Last updated - 8 June 2020
If you have a neurological condition or care for someone who does, you may be concerned about how the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak will affect you.
There are many neurological conditions, and there will be issues that are specific to certain conditions. Some of our member charities have suggested pages with advice and information for people with specific conditions.
We also recommend that you check with charities that work with people with your condition in order to get condition specific advice.
The Scottish Government published new information for people with a neurological condition on 2 April 2020.
The Association of British Neurologists has also published guidance about COVID-19 and neurological conditions. This guidance is being updated regularly.
This page is for general advice for people with neurological conditions and carers.
Advice for everyone in Scotland
As of 8 June 2020, Scottish Government advice for everyone living in Scotland is to stay at home as much as possible, wash your hands regularly . Reasons you may leave your home include:
- for work, where you can't work from home
- going to shops and other essential services staying 2m apart
- to exercise or spend time outdoors, staying 2m apart - it's suggested that this should be within 5 miles of your home
- to socialise outdoors, staying 2m apart (with no more than 8 people in total, and only 1 household per day)
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or provide care or help to a vulnerable person
If you need to be in an indoor space (like a shop or a bus), the Scottish Government advice is to wear a face covering to protect other people. There are lots of guides to making your own fabric face coverings online. Here is one from the UK Government.
Advice for people who are in the high risk vulnerable group
People who are in the high risk vulnerable group should continue to follow strict physical distancing measures.
Advice for people who are in the extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) group
Those who have been advised that they are extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) must continue to self-isolate. The Scottish Government issued an update for people who are shielding on 8 June 2020. People who are currently shielded will be asked to continue to self-isolate until 31 July. Scottish Government and local authority support such as food boxes and pharmacy deliveries will continue.
If it is considered safe to do so, people who are shielding will be allowed to exercise outside from 18 June. This exercise will not include meeting up with other people, or playing sports like golf and tennis. It will not apply to care home residents.
Scottish Government and other support
On 14 April 2020, Scottish Government launched a free helpline - 0800 111 4000 - for people in the high risk vulnerable group who do not have family or community support. The helpline is there to help people to access practical support with practical issues like shopping, medicines delivery and contact details for local organisations from their local authority. It is initially open 9.00am - 5.00pm every day.
If you do not qualify for a free flu jab because of your health condition (or the person you support doesn't) the Scottish Government says you should contact Ready Scotland if you need practical support.
There is also a free Coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline for people without symptoms who want general information: 0800 028 2816 Opening hours: Monday - Friday, 8.00am - 10.00pm Saturday and Sunday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
Scottish Government has shared a very helpful summary of the support supermarkets in each area of Scotland can offer to people who need additional support.
Am I more likely to get coronavirus?
It depends on your condition. Most people with a neurological condition are not at a greater risk than anyone else of catching coronavirus.
People with some specific conditions have an elevated risk of catching coronavirus because their condition or treatment affects their immune system. People in this group are called the shielded or extremely clinically vulnerable group. There are around 200,000 people in this category, and Scottish Government is now contacting them with specific advice to self-isolate and practice social shielding.
Scottish Government says that if you are in this group, you must:
- not leave your home
- minimise all non-essential contact with other members of your household
until 31 July, although exercise outside may be permitted after 18 June.
If you live with other people, they do not have to self-isolate, but they should follow social distancing measures to protect you. These include:
- keeping 2 metres (3 steps) away from you with and sleeping in a different bed where possible
- using a separate bathroom from you. If you share a toilet and bathroom with others, it’s important that they are cleaned after use every time
- consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first
- do not share bath or hand towels
- avoid using the kitchen and eating with you - you should eat in your own room, if you can
- use a dishwasher if you have one. If not, wash up using your usual washing up liquid and warm water
- use a separate tea towel for drying crockery and cutlery
Everyone in your household should:
- regularly wash their hands
- avoid touching their face
- clean frequently touched surfaces
Find out more about social shielding on the NHS Inform website.
Am I more likely to develop complications?
Some groups of people have an increased risk of complications if they get coronavirus. These groups include everyone over 70, people who are pregnant, and some people with long term conditions.
The Scottish Government has specifically named some neurological conditions as placing people at a greater risk - specifically Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy. This is not an exhaustive list - the Scottish Government says that if you would normally qualify for an NHS flu vaccination because of your condition, you should consider that you are at greater risk.
The Scottish Government says that people who are at risk should be strict about social distancing.
Helpful tips to reduce unnecessary social contact
- use a telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
- if you need food or medicine, ask a friend, neighbour or delivery driver to bring them and leave them on your doorstep for you to collect.
- you can go outside for exercise. Keep a distance of around 2 metres (6 feet) between you and other people.
- keep connected with family, friends and your community through phone calls, online forums and social media.
What about my routine care and support?
Many people with a neurological condition require regular and ongoing support from NHS and/or social care professionals.
It is not clear how the outbreak will impact on routine NHS and social care support provision. We will update this as more information becomes available.
The Association for British Neurologists has published Guidance on Recommencing Neurology Services.
I care for someone with a neurological condition. What do I need to know?
It’s important for everyone in contact with someone with a neurological condition to follow Scottish Government and NHS Scotland advice, such as good hand hygiene and social distancing.
Here is basic hygiene advice:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue, put the tissue in the bin immediately, and wash your hands afterwards.
- If you are unable to use a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not your hands
For some people with neurological conditions, handwashing can be more difficult, and it's important to take extra care. Sandra Mackay, an Occupational Therapist based at Cerebral Palsy Scotland has developed this helpful guide to handwashing for people with neurological conditions.
Carers Scotland and the Carers’ Trust Scotland have been involved in creating this helpful guidance for carers, including your rights to support, and how to create a contingency plan in case you or someone else in your household becomes unwell.