Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Parkinson’s
The current outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is an illness caused by a new strain of the virus. We understand that you may be concerned about this virus and have many questions. We have tried to answer as many as we can for you in this letter.
We have written to you because you are considered at risk with COVID19 if you have a chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease. COVID-19 can affect your lungs and airways. Complications can develop for some people with underlying conditions. You may have concerns if you are living with Parkinson’s, or you help to support someone with the condition.
We have tried to answer some common questions. However, as COVID19 is a new virus, facts and guidance are still emerging and changing.
Parkinson’s UK have produced advice that they will update. You can find these here: https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/news/understanding-coronavirus-andparkinsons
You should also follow the instructions from the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
As the situation changes you must follow government guidelines to protect yourself, your family and the NHS staff who care for you. How can I prepare for COVID-19 (coronavirus)? Take the following steps or ask your carers to help: Contact your doctor and request any necessary medications. If you can do this online then this will help support your GP to reduce their workload. Have enough household supplies and groceries to stay home for a period of time. Download telecommunication applications that enable video messaging on your mobile phone or tablet, for remote consultation with your doctor and care team.
What are the symptoms?
- COVID-19 usually includes a fever (high temperature), a dry cough and feeling short of breath. In some cases, this can lead to complications, including a type of pneumonia.
Is there any treatment?
- At present there are no medications that can treat the virus. The best way to manage if you have symptoms is to rest, take paracetamol to help with your symptoms. The current advice is to avoid taking ibuprofen for symptoms but if you need to take it for another condition then continue.
What should I do if I show symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
- Do not visit a surgery or clinic, as this could spread the virus and may mean they have to close. Tell your carers and try to isolate yourself from others as best you can. If you get a fever or develop unexpected and continuous coughing, call 111 NHS or in an emergency 999. Ensure they know you have a condition that places you at risk. You can also contact your GP, they often have advice on their website about the best way to contact them. Tell your care agency and any carers that arrive at your house.
Do I need to self-isolate and if so, how will I get support?
- As you are at higher risk, as with Parkinson’s, you should ensure that you strictly follow the social distancing guidelines, which at the moment include staying at home. It is very important that you try to avoid the infection. This includes any medical visits unless your doctor assesses you and tells you that they are absolutely necessary. For the time being, limit personal contact to those who live in the same household or those who are essential to your care.
People who do need to be in close contact with you should also strictly follow the social distancing guidelines to reduce risk of bringing infection into your home. They may need to help you with shopping and picking up medical supplies. The Government has provided Guidance on Social Distancing which you can access through the NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/). It has useful advice for older people and vulnerable adults who need help with care.
If your main carer is unable to assist you for any reason, contact your local authority for help see https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council. We have put in contact details at the end of this letter.
If you have a professional care worker who becomes unable to support you, contact the care agency first for guidance. If the agency cannot provide alternative support, contact your local authority for help.
What should I do if I am a carer for someone with Parkinson’s?
- Please continue to provide support as long as you are free of the virus symptoms and have not been in recent close contact with anyone who has the symptoms.
- Take extra care with hygiene – see the Government's guidelines on social distancing for carer advice. It is particularly important to consider hygiene before and after supporting someone with Parkinson’s to eat and drink, also when assisting them with moving from one location to another.
- Alternative care may need to be arranged if you become unable to offer support, especially if the person with Parkinson’s is unable to manage daily routines without your help. You should contact your local authority for help (https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council).
- Your external carers must take extra care. Try to limit them to essential care only that can’t be done by your family. Ensure they have good hand washing facilities and are wearing gloves and aprons. If you are unwell you must inform the agency urgently and not admit the carer to your house unless it is an emergency. You should also check to see if your carer is unwell when they arrive. If they are you should not admit them to your house and contact the agency urgently.
Can I still work?
- If you wish to continue working, or are being asked to by your employer, then you should make every effort to work from home if possible. If this is not possible, then you and your employer should ensure that social distancing rules are adhered to strictly by everyone in the workplace, particularly regarding shared environments and facilities. Please contact your community nurse or consultant if you need more advice regarding this. What else should I think about?
If you haven’t already done so, now is an important time to talk to your family about your wishes should you become ill and not be able to speak for yourself. If you have an advanced decision plan you should review this and update it. You should also discuss what might happen should your family members become ill.
We understand that this may be a frightening time for people with Parkinson’s and their families. We are working hard to make sure you get the best care we can offer whilst protecting everyone from the virus as much as we can.
Who can I contact for help?
- You can contact your community nurse team
- Nurse Team
- Cornwall Nurse Service
- 01209 318048
You should follow the NHS guidelines to call 111 if you are so unwell you are unable to carry out your daily activities or 999 in an emergency.
Other forms of support
Parkinson’s UK - Parkinson’s UK helpline on 0808 800 0303.
Kay Lillie, Parkinson’s Local Adviser Covering Bude, Launceston, Callington,Saltash, Torpoint & Rame Head. firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0344 225 9839
Jo Sampson, Parkinson’s Local Adviser Covering the rest of Cornwall email@example.com Tel: 0344 225 9824
Parkinson’s UK Cornwall - https://parkinsonscornwall.com/
Consider joining the Parkinson’s UK Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/parkinsonsukcommunitygroup
Cornwall Council: firstname.lastname@example.org Adult Social Services number 0300 123 4131
Neurology Care Advice Service Tel: 01209 318 106 To support people to manage their condition
Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service
The Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service is able available to provide ongoing support if you have received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
What does the Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service provide?
Our Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service will provide you with an assessment and nursing care to meet your personal needs. They will provide you and your family or carers with up to date information on the condition. They will help you all to make informed decisions about your future care so treatment can be tailored to your individual needs. Throughout the condition, from diagnosis onwards they will encourage you to play an active role in managing the condition.
They will work closely with your Consultant and GP. They will also refer you to other services who may be required to support your ongoing care. Our Parkinson’s specialist nurses also work closely pharmacists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. They also work with community matrons, district nurses and other specialist nurses, together with other agencies such as Adult Social Care and Parkinson’s UK.
Our Parkinson’s Nurse Specialists will monitor and recommend medication changes with your Consultant and GP. They may be able to prescribe Parkinson’s related medication for you. They will use their specialist expertise to ensure you gain the maximum benefit from your medication.
For more details of our Parkinson’s Services, please see our service leaflet
Accessing our Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service
- Our service is available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Calls to the Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service are collected and prioritised twice a week. The Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Service can also be accessed via the generic email – email@example.com
- We review most people with Parkinson’s at nurse led clinics held at various locations across the county. In some circumstances some reviews take place via home visit
- Further information and support can be accessed through Parkinson’s UK through the following link https://parkinsonscornwall.com/
Speech and Language Therapy For People With Parkinson’s Disease
Our Adult Speech and Language Therapy Service sees many people who have difficulties in speech, communication and/or swallowing arising from Parkinson’s Disease.
The earliest sign of difficulty is often a loss of loudness of speech. You may also notice a lack of melody or intonation in your voice and a mild reduction in the clarity of your speech. You may experience swallowing difficulties at a later stage.
Everyone is at different stages of Parkinson’s Disease and has different needs, to ensure we are able to support you we offer a range of interventions ranging from intensive treatment (Lee Silverman Voice treatment), to more general support and advice aimed at helping you and your family to cope more easily with your difficulty.
9am – 5pm Monday to Friday