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MS, carers and care at home during coronavirus restrictions

If you're caring for someone with MS during the coronavirus restrictions, this page can help you find support, including how social care services might be able to help you.

We reviewed this information page on Wednesday 8 December 2021

Government and general guidance for unpaid carers

The UK governments have guidance for anyone providing unpaid care. This includes advice on protecting people you live with, how to access emergency care, and looking after your own health.

Read the UK government guidance for unpaid carers. There’s separate guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) for unpaid carers. It’s included in advice for people who get social care services through direct payments - but the PPE information covers family and friends as well.

You can also find support where you live on the Carers UK website

Practical support with shopping and prescriptions

Even with restrictions easing, there might still be still support available for getting food and prescriptions. 

Find out more about Getting help with shopping and prescriptions during and after lockdown

Am I entitled to any financial support?

Carer's Allowance

Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers. And if you look after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you might be eligible.

From 30 March, eligibility for Carer’s Allowance has been relaxed in two ways across the UK:

  • Unpaid carers can continue getting Carer’s Allowance if they take up to 4 weeks off from caring within a 6 month period because they, or the person they care for, gets coronavirus. Or if they have to self-isolate because of it.
  • Giving someone emotional support on the phone or online now counts towards the 35 hours of care needed to qualify for Carer’s Allowance

Find out if you qualify for Carers’ Allowance on the UK government's website

If you’re in Scotland, find out more about financial support and other help for carers

It’s also worth checking you and the person with MS are getting what you’re entitled to.

Read more about finances and benefits during coronavirus lockdown

Statutory sick pay and furlough

The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) ended in September 2021. But there is greater access to statutory sick pay and employment support to help people affected financially by coronavirus. This includes:

  • people who can’t work because they’ve been advised to self-isolate
  • people who can’t work because they care for someone at home and the household has been told to self-isolate

If you care for someone you live with, you might be able to claim statutory sick pay (SSP) for the total time you have to self-isolate.

SSP is arranged through your employer. Talk to them first about occupational sick pay, as that is more generous, but if you’re not eligible for that, you can apply for SSP. 

Read more about statutory sick pay on the UK government website

Can I get tested for COVID-19?

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should ask for a 'PCR' test. Some home testing kits are available for people who can't get to a drive-through centre.

Book a COVID-19 test online in England and Wales or call 119.

Book a COVID-19 test online in Scotland or call 0800 028 2816

Book a COVID-19 test online in Northern Ireland or call 0300 303 2713

Remember you're not alone

We're here for you. If you’re worried about your MS and coronavirus and want to chat to someone, call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays.

If you'd like to talk your worries through online with other people who know MS, visit our Online Community Forum today.

You can join one of our Time to Chat or Virtual Wellbeing sessions and connect online with other people living with MS across the UK. Or you could sign up for an information webinar. We've got plenty to choose from, take a look at our online sessions and see what suits you.

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We're constantly updating our information on coronavirus. So if you want to share it, please link to the page directly rather than quoting or summarising what we’ve said.

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