April 21st Update – Advice And Support From The Trust

April 21st Update - Advice And Support From The Trust For All Beneficiaries

Trust Update

Lockdown Extension – Extending Our Support

Just a quick update this time to acknowledge the fact that the Government recently extended the lockdown for a further three weeks until the end of April.

Although you are probably in some kind of routine by now and the news wasn’t completely unexpected, the prospect of another three weeks in isolation may be daunting.

The staff at the Trust are all still working and are available to be contacted as usual. The Health & Wellbeing team will continue to make calls to check in with as many of you as possible and we would love to hear from you by telephone or email just to know how you are getting on and coping – hello@thalidomidetrust.org

Don’t forget we have a trained group of beneficiary volunteers who are available for a chat or to help you solve a practical problem or find a local service.

Using technology to keep in touch

The website forum is proving increasingly popular as a place to connect and share tips and information.
Join us for a chat with other beneficiaries.

If you need help getting onto the forum we can provide that help and put you in touch with one of our IT support volunteers who will guide you through the process.

Talking of IT – we know many of you are keeping in touch with family and friends through video calls and there have been requests from some of you for a chance to do that with each other. So we are planning to hold a couple of Virtual Coffee Mornings using Zoom over the next three weeks. Each will be hosted by a volunteer and a member of the Health & Wellbeing team will take part too.

The meetings will use Zoom and if you are not confident with that technology we can help you get started. The Trust will set up the Coffee Morning and send you simple instructions of how to join. Each will last about 30-45 minutes and will provide a friendly space to chat with each other. More information will be sent round by email very soon.

Lockdown and Relationships

You may have heard news reports about the rise in reported domestic violence as a result of the isolation measures. There is no doubt that these measures can put a strain on family relationships. To be clear, the household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse – or even just to get some space following an argument. If you feel at risk or suspect others are, you are encouraged to report it to the Police by calling 999.

Refuge provide advice and guidance on their website

Or you can call their National Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 2000 247.

Recently published CPS guidance for the Police indicates that it is acceptable for a person to move to another household to ‘cool down’ after an argument with a family member, as long as it is a genuine break i.e. ‘measured in days rather than hours’. So if strains are becoming unbearable it may be an option to ask a family member to move out for a while. As always you can contact the Trust to discuss your concerns and seek support and advice.

Medical Advice

It’s great news that the lockdown measures appear to be having an impact on the spread of the coronavirus. However the extension is partly because the Government doesn’t believe we are yet through the peak of the pandemic in the UK. So in this update our Medical Advisers are providing some information to remind you about the precautions you should be taking and how to look after yourself if you become unwell.

For information – we are only aware of two beneficiaries who have had Covid-19 symptoms and both have made a full recovery. Neither was tested so their infection is not confirmed.

What to do if you think you have symptoms

You may be wondering what to do if you feel you have coronavirus. It is thought only 1 in 8 people who are currently concerned actually have it, so it is unlikely, but it is sensible to follow the current guidance. Some of the guidance changes on a week by week basis but this is the current view at 15 April.

Many people who are exposed to the coronavirus will have mild symptoms. If you develop a dry persistent cough or a temperature and you live alone, the advice is to stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared. If you share your house with any others, the household will need to isolate for 14 days from the day the first person showed symptoms to prevent the risk of spreading the disease in the community.

The common symptoms are:

  • Temperature - you do not need to measure a temperature – feel if your chest or back is hot (80% of people have a temperature but this may be absent)
  • Cough, a new continuous cough. This means coughing a lot for more than an hour or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it is a lot worse than usual - 80% of people have a cough but this may be absent)
  • Fatigue (tiredness) and myalgia (aching muscles) 50%, shortness of breath 44%, headaches 34%
  • Diarrhoea and gastrointestinal symptoms (feeling sick, vomiting) 8%
  • Loss of taste and smell commonly reported (59% of patients who test positive)

It is good to remember that not everyone gets each symptom. It is the elderly and those who have problems with their immune system who are most likely not to present with a cough or temperature.


Currently only those going into hospital are able to be tested for Covid-19.

There is evidence to suggest if a test is done very early in the disease or from a nose swab that the results may be misleading. Among patients with the suspected virus who initially had a negative test, 23% tested positive when retested at a later date.

Antibody tests to check if someone has had the disease are still awaited.

What do you do if you think you have Covid-19?

Use the 111 online coronavirus service. Only phone 111 if you can’t use the online service for advice. As you would expect there are currently very high volumes of calls. If you have other illnesses you may have been given additional advice by your GP practice. If you cannot get through or are worried then phone us at the Trust.

Most people get better in a week though they may still feel tired. Some become worse from day 5 onwards. Hence, if you start to feel worse it is very important that you check you are still ok to stay at home (it is often day 5-8 typically but not always) or if your temperature is continuing after 7 days then phone for advice. Some signs of this are if you are coughing phlegm and it becomes coloured, you get more short of breath, you develop chest pain, you become cold and clammy (like someone who is about to vomit) you seem muddled or confused.

However, remember 80% (8 out of 10) of people get better after the first week. Even in these figures it is mostly those over age 80 years old who do the worst.

Vitamin D

Just a reminder also that we suggested in one update you take a Vitamin D supplement. This can help protect you against the virus and we suggested 12.5-25ug. At present for a 3 month period we would suggest you take 25ug daily.

If you do become unwell with coronavirus symptoms and are managing your symptoms at home these things can help:

  • Stay in a well ventilated room with the window open.
  • If you have a cough avoid lying on your back if you can. Some of you may be limited in your sleeping position but try to move off your back as much as possible. This could be done by positioning pillows to support your resting position.
  • Honey may be able to offer relief from your coughing. If your cough is very severe and distressing, your GP may be able to give you codeine linctus or even morphine.
  • Your body may react with a high temperature to combat the virus so it is better not to try to bring your temperature down i.e. do not take paracetamol or ibuprofen for this purpose. If you need to treat any headache or muscle ache just use paracetamol; try not to use NSAIDS (ibuprofen) for this purpose alone.
  • You may experience shortness of breath, if so keep the room cool and open windows. It will help if you try to stay calm and try relaxation techniques.

Important Advice - If you need Medical Help don’t hold back!

You may have seen in the news there are reports that people are too afraid to go to hospital if they are ill because they don’t want to put a strain on the NHS or they are scared of getting infected. As a result there has been a spike in deaths at home.

It is very important that if you feel you need intervention for any non-virus related illness you seek medical help. If you are not sure contact your GP or the Trust where you can receive advice from one of the Medical Advisors.

Coronavirus Q&A Session

We are looking into how we can facilitate an online Question and Answer Session about the Coronavirus with one of the Trust Medical Advisers and a member of the Health & Wellbeing team. More information on this will follow so watch out for further updates.
Take care of yourself – and keep safe and well!


Katy Sagoe Dr Dee Morrison MB ChB Dr Susan Brennan MBChB MRCGP
Director of Health & Wellbeing Medical Adviser Medical Adviser

How to protect your mental health while self isolating


Updated 21/4/20