Father holding his little baby girl and helping her to wash hands

How you can protect yourself and the vulnerable around you

We understand that this is a stressful time for older people, patients and their families, and other care givers. To help you protect yourself and those around you, Nutricia is sharing a few simple rules from the World Health Organization (WHO). If you are caring for, and in contact with, an older person or a child or adult with an underlying health condition, it is even more important to responsibly safeguard your health and follow these recommendations, since together we can limit the spread of the coronavirus.

1. Wash hands regularly

The coronavirus is spread by human contact. Therefore as a parent or carer of a patient, or an older person, properly washing your hands with soap and water or a hand rub for more than 20 seconds is still the best way to protect against it. So, make it a regular routine before mealtimes, when coming in from outdoors and before and after coming into contact with other people.


What does it mean for you? This will help eliminate any traces of the virus that may be on your hands so they won’t infect you and anyone around you. In addition, please enforce hand washing for anyone entering into the same space as you – this can include family, helpers, the postman, etc. If you’re a carer, it’s very important to explain to the person you’re looking after why the washing of hands is crucial. WHO’s handwashing guidelines: https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

2. Keep a social distance

We all want to be near our family members and those we care for to comfort them during these stressful times. If we are not part of the same household and living together, it is recommended that we avoid non essential visits to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

If you do need to leave your house, avoid contact and maintain a safe distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) from other people. Because the virus is carried and passed-on by people, social distancing is proven to reduce the spread of the virus.

You should check government guidelines daily to ensure you are up to date with the latest advice.


What does it mean for you? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay in contact with your friends and family. Try to find other means to communicate, such as by phone or video chat.

If you are a carer of an older person, please take the time to teach them how to use these communications technologies as it can help provide them with some friendly contact and support.

3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

We tend to touch different surfaces throughout the day that may have the coronavirus on them. Once on our hands, the easiest way for it to enter our body is through our eyes, mouth or nose. We can’t avoid touching surfaces, but we can avoid touching our faces and limit the potential passage of the virus into our body.

That’s why it helps to have the most-touched surfaces disinfected – doorknobs, tabletops, mobile phones, remote controls, steering wheels, handrails etc.

Also try and avoid touching your face, it’s not easy but can be done if you pay attention to your gestures.

You should check government guidelines daily to ensure you are up to date with the latest advice.


What does it mean for you? Surfaces can be contaminated with the coronavirus and once the virus is on our hands it can easily be transferred into the body via the mouth, nose or eyes when we touch our face.

If you are a parent or carer of a patient and looking after someone who doesn’t have access to this vital information, please explain to them why it is important.

4. Practice good respiratory hygiene

Make sure you and the people around your loved one or patient all follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then disposing of used tissues immediately and washing your hands.


What does it mean for you? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect yourself and the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and coronavirus.

5. Feeling unwell? Seek medical care early

Vulnerable groups, including children and adults with underlying health conditions, and older persons, who are showing early signs of the coronavirus, such as a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, should seek medical attention immediately by calling the NHS service on 111, but stay away from the hospital or pharmacy to avoid further spread of the disease. It is best to self-isolate and follow the directions of your local health authority.


What does it mean for you? National and local authorities will have the most up-to-date information on the situation in your area. Calling before visiting your healthcare provider will allow them to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent further spreading of the virus.

If you are a parent, or carer of a patient, but are feeling the symptoms, it’s better to self-isolate than risk passing on the coronavirus.

6. Prepare food safely and hygienically

You should continue to follow normal food safety guidelines. Wash your hands frequently, including before preparing food and before eating, in line with government advice, to limit the spread of coronavirus.


What does it mean for you? Because we cook for ourselves, our family and as a carer often for our patient, it’s even more important for the person who’s preparing the food to follow safety procedures while cooking.

In case of tube feeding always wash your hands with soap and water before handling tube feeding equipment. Always use the open pack of feed within 24 hours (see the label instructions) and change the administration sets (giving set) every 24 hours.

7. Stay informed and follow advice

With the explosion of coverage on mass media and social media, it is very important for you to be aware of the correct information on the coronavirus outbreak and that there is fake news circulating which will only increase your anxiety. The most reliable and up-to-date information available is on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Seek advice from trustworthy, reliable sources for you and your loved ones.

For more information, please visit:


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority, as national and local authorities will have the most up to date information for your region. If you have any questions or concerns, seek the advice of a healthcare professional.