This month shielding will be paused across the UK. For many, this is a welcome announcement giving freedom to visit family and friends or head out and about. For others, it is met with caution and worry about exposure to COVID-19. However you feel about life after shielding, you should adjust to the changes at your own pace and continue to take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19.
We have pulled together some advice to help you live life to the fullest as shielding comes to an end.
Remember the basics
Whether you are meeting friends and family indoors or going out to the shops, you should continue to practise good hygiene and minimise contact with others to reduce your risk of COVID-19.
The basic things to remember in all situations are:
- Stay away from people with symptoms of COVID-19 symptoms
- Regularly clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser
- Don’t share food or crockery, glasses and cutlery – consider taking your own if it makes you more comfortable
- Don’t share towels
- Ask others to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Regularly clean or minimise contact with areas frequently touched by others e.g. light switches and door handles.
- Wear a face mask when in indoor spaces with people not in your household
- Keep your distance from others as much as possible
Many of you won’t have been around people you don’t live with for a long time, so you may find the first few times you do go out daunting. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can help reduce your worry about the risk of going out.
When planning to go out you should think about:
When you go
Try to avoid going out or using public transport at busy times. This will reduce the number of people you will be in contact with. If you are going to a restaurant, pub or café you can always call ahead to find out when they are quieter.
Where you go
When deciding where to go you should assess your risk of COVID-19 infection by considering the measures being taken to reduce the risk of infection (e.g. use of PPE, regular cleaning) and whether social distancing is possible. This applies when visiting friends and family in their houses as well as when going to a restaurant, beach, dentist or hairdresser. If you don’t feel comfortable with the level of risk, you can choose a different location or activity. For example, you may choose to stay outdoors where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is lower or go to a pub or restaurant with more space.
Your personal level of risk
Every patient will have a different level of risk depending on their health and number of COVID-19 cases in their area. Knowing your personal level of risk can help you decide what you are comfortable doing now shielding is paused. Talk to your healthcare team about your level of risk and if there are any reasons you should be particularly careful.
Whatever you do make sure you take your face mask and hand sanitising gel or wipes with you.
Look after yourself
When you are inviting people to your home or getting out and about you need to look after yourself. The people you meet, including your friends and family, may not know the strict precautions they should be taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, it is worth telling or reminding people that you have a very high risk of COVID-19 and need to be extra careful.
When making a booking at a pub, restaurant or beauticians ask questions about what they are doing to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to make sure you are comfortable with the level of precautions they are taking. This can include how they are limiting the number of people indoors, whether they are providing table service, how they are keeping things clean and if the staff are wearing PPE.
You can also request extra precautions, such as more space, a table away from busy areas and walkways, or a private appointment with your hairdresser or beautician.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any point, ask your family, friends or a member of staff for help. You may be able to move to a different table or seat, and you can always leave if you want to.
Although you may be cautious about going outside, being around family and friends or even getting your haircut it might be fun and make you feel better.
If have any questions or concerns about adjusting to life after shielding you can contact us on the Myeloma Infoline (0800 980 3332) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.