Shielding stories - an insight into how vulnerable people coped in North Somerset

Older and more vulnerable people have told Healthwatch how they coped with coronavirus with many admitting their mental health had suffered and they often felt lonely.
shielding stories

Others told us they felt confused by government advice especially as around a quarter of the people in North Somerset who we spoke to said they didn’t use digital technology and couldn’t always find up-to-date information easily.

One respondant said; "They [government?] said this week there’d be more information but there haven’t been updates. It was a huge mess when we got letters. They’re all generic. My partner got his roughly 6 weeks ago but it still says shield for 12 weeks. From today?"

More than 120 people called our support line in April and May this year to ask for help with getting medical supplies or food and we were able to direct more than 100 to the help they needed from mutual aid and other community groups.

Understanding needs of those who are shielding

We then contacted these callers, many over 70 who were shielding, to see if they were able to tell us more about their experiences to help us understand their health and wellbeing needs and how they had coped during lockdown.

Nearly half of the people said communication about changes to services during lockdown was poor or unsatisfactory. But once they had contacted their surgery for help, or to make an appointment, many people told us the service they had received was good or excellent.


We have made a series of recommendations about how people could have better access to advice in the future and how better communication especially offline would really help people feel less anxious or lonely. In addition, making digital start-up guides more easily available to get people online was suggested as well as boosting services that help people tackle feelings of isolation and depression and making sure these are better publicised.


North Somerset stories of shielding and self-isolating. July 2020

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