Cocooning ISL Video 01 – What is it and how do I do it?

28th March 2020

This HSE guidance is for medically vulnerable people who live in their own home and is in place for 2 weeks from March 27th 2020.

What does cocooning mean?

It means measures to protect people who are over 70 years of age or those who are extremely medically vulnerable by minimising all interaction between them and others.

What do we mean by extremely medically vulnerable?

  1. People aged 70 years or older
  2. Solid organ transplant recipients
  3. People with specific cancers:
    – who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    – cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    – people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    – people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    – people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  4. People with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  5. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  6. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  7. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
    Cocooning is for your personal protection and if you are unsure whether or not you fall into one of the categories of extremely medically vulnerable people listed above, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.

How do I cocoon?

  1. Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  2. Do not leave your house.
  3. Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.
  4. Do not go out for shopping and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
  5. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  6. Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
  7. Ensure you keep phones/devices charged, and have credit on your phone so that you can stay connected.

We know that some of these measures will be difficult. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others and participating in your normal activities remotely from your home without physical contact with other people.

How can you get assistance with foods and medicines if you are cocooning?

In the first instance, family, friends and neighbours can support you once you adhere to cocooning guidelines and they adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Where possible use online services.

Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected.
If these options are not available to you, the Government is putting in place assistance through the local authorities, working with the voluntary sector services, to ensure you can have access to food, essential household supplies and medicines. Each local authority will publish contact details.

ALONE is providing a telephone support line that you can contact via text or IRIS. The helpline is open seven days a week from 8am – 8pm, for all older people and their families to contact if they would like any advice, reassurance or additional support: 0818 222 024. This support line is also open to extremely medically vulnerable people.

What should you do if you have hospital and GP appointments if you are cocooning?

We advise everyone to access medical assistance remotely if possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or specialist to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and determine which of these are absolutely essential.

It is possible that your hospital may need to cancel or postpone some clinics and appointments. You should contact your hospital or clinic to confirm appointments.

What should you do if you develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) while you are cocooning?

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are fever (high temperature), cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

If you develop the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) contact your GP. Do this as soon as you get symptoms. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital unless you are told to do so. In an emergency, contact 112 or 999 if you are seriously ill.

If you prepare a single hospital bag. This should include your next of kin or emergency contact, a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency), any information on your planned care appointments and things you would need for an overnight stay (snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush, medication etc.). If you have an advanced care plan, please include that.