Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe when helping others

During coronavirus (COVID-19) if you are looking out for family, friends and neighbours, there is information available on how you can help. There are also things you can do to stay safe when helping others. 

When you can help

You can only provide support to people who are in isolation if you fulfil ALL of the conditions below:

  • you are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
  • you are under 70
  • you are not pregnant
  • you do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus.

Who you can help

You can help households who are isolating. This could include friends and family members as well as your neighbours.

If you want to help in your local community, but don’t know how, further information can be found in the details below.

Always remember, you should only provide support in person where it is essential for the health or care of a vulnerable person.

How you can help

For most people, coronavirus causes mild symptoms. For others, such as older people and those with underlying medical conditions, it can be more serious.

It’s important to  look out for family, friends and neighbours who may need help. . You can help by:

  • doing their shopping or collecting prescriptions
  • delivering a newspaper or magazine
  • staying in contact, over the phone or via social media, to help reduce feelings of loneliness
  • encouraging them to stay mentally and physically active
  • sharing trusted sources of information, for example, the Public Health Agency and the Department of Health

What to do if you are worried about someone’s health

If you are worried about someone’s health, you can encourage anyone you are in touch with or supporting to use the COVID-19 NI app.

The app provides people in Northern Ireland with immediate advice and links to trusted information. It is available from the Apple app store and Google play store

An online version of the app is available for those without access to a smartphone but who are able to access a computer or tablet device.

They can also use the NHS 111 coronavirus service. They should only call 111 if they can’t get online, their symptoms worsen or they have been instructed to do so. Call 999 if you believe someone’s life is at risk.

A remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users in Northern Ireland has been introduced to provide access to NHS 111 and Health and Social Care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information is available on the Health Services page.

Staying safe while helping others

When supporting others, it is important you help safely:

  • wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds
  • stay at least two metres (six feet) away from people you’re helping
  • do not go inside the homes of anyone you do not live with, especially people who are vulnerable or self-isolating

If you are picking things up for others, try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for them when you do your own shopping or collect their medicines during the same trip.

If you have offered to help other people, please do not place yourself in positions where you may feel unsafe, for instance helping late at night.

If you or someone in your household has shown symptoms, or if you are more vulnerable to coronavirus yourself, then you must stay home. You still play an important role but will need to do this from home.

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