People who are identified as being part of vulnerable group population include; people with Learning Disabilities, people living with Dementia, people living with Mental Health Difficulties and people identified within the shielding category as extremely vulnerable.
Vulnerable groups are at greater risk of morbidity and mortality than the general population. These greater risks for people may lead to premature death. Within this population there is a higher risk of co-morbidities including respiratory conditions, with higher incidence of asthma, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. This evidence suggests that this vulnerable groups population may be significantly impacted by COVID-19.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- A new, continuous cough or worsening of an existing cough and/or fever
- temperature higher than 37.8 or skin that feels hot to touch on the chest or back
- loss of smell or taste (anosmia)
Alongside this, other symptoms may be present:
- Breathlessness – normal number of breaths per minute is 12-20 – you may notice this because the person cannot speak in full sentences, struggles to eat or drink normally, is more distressed when lying down
- Fatigue or feeling very tired/having less energy – you may notice this because the person engages less, sleeps more, moves less
- Headaches – as with any pain you may notice changes in behaviour, agitation, rocking and other features well known to you when the person you care for is in pain
- Sore throat – may cause refusal to eat or drink, drinking more, massaging throat
- Aches and pains – you may notice this again because the person moves less or by changes in behaviour caused by pain and distress.
- Changes in skin appearance – if the person has a fever this may be clammy and hot or clammy and cold. The skin may be very pale or very flushed.
- Change in smell and taste – you may notice distaste for foods that were previously liked
Refer to individual pain or distress tools for example, the DISDAT and ABBEY Pain Scale.