From 1 April, the Government has told people who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ that they will no longer have to shield.
The announcement comes as a part of the national plan to lessen COVID-19 restrictions and although many people are looking forward to going out of the house more, we understand that people affected by WM may be anxious at the prospect.
We’ve put together some tips and resources to help you plan and feel more reassured as you come out of shielding.
You’re not alone! There is a whole community of people affected by Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia who have also been shielding. Join one of WMUK’s forums and reach out for advice and tips from others in a similar situation – many people find it simply a comfort to just share their worries. Find out more about our email forum, Facebook group and Virtual Support Groups here.
Take things slowly
Don’t feel the need to go everywhere that you used to go – like the shops, the pharmacy, meeting friends in the park or going to family’s gardens – all at once. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the possibilities!
You may want to list out the things that are most important to you and use this to prioritise what activities you want to start. This could be seeing a friend for a socially distanced walk, or perhaps it is going to do the shopping.
Remember, wherever possible, to only do things at your own pace.
Follow the government guidance
Keep up to date with the government guidance. Now that you’re not shielding, you’ll need to follow the same rules that apply to everyone else. You can find the latest guidance online.
Try to avoid busy times or areas
If you’re eager to get out of the house and resume a more ‘normal’ life but are anxious about crowded areas, get a strategy in place!
For example, you can use Google to see what the busiest times for your local supermarket are, or speak to family and friends about things like the popularity of local walking routes or parks. By doing this you can plan visits to the shops, exercise or take part in social engagements whilst minimising your contact with people you don’t know.
Talking to work
If you are employed, you’ll no longer be able to claim sick pay after the shielding advice comes to an end. If you can, you’re advised to work from home and you should talk to your employer about making this possible.
If you can’t work from home, you are now allowed to go into the workplace. However, your employer may still be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It’s important to discuss any concerns you have with your employer, who may be able to make adjustments to your work environment to offer you reassurance.
Get help and guidance on mental health
If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are some fantastic resources and support services that can help you.
Every mind matters – NHS expert advice and practical tips to support mental health
Mind – provides advice and support for people experiencing any mental health problem, including how to look after yourself during lockdown and beyond. They have an information line: 0300 123 3393
Government guidance – the hub for government guidance for looking after your mental health during the pandemic
SAMH – Scotland’s mental health charity has advice specifically for looking after yourself during lockdown
We’re here for you
If you have questions or would like to share any concerns you have, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Just email us or call 020 3096 7858.