’ve come into contact. Have the vulnerable individual use the facilities and bathe before everyone else in the house, as well as having a separate set of towels, including for drying hands.

Allow the vulnerable individual to cook first and wait until they’ve finished before entering the kitchen. If they can, get them to eat their meals in their room alone. Use separate utensils for the vulnerable person and allow them to dry separately. If sharing, wash with washing up liquid and warm water and dry thoroughly. If you have a dishwasher, use it. Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly, such as kitchen tops, door handles, and the toilet handle or button.

How to keep mentally healthy

Not only must we keep our bodies healthy, but our minds too. Often, some of us neglect our mental health, and slipping into unproductive and lethargic routines can become all too easy when we must remain in the house for a period of time.

  • Make sure you take advantage of the one exercise a day and go on walks alone or with someone you live with. If you’re working from home and are finding it difficult to switch off, going for a walk when you’ve finished work is a good way to reset. If you’re still feeling sluggish after your exercise, download some home workout apps on your phone or look on YouTube for fitness videos.

  • Try not to trawl social media for hours — this can make you feel worse. Use it to communicate and socialise but avoid scrolling through your feed for hours as this is bound to make you think negatively.

  • Try to video call at least one person a day. If you have a large group of friends, download the app Zoom for video calls with large groups of people.

  • Find a new series to watch or a new book to read, if you’ve always wanted to watch The Sopranos but could never find the time, or if you loved the idea of reading the Game of Thrones series but thought it would take too long, now’s your chance!

  • Find some free online training courses to enhance your work performance and qualifications. For example, Google Digital Garage is great for learning in-demand skills.

  • Do things you enjoy, even if it seems pointless, like maintaining your physical appearance. Paint your nails, apply face masks, or box dye your hair. Just because we’re not leaving the house doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make ourselves feel good!

  • Practice meditation and yoga to give your mind a rest from all the craziness. There’s a plethora of apps and YouTube videos for guidance.