Useful Coronavirus information

We’ve put all of the latest useful information on Coronavirus and people with sight loss in one place so you can find what you’re looking for quickly.

Government guidelines on Coronavirus…

You can find the latest NHS health advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19) by clicking here
You can find the latest from Welsh Government on Coronavirus by clicking here
You can find information on the firebreak lockdown restrictions by clicking here

Other sources of information on Coronavirus

For frequently asked questions for people with sight loss, their family and friends relating to COVID-19 click here
Wales Council of the Blind have some useful information here

Diabetic Eye Screening

Public Health Wales announced on 1 September that diabetic eye screening restarts this month in clinics across Wales – you can find more information about this here. Public Health Wales is also running a survey about diabetic eye screening that is now available online here. Further information about the restarting of other screening services will be available in the coming weeks.

Eye health during coronavirus

Concerned about your eye health during coronavirus? Whether it’s a regular or follow-up appointment, or emergency advice or treatment, RNIB has put together some helpful advice and guidance on eye health during coronavirus in one handy document. Access it here

Face coverings and sight loss

From Monday 14 September, in Wales, face coverings will be required in all indoor public places. This will apply to both customers and staff working in those indoor public areas. This includes a very wide range of locations, such as shops and shopping centres, places of worship, hairdressers and salons, cinemas and museums, gyms and leisure centres, and anywhere that is open to members of the public. It would also include any public areas within buildings that are otherwise closed to the public – for example a reception area of an office building. The only indoor public areas where face coverings will not be required are where you are inside a place to eat or drink, for example, cafés, restaurants and pubs.

If you have concerns about wearing a face covering, shop around. There are many different styles and types available. People who wear hearing aids may struggle with the ear elastic. You could consider using a version that ties behind the head or you could use an ear saver (a small strip of fabric which has a button at either end for the elastic to loop around instead of your ears). If you find it difficult to breathe, some masks have vents or filters that might be helpful. You might also find it beneficial to buy a mask that is more moulded and therefore sits slightly away from the mouth and nose. It is worth shopping around as there are many options in a wide range of prices. Practice taking one on and off, and wear one around the house first so you are comfortable and familiar with how it feels.

If your disability means that you cannot wear one, you are exempt from the requirement. The Government guidance specifies, in particular, an exemption for someone with a visual impairment whose residual vision would be obscured by a face covering. Exemption cards and badges, which you can print off or put on your phone to show other people that you are exempt along with a full list of exemptions can be found on the GOV.UK face coverings web page. Further guidance for Wales can be found here.

Food parcels and Food Banks

Teresa contacted the Cardiff Council Advice Hub today for a client with sight loss. She had little food in the house and was not able to get out to any shops. Teresa emailed the Council her details and the Council has arranged for food parcels to be delivered to her. Cardiff Council can be contacted via email: [email protected]  or by phone: 029 2087 1071. If you live in Cardiff and you are struggling to buy food, click here to find out how to access a voucher for your local food bank.

For information on Cardiff’s Food Banks, click here

For information on Caerphilly’s Food Banks, click here

For information on Merthyr Tydfil’s Food Banks, click here

For information on Neath Port Talbot’s Food Banks, click here

For information on Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Food Banks, click here

For information on Swansea’s Food Banks, click here

Fraud and Scams

The coronavirus pandemic has led to criminals exploiting worried and vulnerable people and obtaining personal and financial information by deception. Read our guide to avoiding fraud and scams.

Mindfulness and coronavirus

Many people are struggling with anxiety at the moment. In response to this, Public Health Wales has launched Activate your life, a free online course. This free course is designed to help you improve your mental health and wellbeing. Feeling worried or anxious can have a big impact on your health and for some people life can be particularly difficult, and mindfulness can help to allay feelings of anxiety. To access the course, click here.

Please Give me Space

In the early months of lockdown, it became clear that for some people with different disabilities and conditions, including those with sight loss, maintaining social distancing was incredibly challenging. For many, it was causing significantly increased levels of stress and anxiety. So, following consultation, the Please Give Me Space (PGMS) tool was developed by RNIB and the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, with support from the Cabinet Office. It was created as an option to be used by anyone who may have a hidden disability or anyone who feels that they may need support with social distancing when out shopping, walking or socialising.  It was designed to act as a reminder the public to be mindful and give space to help keep each other safe.

The PGMS symbol of a person in-between two double-headed arrows on a yellow circle background has been adapted to be used in a range of formats, allowing the wearer to pick the item best suited to their needs.  The words ‘Please give me space’ are also often seen in conjunction with the sign. The PGMS symbol has been adopted by the Cabinet Office and is available as a card to print or mobile phone badge as a free download from the government website. But for anyone that wants to wear a PGMS item, the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme (makers of the Sunflower lanyard) have now launched a product range of accessories with the symbol incorporated in the design. The wearer can decide what item within the range, best works for them. For more information and to order click here.

Public Transport

For some information on travelling by train and on Cardiff bus, please click here.

Shopping updates

Morrisons has a dedicated order line for the elderly or vulnerable. Simply call 0345 611 6111 and select option five to place your order through the service. Be aware that you will need to pay via contactless payment when your shopping is delivered. Tesco also has a dedicated order line for vulnerable customers. Call 0800 917 7359 to access priority delivery slots. Asda, Waitrose and Sainsburys have all introduced a Volunteer Shopping Card Scheme so that vulnerable customers don’t have to give cash to volunteers. These can be ordered via their websites. Sainsburys and Waitrose also have a phone number if you are not able to order via the internet. Call Sainsburys on 0371 200 1597. Call Waitrose on 0330 123 0350.

Social distancing and sight loss

People with sight loss struggle to social distance. Not everyone has a guide dog or uses a white cane, so not every visual impairment is obvious. The Partially Sighted Society has produced some bright yellow lanyards for people with sight loss to wear when they are out and about to make other people aware that the wearer is visually impaired and is unable to socially distance. We have some on order so call us on 029 2039 8900 if you would like to purchase one for £2.00.

Testing for coronavirus

If you have developed one of the following symptoms, you may have coronavirus:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • loss of or change to sense of smell or taste

If you develop one of these symptoms follow the self-isolation guidance and book a coronavirus test. The test is only effective for those who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms and needs to be taken in the first five days of having symptoms. It only checks if you have coronavirus right now and not if you have already had the virus. Click here to find out hot to apply for a test.

Transport and vaccinations

Cardiff

VEST Community Transport is providing elderly and disabled people with free transport to vaccination appointments if they are unable to get to the surgery by using public transport because of age or disability. Contact VEST on 029 20 490335 for more information. You need to be a VEST member to access the service, but if you aren’t don’t worry – you can sign up when you call to inquire about your journey.

Drive Taxis, the only driver-owned co-operative taxi firm in Wales, is offering a free taxi service to elderly and vulnerable passengers to get their COVID-19 vaccine. The scheme allows elderly and vulnerable passengers to book a free taxi ride to take them to their vaccination appointment as long as it is within the Cardiff boundary. Drive Taxis will pick them up afterwards, too. Call Drive on 029 2014 0140 to see how they can help.

Dragon Taxis is offering free rides to help roll out the COVID vaccine to elderly and vulnerable patients across Cardiff. Dragon is working with participating GP practices to offer rides only to those eligible persons who have been invited to make a vaccination appointment if they have no other means of transport. Passengers eligible for free journeys are those passengers over 65 years and younger adults with long term clinical conditions as defined by the UK Government on 10 January 2021. The offer provides a COVID-safe private hire journey to the vaccination centre. The patient has the option to book a safe journey home too. Follow this link to find out more about the offer (at the bottom of Dragon Taxi’s website)  www.dragontaxis.com/covid-19/passengers/. Check with your surgery whether you can access this service.

Swansea Bay University Health Board

Working with partners in the local councils for voluntary services and local authorities, Swansea Bay University Health Board is now able to offer free transport to its Mass Vaccination Centres for those with mobility issues who have received appointment letters. Only those who have received appointments should go to the centres. To arrange transport, Swansea residents can contact: 07538 105244 or [email protected]. Neath Port Talbot residents can contact: 07494 966448 or [email protected]

The Health Board intends to include this information in the appointment letters which go out to patients. On arrival at the vaccination centres, military colleagues, who have been trained to assist wheelchair users, will be on hand to help.

There is also a free bus available from the Quadrant and the health board is working with the bus company to see if the drop off and pick up point can be closer to the entrance to the Mass Vaccination Centre.

Winter Accident and Emergency procedures

New figures show that emergency departments within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board remain under huge pressure. Katja Empson, a consultant at the Emergency Unit and one of the leads for CAV 24/7, reiterates the ‘Help Us, Help You’ message this winter, by reminding people to call the new CAV 24/7 number ahead of visiting the emergency unit.

“Anyone who feels they need a visit to A&E, but does not have a life-threatening illness or injury, will be asked to call CAV 24/7 on 0300 10 20 247 where their details will be taken by a trained call handler. They will then receive a call back from a clinician within 20 minutes for urgent needs, or an hour for less urgent needs, who will ‘triage’ the patient. CAV 24/7 does not replace 999 calls for life-threatening conditions.”

Dr Empson strongly advises using CAV 24/7 for all but the most serious and life threatening emergencies as this will safely allow people to be directed to the right place at the right time and ensure that the services at the Emergency Unit are available for those that need it most. She said:

“Emergency Units experience higher attendances every winter and our clinical teams need to be able to focus their work on those seriously ill with infections, heart attacks and strokes. The situation in the current pandemic is even more critical; so during this extremely difficult time I ask people to carefully consider where to get advice if they are concerned about minor illness, mild symptoms or long standing problems. Support is out there in a number of ways so please consider your pharmacy, dentist, optician or local GP before calling CAV 24/7. However, calling CAV 24/7 will mean that you are given support in those decisions if you are unsure and will also allow you to get seen at a Minor Injuries Unit instead of the Emergency Unit. You should not attend the Emergency Unit without contacting CAV 24/7 first.”

Call CAV 24/7 on 0300 10 20 247. For more information on how best to access NHS services this winter, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, self-isolate and book a test.

Information for your area

Cardiff County Council coronavirus information
Caerphilly Council coronavirus information
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council coronavirus information
Neath Port Talbot Council coronavirus information
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council coronavirus information
Swansea Council coronavirus information