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Do I need to self isolate from my family if they're self isolating with me?

PaulaMKPaulaMK Posts: 2

I started chemo 2 weeks ago and although I've not received a letter from the government, have taken the decision to self-isolate for 12 weeks. I've been keeping distance from my husband and kids for 10 days and am hoping that by the end of this week I might be able to be a bit physically closer to them, whilst obviously taking usual precautions around hands/ food prep and sharing/ bathrooms etc.

As they've stayed away from anyone else for 2 weeks, will I be able to have occasional physical contact with them - a big now and then, once the 2 weeks is up or do I need to avoid this for the full course of my chemo?

Looking ahead, when the kids return to school and my husband returns to work, am I then going to have to be even more strict over self isolation (literally not being in a room with them at all)?



  • Blanka_CBlanka_C Posts: 406 Community Admin

    Hi @PaulaMK, welcome to the Community, so glad you've found us. :)

    Our Oncology Nurse, @LizzyB73 might be able to give you some advice. I've tagged her in this discussion and she'll respond as soon as possible.

    In the meantime, just wanted to let you know that we held a webinar with Liz and @KarinSieger, our Emotional Wellbeing Advisor on cancer and the coronavirus this Monday. We answered questions from our community and covered topics like self-isolation, being at risk, treatment plans and mental health. You might find useful to watch it, you can access the full talk in this thread:

    Stay safe. I hope you and your family are well.



  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse



    Thanks for getting in touch. Hope your first chemotherapy treatment went well for you. It is vitally important that for the recommended 12 weeks duration you are shielded as much as possible.

    You ideally should rigorously follow the shielding measures outlined here:

    • Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
    • Do not leave your house, except to attend essential medical appointments (please speak to your hospital team to determine which appointments are absolutely essential).
    • Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.
    • Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
    • Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet and social media.
    • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

    While the rest of your household are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves, we would expect them to do what they can to support you in shielding and to stringently follow guidance on social distancing.

    1. Minimise as much as possible the time other family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
    2. Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, you should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
    3. If you do share a toilet and bathroom with others, it is important that they are cleaned after use every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.
    4. If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they are present. If you can, you should take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
    5. We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

    If the rest of your household stringently follow advice on social distancing and minimise the risk of spreading the virus within the home by following the advice above, there is no need for them to also shield alongside you.

    I can appreciate how difficult this is all is for you right now but do get in touch again if we can support you any further

    Best wishes


    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
  • PaulaMKPaulaMK Posts: 2

    Thanks Liz - I had read this guidance on the government website but felt it wasn't answering my specific question. My family are self isolating alongside me - we are receiving food deliveries and help from friends and family n order that we don't need to go out and about. The only time they venture out is to walk the dog, and then wear gloves and wash hands as soon as they come in....so my question was, with those additional precautions, do I need to shield to the extent being suggested in the guidance or can I spend time in the same room as them to try and establish some normality while we're all isolating to this level. I totally appreciate that if they return to 'normal' school and work routines that I will need to isolate to the level outline above.

  • LizzyB73LizzyB73 Posts: 112 Oncology Specialist Nurse

    HI @PaulaMK

    you can spend time in the same room but ideally socially distancing as much as possible.

    Its a really tough time but you will get through it 💕

    wishing you well and stay safe


    Liz Bradley
    Oncology Specialist Nurse | Oncology Service Manager @ Springfield Hospital
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