The government’s shielding guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals has been updated, with an extra 1.7million people expected to be added to the list of those needing to shield.
The updated guidance follows the implementation of a new model adding other key risk factors to the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment to determine who is potentially at high risk of serious illness if they contract coronavirus. The factors calculated now include ethnicity, deprivation (by postcode), weight and homelessness according to GP records.
The increase in shielding people may impact housing associations in the following ways:
- Registering for vaccinations. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable will get priority access to coronavirus vaccinations. Individuals who need to shield are identified by their GP, so the government advises supported housing providers to help residents, such as homeless individuals, to register with a GP. This will also enable them to be invited for the coronavirus vaccine in due course
- Staffing levels and business continuity. Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to stay at home as much as possible and to work from home if they can. If they cannot work from home, the government advises that they should not go to work. We understand that the addition of people to the shielded patient list could have an impact on staffing levels and business continuity. We are discussing the impact of this on housing associations in our conversations with government officials, so please get in touch if this is the case for your service or organisation.
- Supporting people with shielding. Local authorities have a responsibility to support people who are shielding but the guidance tells people to register themselves if they need this support. To register, individuals must quote their NHS number, which some people may not know. Supported housing providers can help people with this process and should let their local authority know what support they can provide.