Wales’ first regional helpline to support people who are self-isolating has been launched in Cwm Taf Morgannwg (CTM).
The new seven day a week service has been set up in partnership by the CTM local authorities, County Voluntary Councils, the CTM Regional Partnership Board, CTM University Health Board and Public Health Wales. People living in Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf or Bridgend can call the helpline with their worries and concerns if they are asked to self-isolate by NHS Wales’ Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) team.
The ‘CTM Self-Isolation helpline’ has been set up after feedback from the Test, Trace and Protect team in CTM showed people living in the region had many questions around self-isolation and the support available. This is coupled with concerns from organisations across the UK that isolation may put disabled, vulnerable and older people at risk. This is in addition to having a negative impact on the general public’s mental and physical wellbeing.
A contact number for the ‘CTM Self-Isolation helpline’ will be sent by text, letter, or given out over the phone to anybody who is contact traced or tests positive for COVID-19. When people call the phone number, a member of the friendly helpline team will talk to them to find out what support they need. This could include advice around the latest COVID-19 guidance; links to relevant information or signposting to a relevant local support service.
For example, somebody from Bridgend who is experiencing loneliness may be put in touch with a local Bridgend befriending service to ensure they have somebody to talk to throughout their time at home. While the helpline is a service for people who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, there are many other support services available across CTM for people who need support during the pandemic.
People are asked to contact their local County Voluntary Council or local authority to find out more.
Rachel Rowlands, Chair of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Regional Partnership Board, said:
“Testing positive for COVID-19 or being contact traced to someone who has tested positive raises all sorts of questions for people and can often come as a shock. The new Self-Isolation helpline gives people the chance to check their understanding of the self-isolation guidance and be connected to the right support so they can self-isolate safely, protecting themselves and others.”
Prof Kelechi Nnoaham, Executive Director of Public Health at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said:
“Limiting the spread of infection in our communities is of paramount importance if we are to save lives and protect the NHS.
“Lots of work and research has been done to develop better treatments and even a potential vaccine. However, at the moment, we are still in a position where cases of COVID-19 are still circulating widely, so if people test positive for the virus or they are a contact of somebody who has COVID-19, it’s absolutely vital they self-isolate.
“We know self-isolation isn’t straight forward for many people, particularly if they are worried about buying food, missing work or feeling lonely. The CTM Self-Isolation helpline provides people with direct access to a very friendly and accommodating team who are ready to help them with any support they need; whether that is questions around the latest guidance or access to a local service.
“This should reassure people that if they do need to self-isolate, they won’t be alone, and if they require additional help, the helpline will be there for them right the way through their self-isolation period.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Intelligence gathered by CTM TTP programme
A rapid collection of softer intelligence on COVID beliefs and attitudes was undertaken, collating feedback from backward contact tracing activity and anecdotes shared by members of the TTP programme in CTM. The findings indicate that there was considerable confusion about self-isolation and the availability of support, particularly for contacts. These unanswered questions led to non-compliance with COVID measures. This highlighted the need for ready access to reliable information, communicated in person at the right time.