Facial Palsy UK’s Response to Coronavirus

The Coronavirus situation is rapidly changing. Here’s what we are doing to respond to the needs of those we support, our supporters, staff and volunteers.

We will heed current Public Health England (PHE) and Government advice and take measures as needed to protect the best interests of our clients, supporters, volunteers and staff.

Support Groups

Please be assured that we are taking the UK Coronavirus situation very seriously and are regularly reviewing the possible impact on our services. All face-to-face support groups have been temporarily suspended and we will regularly review the situation to protect those attending and the volunteers who run them. In the event of the lockdown being lifted, everyone should check the website to see if a support group is still running just before travelling. This is a fast-changing situation and emails do not always reach people in time. We are looking at other ways to offer peer support which will probably take the form of Zoom video chat support. More details to follow.

Support for children

We are endeavouring to create an online version of our children’s book as a free download during the crisis. More information to follow.

Facial palsy and coronavirus

Medical Advisory Board statement:

We have had a number of enquiries about COVID-19, and in particular whether there is any evidence for increased risks to those affected by facial paralysis. We are monitoring the government advice and published research, but are not aware of any data that indicates any specific increased risks. If you are taking steroids for facial palsy please see additional information below. However, as the virus accesses the body via moist surfaces such as the eye and mouth, theoretically there are reasons to be extra careful with hand hygiene. People who may touch their face more regularly than average include those who have to regularly apply eye lubrication, have a watery eye, or have difficulty eating/dribbling. Regular hand washing and the use of disposable tissues is recommended for everyone to minimise disease transmission.

We cannot offer individual medical advice and suggest you seek advice on specific concerns about COVID-19 and your medical conditions from your doctor. There are the NHS guidelines for COVID-19 at this link– https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

Steroid treatment in acute onset facial paralysis

Medical Advisory Board statement:

The recommended management of Bell’s Palsy is for the administration of oral steroids for 10-14 days [1]. In light of the current COVID-19 virus pandemic, we have been asked about the safety of oral steroids in those diagnosed with acute onset facial paralysis. The effect of giving steroids to those patients with COVID-19 is not known. The virus has a long incubation period where a person may not display symptoms, therefore steroids may be prescribed without anyone being aware that there was an infection. It is possible that this will put those infected at risk of worse outcomes if their immune system is compromised [2].

There is evidence that higher risk patient groups, such as the elderly and those with significant medical issues such as lung disease are at greater risk.

As with all medical treatments, the balance of risk and benefit has to be weighed up in a discussion between the doctor and patient. A pragmatic approach for those who decide to take steroids is to self-isolate so that they may be at a lower risk if encountering the virus whilst their immune system is compromised.

Reference

  1. Nice Guidance on the management of Bell’s Palsy (Last revised May 2019). https://cks.nice.org.uk/bells-palsy#!management
  2. Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection when novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected. 2020 World Health Organization. WHO. https://www.who.int/publications-detail/clinical-management-of-severe-acute-respiratory-infection-when-novel-coronavirus-(ncov)-infection-is-suspected

Family Days

A Family Day was planned for 11 July 2020 at Eureka! in Halifax. We will monitor the situation as to whether this still goes ahead.

Shop orders

We have suspended sending out shop orders until further notice. You will have the option to receive a refund if you prefer not to wait for an order.

Great North Run

We have four places for the Great North Run which normally need purchasing before the end of June. As we face an uncertain future we will not actively promote these places until we know more.

Supporters/Fundraisers

Thank you for your continued and much valued support. If you require advice about the events you are organising, your own fundraising activity or events you are participating in, please contact our Fundraising Team via email fundraising@facialpalsy.org.uk or call 0300 030 9333 and we will be pleased to offer support as best we can.

If you have collected sponsors on the condition of completing a specific activity which has been cancelled then donors are entitled to ask for a refund. They should contact JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving if donations were made via these platforms.

Volunteers

However you volunteer, if you are worried, have any underlying health conditions or feel you should take extra care during the current situation, please do not feel that you will be letting us down if you choose to step back.  Please contact us on volunteers@facialpalsy.org.uk if you have any questions. The safety and well-being of our volunteers remain paramount.

Thank you for your understanding during this time, you are an amazing group of people who we value very much.

Staff

We are now operating temporarily with just one member of staff and are continuing with a scaled-down operation of our service. We are taking all necessary measures to ensure that we are able to deliver our online, email and telephone support during this difficult period. We cannot send leaflets or merchandise out in the post during the crisis. There may be delayed responses to enquiries depending on staff levels and their family’s health.

As a final note, running events bring in a good level of income for us through the spring and summer months so we will see a decline in giving. These are uncertain times. However, we have robust financial planning in place and expect to weather this immediate storm as our overheads have always been low. There will be a financial impact though, particularly as more charities will turn to grant givers to replace this income in the place of running events, so we expect grant income to be more difficult to obtain.

The best way to help us is by small monthly donations but we appreciate not everyone is in the situation to commit to this right now. If you are able to give, this is the link:

https://www.facialpalsy.org.uk/donate-to-facial-palsy-uk/

Thank you for your support and understanding at what is a difficult and worrying time for everyone.

 

First added: 15 March 2020

Last updated: 27 March 2020

Last reviewed: 27-03-2020    ||    Next review due: 15-04-2020