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Supermarket shopping - proof you're a vulnerable person?

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uknickuknick Forumite
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My partner has bad asthma; so bad in fact, she couldn't get enough breath to complete a spirometry test a couple of weeks ago.  One can understand why she doesn't want to go anywhere public until COVID-19 is not such a threat.  In addition to this she's also gluten intolerant.

I'm now doing her shopping for her.  Up until now it's not really been an issue.  But, I've just come back from doing the weekly shop and after about 2 hours queuing, shopping and paying for it I still couldn't get any gluten free bread, pasta, stuffing or gravy granules.  Therefore, I'm thinking of shopping during the vulnerable people time slots next week.

Last week, just in case this situation did arise, I asked my local Sainsbury's customer service what was needed to prove I'm shopping for a vulnerable person.  The answer I got was not very clear, so I suggested I have a picture of the asthma medication and they seemed to think this would be OK.

But, I'm still not sure.  Has anybody got experience of this? 
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  • edited 27 March at 3:57PM
    elsienelsien Forumite
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    edited 27 March at 3:57PM
    If she's on the extra vulnerable list, she should have had an email or a letter from her GP. I would imagine that would be sufficient proof. 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • UndervaluedUndervalued Forumite
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    uknick said:
    My partner has bad asthma; so bad in fact, she couldn't get enough breath to complete a spirometry test a couple of weeks ago.  One can understand why she doesn't want to go anywhere public until COVID-19 is not such a threat.  In addition to this she's also gluten intolerant.

    I'm now doing her shopping for her.  Up until now it's not really been an issue.  But, I've just come back from doing the weekly shop and after about 2 hours queuing, shopping and paying for it I still couldn't get any gluten free bread, pasta, stuffing or gravy granules.  Therefore, I'm thinking of shopping during the vulnerable people time slots next week.

    Last week, just in case this situation did arise, I asked my local Sainsbury's customer service what was needed to prove I'm shopping for a vulnerable person.  The answer I got was not very clear, so I suggested I have a picture of the asthma medication and they seemed to think this would be OK.

    But, I'm still not sure.  Has anybody got experience of this? 
    I think the problem is there is no legal definition of who is and who isn't "vulnerable" for this purpose. Even if there was there is no easy way of proving that you are acting on behalf of such a person. 

    In Scotland it is (or maybe was - I may be out of date) possible to get some gluten free foods prescribed by a doctor. I don't know where you live of if that still applies.

    You could presumably ask your wife's doctor for a letter confirming her needs. I would assume most / all supermarkets would accept that. The doctor could charge a fee but it may be worthwhile.

  • unforeseenunforeseen Forumite
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    There are two different definitions. Vulnerable and extremely vulnerable. 

    It's the extremely vulnerable that get the letter from the NHS and companies are gearing up to deal with such as Sainsburys and priority delivery slots. They have, in England at least, the NHS database of the extremely vulnerable and if you or the household address is on that list then you can get the deliveries

    If you are only vulnerable then it is up to each store how they deal with it. But consider that vulnerable people can still go to work if they can't work from home
  • suki1964suki1964 Forumite
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    The supermarkets have been given the data base of those who the GVT have sent the letters out to to ensure they are given priority home delivery slots

    The only other thing is to go in to your preferred store and explain to customer services/manager to see if you can get given priority shopping. I don't think they really check who is priority tbh, I do think they trust to good manners and decency

    Don't expect there to be the products she wants to be available though just because you do go in early. Im finding the smaller shops are much better for getting a full shop tbh. Even here in North Antrim where we treat vegan and gluten free diets as some sort of "fad" the local spars do still have good ranges 
  • D_M_ED_M_E Forumite
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    With the current panic buying that's going on, once shops run out of "normal" stuff to feed "normal" people, shoppers turn to the shelves holding gluten free stuff and the like and proceed to clear them out as well, despite the fact that the vast majority don't need gluten free and the like.

    This thread is a timely reminder to ask shoppers to leave the gluten free and such like stuff for people who REALLY need it and would suffer - and could even starve - without it.

    It could be a matter of life and death.
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  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    Quite honestly, I'd say just go during that slot and see what happens. You're shopping on her behalf, she has a genuine need - and because you live with someone more vulnerable, presumably you're taking good hygiene precautions that those less vulnerable may not be too concerned about, and therefore your presence isn't an increased risk for anyone else shopping at that time.
  • silvercarsilvercar Forumite, Board Guide
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    I thought the time slot for the vulnerable was exactly that, for people who had to especially careful to shop with the least number of people around as possible. I didn’t think it was for their carers.
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  • uknickuknick Forumite
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    Thanks for the input.  I think I'll turn up Monday morning and see what happens.  If not allowed in, I'll wait and join the queue to be allowed in at 9.  I don't think she'll get a letter as it stands at present, but last night she registered on the .Gov site as a vulnerable person; didn't know about that when I posted yesterday.  Let's see if that helps.  

    Not sure a prescription for gluten free food will help where we live.  GP surgeries have taken all OTC medicines off the approved prescription list since the 2018 NHS guidelines.  My partner has an ongoing  fight to keep eye drops on prescription despite Moorfield consultants saying she needs them to treat her chronic eye condition.  Every couple of months, the surgery prescription clerk takes them off repeat, my partner makes appointment to see GP to ask for them to be put back on (at least 6 weeks wait), shows GP consultant paperwork about her need, GP puts them back on list, next review they come off again and she has to start all over again.

    Regarding food running out, whilst not so important, I'm on an anti inflammatory diet for my OA.  Part of this is fresh or frozen blueberries/blackberries/cherries.  All these are gone by midday where I live.  Even fresh spinach is hard to find.  The fact they were all in abundant supply at all times of day prior to the COVID-19 crisis, makes me wonder as to the mentality of the locusts buying every thing just in case they will be needed.  When it's all over, I predict there will be tons of food going into landfill.  
  • uknickuknick Forumite
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    silvercar said:
    I thought the time slot for the vulnerable was exactly that, for people who had to especially careful to shop with the least number of people around as possible. I didn’t think it was for their carers.
    You could well be right; I think this is another area which needs to be more clearly defined.  When I spoke to customer services at Sainsbury's last week they didn't think it would be a problem If I did the shopping but that was before last Monday evening PM broadcast.   
  • SadieOSadieO Forumite
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    I agree with silvercar. You might not think it is "clearly defined" but I think the spirit of the "vulnerable hour" is to allow those at enhanced risk to have a chance to shop with fewer people around. If you yourself are not vulnerable then you are fine to go at any other time. Sorry, I know you are just trying to do the best for your partner but you may be putting other vulnerable people at risk by going at that time. I know you are just one extra person but lots of people have an older or vulnerable family member - if they all went shopping at the "vulnerable" hour, even if not so themselves, then the people who actually are vulnerable themselves would find themselves shopping with lots of extra people,  defeating the object. 
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