Caring for children and vulnerable adults

SWF Health & Social Care Group is aware of situations we’ve dealt with in conjunction with others where suitable arrangements have needed to be made for children and vulnerable adults following medical advice and using suitable methods to ensure avoidance of having to use the last resort of hospital admission or intervention by social care. This is in the context of both NHS and social services being overstretched by increased demand with staff absent for various reasons including illness and self-isolating etc. During lockdown, situations leading to this may have followed serious illness with COVID-19 or other emergencies such as strokes, heart attacks, other major illnesses and major accidents.

Patient confidentiality applies along with safeguarding confidentiality and data protection especially to children and vulnerable adults and those caring for them. Such exceptions must be dealt with in accordance with the medical and social care advice and the confidentiality about them be scrupulously respected. Unless in such exceptional circumstances, which have always been permitted by the rules, we urge everyone to abide by the rules, stay safe, alert & well.

Government advice since mid-March 2020 for households where one or more members have coronavirus symptoms is “stay at home”.

However, it does say that there may be exceptional circumstances when children and vulnerable adults are involved.

The day after lockdown began, 24 March, the deputy chief medical officer for England, Dr Jenny Harries, clarified who could look after a child if parents or carers were incapacitated.

She said: “Clearly if you have adults who are unable to look after a small child, that is an exceptional circumstance.”

“And if the individuals do not have access to care support – formal care support – or to family, they will be able to work through their local authority hubs.”

Dr Harries has also said that: “Any of the government lockdown guidance can be overruled by safeguarding concerns, or prevention of harm”, and “Risk to life” would be a valid reason to break lockdown rules.

Exceptional circumstances are identified and judged on a case by case basis. SWF Health & Social Care in conjunction with GPs, other medical experts, social care authorities and our local authority hub has helped with a few such situations.

We urge anyone who may be in an exceptional circumstance to seek professional advice and we are able to support that.