Rainbow Trust responds to change in shielding guidance

Rainbow Trust Children's Charity cautiously welcomes the announcement that families who are shielding may now leave their home if they wish, but urges the government to work more closely with the clinical community in future, to avoid creating uncertainty and confusion when guidance is suddenly changed.

As of Monday, those in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ group have been advised that they may spend time outdoors with members of their own household, while keeping two metres apart from all other people, and washing hands regularly.

However, the announcement took many medical professionals and health and care organisations by surprise, and condition-specific charities are urging the publication of the evidence behind this change in order to understand the rationale and what the evidence may mean for particular patient groups.

Rainbow Trust Chief Executive Zillah Bingley said:

"Many families supported by Rainbow Trust will have conflicting feelings about the news that they may now leave the house while following strict social distancing measures. Some will value the possibility of spending time together outside, but many will still be deeply anxious about the risk to their child posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the greater easing of the lockdown for the general population, streets and public spaces are getting busier, and families may feel unsure about leaving the house with many more people around. We strongly suggest that parents speak to their child’s medical team to understand how the change in guidance affects their particular situation.
"At the same time, we urge government to ensure that future changes are announced with greater involvement of the clinical community prior to any announcement of future changes to minimise confusion so that families who are shielding to protect their seriously ill child receive clear and timely guidance specific to their situation."

One parent, whose family is supported by Rainbow Trust, said:

"We're worried about the easing of the lockdown and can't understand how it's safer for shielded people to be able to go outside. I would have thought it to be more dangerous now that there are more people out and more people feeling it's safe now not to follow guidelines."

Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers are continuing to provide emotional and practical support for families across England. Last week saw 471 instances of support including emotional support by phone and video, transport to hospital, virtual play sessions, grocery and medicine drops, end of life support, and bereavement support.

The updated guidance can be found here.

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