COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - staying healthy and connected

Advice for groups with specific needs

This page details advice for groups with specific needs, including those with existing mental health conditions; those with a learning disability; those with dementia; unpaid carers, and older residents.

Dealing with a mental health crisis or emergency

You may find that the added stress of the current situation could have a big impact on your mental health. In some cases, you may feel that you are having a mental health crisis as you no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation.

Please go to Urgent support for mental health or Samaritans for urgent support

You may:

  • feel great emotional distress or anxiety, 

  • feel that you cannot cope with day-to-day life or work, 

  • think about self-harm or even suicide, 

  • or experience or hear voices (hallucinations).

If this sort of situation happens, you should get immediate expert assessment and advice to identify the best course of action:

  • If you’re under the care of a mental health team and have a specific care plan that states who to contact when you need urgent care, follow this plan.

  • If you are under the care of South West London St George’s mental health trust you can call their mental health support line (0800 028 8000) which is open from 5pm to 9am Monday to Friday and 24 hours on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays

  • Mind also provides information about how to plan for a crisis.

  • Samaritans has a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence. Call them on 116 123.

  • You can contact NHS 111 if you need urgent care that’s not life threatening.

  • In a medical emergency call 999 if you are seriously ill or injured and your life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.

  • Our Frontline offers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health for frontline health, care, emergency and key workers.. They are a partnership between Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

See further advice from the NHS on dealing with a mental health crisis.

Existing mental health conditions

If you already have a mental health problem, then you may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak particularly challenging. 

If you are already receiving mental health care, contact your mental health team to discuss how care will continue, and to update safety/care plans. 

Go to Connected Kingston, COVID-19 Staying Mentally Well page to find out how local support and mental health services have amended their support during this time. There are also people you can speak to via a number of recommended NHS helplines. 

Anxiety UK – health and other forms of anxiety and Coronavirus

OCD Action Skype/Phone Support Groups

If you are being treated or taking medication for existing conditions

Continue accessing treatment and support where possible: Let relevant services know that you are staying at home, and work out how to continue receiving support during this time. 

Keep taking your medication: You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone, or online using an app or website if your doctor’s surgery offers this. Continue to order your repeat prescriptions in your usual time frame. There is no need to order for a longer duration or larger quantities. You can ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered or think about who you could ask to collect it for you. 

Please call the Kingston Stronger Together Hub on 020 8547 5000 if you are unable to pick up your prescriptions. There are volunteers in the community who can help.

People with a learning disability

You may be finding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak stressful. You may be worried about changes that might happen because of it, including having to stay at home. You may also be worried about your family or those close to you.

Public Health England has easy read guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect you. There is also other information available about coronavirus (COVID-19) from Mencap and how to manage difficult feelings you are having.

There are ways you can take care of yourself and prevent spreading the virus:

  • you should keep in touch with people you trust (like friends, family and employer) over the phone or internet - if you do leave the house, follow social distancing guidance

  • there may also be self-advocacy groups in your area offering more support online or by phone - you can ask your families or carers for help to search for these groups

  • it is also important to get information about coronavirus (COVID-19) only from places you can trust, such as the NHS website

While it is important to be aware of coronavirus (COVID-19), it is important not to forget about any other health conditions you might have. Make sure you take any medication you have been prescribed, keep any hospital appointments you have (unless you have been told otherwise by the hospital) and tell people if you can’t attend appointments.

Services for children with disabilities  

We are prioritising the safeguarding of all children and social care services access by parents carers and children across the borough. Information and advice about changes to our service can be found on our Achieving For Children website 

We are working to maintain our; 

  • Short breaks care 
  • Support services for children with special educational needs, disabilities and complex health needs.  

For support information and advice for children with special education needs and their families visit our Local Offer online resources 

Contact us via email [email protected] if you have any questions or enquiries related to the service.

Unpaid carers

The government has published COVID-19 guidance for anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who, due to a lifelong condition, illness, disability, serious injury, a mental health condition or an addiction, cannot cope without their support.

  • What you can be doing to prepare
  • Protecting yourself and the person you care for
  • Accessing alternative care quickly if you are unable to provide care
  • If the person you care for is in a care home
  • If you or the person you care for has COVID-19 symptoms


Do the things you would usually do to keep well, like eating food you enjoy and taking exercise, once a day outside if you can. If you have support from others, plan with them how you can remain well and relaxed. There are also other things you can do to help to manage your emotions if you feel you are losing control, such as:

  • keeping a diary

  • using apps like Brain in Hand

  • learning relaxation techniques

  • creating a plan with your carer for when you feeling anxiety

You know what strategies have helped in the past, so use them again now. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful.

Get help if you are struggling: Hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19), and the changes it causes in your daily life, might make you feel like you don’t have control, or make you worried or scared about your health. These feelings are common. Try to speak to someone you trust such as a friend, family member or supporter.

If you do become unwell and need medical treatment, share your hospital passport or autism diagnosis so staff know the best way to support you.

If you are still feeling worried and want more help. You can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104.

Older People

Government guidance is that older people, aged 70 and over, are at increased risk of severe illness and need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures and continue to stay at home as much as possible. If you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household. Given this, it is natural for older people, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions, to feel concerned or affected by changes you have to make to your daily life. The following suggestions may help with any difficult feelings and look after your mental health:

Stay connected: draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks. Try to stay in touch with those around you, this might be over the phone, by post, or online. Here is a link to some advice for using video calls to talk to friends and family. If you have been advised to stay at home, let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. If you are isolated, you can get in touch with the Kingston Stronger Together Hub via the online form, or on 020 8547 5000 to arrange for a volunteer check in with you on a regular basis.

Get practical help: If you need practical help getting shopping or prescriptions delivered for yourself or on behalf of an older, vulnerable person, please contact the Kingston Stronger Together Hub via the online form, or on 020 8547 5000. There are volunteers supporting the delivering of food parcels and medication to Kingston residents doorsteps.

If you have a health condition, this can be a very worrying time.  Many national health helplines are still open, so if you are concerned about managing your condition, any symptoms or staying well, you could give them a call.  You can contact NHS 111 for urgent care and advice on where to get support too.

Funding to strengthen care for the vulnerable

The Government has announced £2.9 billion funding to strengthen care for the vulnerable. The funding will help patients who no longer need urgent hospital treatment to return home, making at least 15,000 beds available during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more on the government website.

Report a concern

If you are concerned about an adult you can report it on our website.


Letters to 900,000 individuals identified as being at the greatest need have been sent by the Government and outbound calls to people who haven’t responded to letters are now going out.

People living with dementia

You may feel concerned about coronavirus and how it could affect you. The Alzheimer's Society has published information on coronavirus for people affected by dementia.

If you’d like to connect and talk with other people affected by dementia, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Society online community Talking Point.

A range of information on information on dementia is also available from Alzheimer’s Research UK

If you are still feeling worried and want more help you can call the Alzheimer’s Society Helpline on 0300 222 11 22

You can also speak to a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse on Dementia UK’s Helpline, on 0800 888 6687.

A range of activities suitable for people with dementia is available from the Health Innovation Network.  

For more information about local support for older people during this time, including those with dementia, please go to the Connected Kingston COVID-19 pages.

Last Modified: 17/12/2020 16:48:48