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Should frontline NHS workers isolate themselves from family?

(34 Posts)
fieldofdaisies Sun 12-Apr-20 10:19:58

My husband is a paramedic and is sadly dealing with more and more cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis. He is therefore very over-exposed to the virus and is potentially putting myself and my daughter at risk of contracting it at home. We are all fit and healthy but of course there is still a risk we could be ill.
We have been wondering whether he should isolate himself from us (my daughter and myself) completely. We could go and live with my mum until this is all over. The worry is, no-one knows if that will be weeks or months!
What are other families with frontline health workers doing to reduce the risk?

OP’s posts: |
AlandAnna Sun 12-Apr-20 10:53:51

Someone I work with is doing this (from his wife who is the front line one) They are both so committed he doesn’t want to self isolate. So hard for them (newlyweds)

sunshinedaisyfatrat Sun 12-Apr-20 12:19:33

The NHS will be dealing with covid for months and months. Long after the lockdown has lifted in some form. It'll still be part of the risk of healthcare workers and will change how we work etc. I think if you plan to isolate from your family, it needs to be on the proviso that it may be for 6 months or more. Personally I'd leave than spend the 6 months or more in a hotel room next to my hospital or living alone with family elsewhere. That's no life. People will say I'm selfish but I'm sick of how NHS workers have been thrown under the bus for this.

dragonicicle Sun 12-Apr-20 12:21:28

I'm in a similar position. We still haven't decided what to do even though I've likely already exposed my family. It's so hard to know what's best. I do sympathise

ashmts Sun 12-Apr-20 12:24:10

My friend and her 9 month old have moved away from her DH for now. Me and my DP are both NHS anyway but I think I'd have made the decision to stay. He's at higher risk than I am but if something happens to one of us we'd rather not have spent the last few months living apart. Maybe if I had children I'd feel differently. It's such an individual decision, I don't think anyone could criticise for whatever you decide.

Tonemeth Sun 12-Apr-20 12:25:07

Could you follow the shielding guidelines with him? Ie he uses a different bathroom or cleans it thoroughly after each use, sleeps in a different bed, minimises time spent in same room etc? It isnt ideal (trust me!) but it's what families of those shielding are being told to do so may reduce risk?

Circletime27 Sun 12-Apr-20 12:32:48

We’re in a very similar situation and had a good chat about. We decided we’re in it together plus there wasn’t really anywhere for any of us to go and live. Our compromise is that DH showers as soon as he gets home, clothes go straight in the wash and we’re sleeping in separate beds.

Purplequalitystreet Sun 12-Apr-20 12:32:57

My DP is a paramedic too. We've decided to stay together with DS (6 months). This could still go on for ages. Also, our parents are either high risk or caring for someone even more vulnerable, so it's not a good idea to move in with them.

DP is taking his uniform to work and getting changed in the locker room, so he's not wearing it in the house. He has a drawstring bag for his uniform and puts it straight in the wash when he gets home. Then showers before he goes anywhere near DS. We've also moved DS into is own room to reduce the risk of him getting it.

manicinsomniac Sun 12-Apr-20 13:07:01

Surely at this point you are more of a risk to your mum than your husband is to you? Unless she's under 65 I guess.

I think you could go and stay somewhere by yourself (with your daighter) if you are worried but not with your mum.

Do paramedics have proper PPE. If they do, the risk to you should be quite low? I think?

twinnywinny14 Sun 12-Apr-20 13:14:11

My friend is in the same position as you. So far her DH who is a paramedic has been staying at home as normal, but they have decided to isolate further as the peak is approaching, not because of the risk being higher necessarily but to avoid the risk of getting poorly with it and needing hospital admission. I think it’s a personal decision and one that a couple/family need to make together xx

MeadowHay Sun 12-Apr-20 13:34:08

Covid will be a threat until a vaccination programme is rolled out. That could well be not for a couple of YEARS, depending on how things go. I doubt anyone would be willing to live separately from their families for say 2 years if that's how long it takes to roll out vaccination to healthcare workers? In which case I don't see the point of doing it for a limited time period now, it doesn't reduce your overall risk.

FWIW DH is front-line NHS staff and we certaintly aren't doing that. There is me and him, and toddler DD who is in the 'vulnerable' category. He is likely to only have fairly limited exposure to covid patients in his role though and he does have access to the correct PPE. At this point I think DD may be most likely to bring it into the home as she's attending nursery a few days a week where the children are all children of the hospital staff, when some of those staff won't have access to the grade of PPE that DH does.

QuaverQueen Sun 12-Apr-20 13:50:25

This could go on for ages, I’ve got a co-worker that’s moved into a hotel as his wife is one of the shielded group and it’s a pretty miserable existence.

I’m also living with someone in the shielded group but haven’t moved at as yet am just staying in different rooms to DH though we do have to share a kitchen / bathroom. It’s far from ideal and I may need to move out if the situation worsens.

There’s a hell of a lot of front line NHS staff OP, where do you imagine they’d all go?

MozzchopsThirty Sun 12-Apr-20 14:16:06

I'm doing this from Tuesday as I'm going to work in ITU
I won't see my boyfriend or children until I'm released from there and have isolated for 7 days

Could be weeks, could be months! It's heartbreaking

AnyFucker Sun 12-Apr-20 14:29:56


We are following all the guidelines but I am still living with my H and dc. We still eat, sleep and live together normally. I will have been exposed many times even before full PPE was introduced.

Whatever you do will have to be maintained for potentially many, many months. All these people shielding will still be at risk at the end of the current 3 month timeline. In fact more so, because when this lockdown is lifted (as it must be) more infections will start to circulate again the community

There is no easy answer here. We cannot eradicate risk. We just have to make our own assessment of it. Personally, I think it is too much to expect of me bearing in mind both myself and immediate family are in low risk groups.

@MozzchopsThirty I have beed reading your posts over the last few days and you sound terrified. You will feel better once you get started, I promise. Unless someone in your nuclear family is in a high risk group think carefully about isolating yourself from them for God knows how long. Seeing no one but work colleaugues and very ill people is a recipe for disaster for you. Believe me, keeping as much normality for you as is possible is very important right now if you are to do a good job ( and keep your mental health relatively intact)

MozzchopsThirty Sun 12-Apr-20 14:32:32

@AnyFucker thank you
I'll be doing lots of self care and I'm planning holidays for Xmas time to keep me busy and focussed

I have dd here so not completely alone but it's going to be hard

NurseJaques Sun 12-Apr-20 14:35:05

This is going to go on for months, possibly years. Are people really planning to separate from their partners/children for that long?!sad

Also, without a vaccine (that is not guaranteed, is a long way off, will take so long to roll out that a large % will have already had virus) the only realistic exit strategy is for everyone to be exposed to the virus...

NurseJaques Sun 12-Apr-20 14:36:22

@AnyFucker had already said it better than me blush

AnyFucker Sun 12-Apr-20 14:38:40

Good luck @MozzchopsThirty

You will get used to your new normal very quickly. Currently, my life revolves around work and then recovering from work just to start again. That is it, for the foreseeable. I fought against it at first and cried buckets in the process. Doing that with no outlet at all would have been just plain cruel.

Kaykay066 Sun 12-Apr-20 14:39:15

That’s fine if you’re able to do that, single parent nurse frontline as work on a ward where we look after patients with covid-19. I also have an asthmatic son. Kids can’t go to dads to live as he’s police in custody so also coming into contact so as much as I would like to keep it away from my kids I can’t. Except for never wearing uniform out of the ward - we change there always. Showering as soon as home - no separate bathroom and making sure my infection control at work is as scrupulous as it can be I have to hope that will keep us all safe. One girl is living in her caravan and husband and kids in house.

It’s horrible for us all, worrying about catching it ourselves:passing it on, and for how long this will go on, we don’t know ☹️

AnyFucker Sun 12-Apr-20 14:42:02

@NurseJaques I totally agree with what you said. A vaccine is a long way off and there is precendent for any development of one to be abandoned anyway as the virus reaches a peak in the community.

WorriedNHSer Sun 12-Apr-20 14:44:19

I strongly considered it but decided in the end that the impact of separation for potentially a year or more would be worse for my young children than the risk of catching covid. I do shower and change clothes as soon as I get home. If I was a consultant anaesthetist with older children I might have decided otherwise perhaps.

cantcalm Sun 12-Apr-20 14:46:20

Dfriend is considering doing exactly this as a GP - all other household high risk and shielding . Said she was seriously considering sleeping on the surgery sofa for as long as it takes as she can’t find an alternative - not entirely sure she was joking sadly .

Parker231 Sun 12-Apr-20 14:47:23

DH is a doctor - we’ve decided he is going continue to live at home with us (although with the hours he’s working we’re not seeing much of him).

MrsElijahMikaelson1 Sun 12-Apr-20 14:49:04

DH has only one set of clothes that he wears to and from the hospital-straight into scrubs when he gets there. Operates/dealsWith patients all day. Comes home, through into the back garden, strips off there (sorry neighbours) clothes into bag, which I then put straight onto a hot wash, shoes/belts etc wiped with antibacterial stuff, then he runs through the house and showers. Tbh we don’t have anywhere else he could stay and as people have said this will be months on end, so we try and stay as safe as possible. That’s all anyone can do. You have to do whatever you think and feel its best for you💐

1300cakes Sun 12-Apr-20 14:52:17

I don't think it's a realistic solution for most. Send loved one to live in a hotel or tent in the backyard for... years? How would most families afford a hotel? And not fair to impose on other friends or family especially if they are vulnerable, eg, grandparents.

The worry is, no-one knows if that will be weeks or months!

Actually we know for sure it won't be weeks. It will be many months at least if not years.

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