Today, the Government updated their guidance for those who are classified as 'clinically extremely vulnerable.' This included adding adults who have Down's syndrome to the shielding list.

The new guidance comes into force on Thursday 5th November and advises people who are classified as being most at risk to stay at home as much as possible but confirms that they can still go out for exercise.

Adults who have Down's syndrome are now classified as clinically extremely vulnerable and are strongly advised to shield. Children who have Down's syndrome are not classified as clinically extremely vulnerable and families do not need to follow the shielding guidance.

The Government also announced that support will be reinstated for those who are advised to shield. 

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“Adding adults who have Down’s syndrome to the shielding list could lead to even higher levels of loneliness for people in this group. The risk of catching COVID-19 must be balanced with people’s well-being. The Government must make sure guidance for individuals and social care providers is accessible and gets the balance right for both people’s physical and mental health. 

“We are deeply concerned that this new measure could also lead to further problems for people with Down’s syndrome when accessing healthcare, including more inappropriate ‘Do not attempt CPR’ notices being placed on individual’s medical files. The clinical frailty scale must not be used to assess people with a learning disability for medical treatment, including people who have Down’s syndrome. NHS England and the Care Quality Commission need to keep a close eye on this and make sure healthcare professionals follow the guidance.” 

Read Department of Health and Social Care’s announcement in full here:

Read Mencap’s latest easy-read information about the coronavirus pandemic here:

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For further information or to arrange interviews with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, contactMencap’smedia team on:

Notes to editors:

About Mencap

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.Mencapworks to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.Mencapsupports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they

For advice and information about learning disability andMencapservices in your area, contactMencap’s FreephoneLearning Disability Helplineon 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or     

What is a learning disability?

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.