How can we keep someone shielding safe if we're going back to work?

Hello

My husband has lymohoma diagnosed during the pandemic.

I and my eldest daughter work in schools, my youngest as an administrator for the nhs.

My husbands firm are amazing. There is no pressure to come in.

My eldest daughter, as a teacher, feels she has no choice but to move into a house on the school site to enable her to work.

My younger daughter is working from home currently but we are unsure if this will be allowed to continue.

I can largely work from home, and am going in after hours if needed since this week - audit remotely is hard to do…

How are we supposed to keep Terry safe at home. The more we are out the higher risk he is in when we come home. We have one bathroom, and an average sized three bed house. He can’t live locked in a bedroom until next spring. There is no advice for us.

How can it be ok for the inhabitants of the same house as someone who is shielding to be working in a school, as per guidance?

We have throughout tried to be as pragmatic as possible but I don’t know how to keep him safe, or how my youngest daughter is supposed to live her life when all around her are “back to normal”. Moving out is not something that everyone can afford to do.

Should I even be going in when the school is empty?

Feeling confused and anxious - sorry to trouble you

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Hi @Jo_hawkins, a great big welcome to our forum, it sounds to me as if you have found the right place to be able to voice the anxieties and practicalities so many of us feel living in the real world and you worded it so eloquently. I cannot say what to do but all you can probably do is to be sensible and take reasonable precautions in your particular circumstances.
What a horrible time to get what I expect was such scary news, I expect you are all still in shock. It sounds as if you are coping brilliantly and my motto is if in doubt your husband can talk things through with his medical contact. We are all here to support you and you can contact the wonderful Blood Cancer UK Support Services Team on 0808 2080 888 10am-7pm Monday-Friday and 10am to 1pm Saturday and Sunday or via email at support@bloodcancer.org.uk if you feel the need. Take care of yourselves and spoil yourselves.

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Hi @Jo_hawkins, a warm welcome to the forum, I’m really glad you found this community during what must be such a worrying and uncertain time for you. How are you all coping as a family? Is there any information around your husband’s condition that you’d like me to send some general information around? Do let me know if so, either on here or through our support line.
It’s really good to hear that your husband’s firm are so supportive. It’s totally understandable though that you’re having worries about the rest of your family’s work circumstances and the potential risks these carry. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this anxious time and not feeling as though you have clear guidance on how to best help keep Terry safe at this time.

As it talks through on our web-page around shielding guidance here, those living with people who are shielding should be following the strict advice to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus during their work. When they get home, they should wash their hands thoroughly.

Under the ‘what happens after shielding is paused’ section of the above web-page, there are tips around talking to employers, which you and your daughters might find helpful to read through. It may help you to talk through your circumstances with them so they know how best to support you, and so they understand the importance around ensuring they are meeting requirements around doing everything they can to reduce the risk within the workplace.

Have you and Terry talked through your anxieties with members of his treatment team such as his consultant or his clinical nurse specialist? They’d always be best placed to give advice and guidance around Terry’s individual circumstances. You may find it helpful to talk your families circumstances through with them so they can offer guidance around your situation.

I’m so sorry you’re feeling confused and anxious, though it’s totally understandable. As you may know already, you’re certainly not alone in your worries around this. You and your husband might also find this page helpful, Coping with the emotional impact of the easing of lockdown
I can only imagine how tough it was when Terry received his diagnosis, and how worrying it still must be trying to navigate this uncertain time, especially as people start ‘getting back to normal’, as you mentioned. As @Erica said, the Blood Cancer UK support line is here if you want to talk things through by phone or email (it’s free and confidential). Take care and welcome again to the forum - I hope you find it of some support for you.

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I received this reply from my MP in response from the Blood UK request to contact your MP’s.

Thank you for contacting me about employment support for people with blood cancer.

Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with around 250,000 people living with the disease. For those people and their families, I believe we must do all we can to ensure the right treatment and support is on offer.

Blood Cancer UK has raised concerns about financial protection for people in the UK with blood cancer who are unable to return to work. The charity estimates around 9,000 people may be in this category, due to being advised by clinicians to continue shielding or where their employer cannot create a COVID-free workplace and working from home is not possible.

Shielding for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England, including people with blood cancer, will be paused from 1 August unless transmission of coronavirus in the community starts to rise significantly. From this date, the UK Government will advise people who were previously shielding that they can go to work, provided the workplace is COVID-secure, but should carry on working from home if possible. Shielding is also due to be paused in Scotland from 1 August and in Wales from 16 August.

I am concerned that where an employer cannot make the workplace COVID-secure, individuals may feel forced to put their health at risk just to make ends meet. I therefore supported calls on the UK Government to extend the full job retention scheme for those who are unable to return to work safely.

Ministers in the UK Government have said regarding people with blood cancer who have been shielding and cannot work from home that an employee could be furloughed from 1 July where they were previously furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has been available as a safety net in cases where people have been unable to go to work or be furloughed. The UK Government has said that once shielding is paused individuals will no longer be eligible for SSP on the basis of being clinically extremely vulnerable. However, it has also confirmed that those who are required to continue shielding after 1 August and have a medical letter confirming this will continue to be eligible for SSP.

Thanks again for your email and don’t hesitate to write to me again if you have any further questions about this or any other issue.

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