british flag

What to Do if Your English Student Guest Becomes Ill

Jonathan Wilkins


March 14, 2020
In this article we provide advice on what to do if your English language student guest becomes ill or has an accident whilst staying with you in your home in Birmingham.

What should I do if my student guest becomes unwell?

The vast majority of illnesses that students pick up whilst studying in the UK are mild ones such as the common cold with familiar symptoms like a headache, sore throat, cough and runny nose and these symptoms usually work themselves out after a couple of days bed rest. These symptoms are best dealt with by visiting a local pharmacy and seeking free advice from the pharmacist.

Another option is the Birmingham NHS Walk-in centre. The centre offers nurse-led walk-in appointments fora range of services and provides fast access to health information, advice and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.
It is located on Lower Ground Floor, Boots The Chemists Ltd, 66 High Street, Birmingham B4 7TA. You can also contact them by telephone on 0121 255 4500. The free 111 NHS number is also a good alternative where you can get free advice 24 hours a day.

Here is a link to the Birmingham NHS Walk-in centre:

Students from the European Union whose home countries have reciprocal health service provision with the UK will be able to receive free NHS care but those from non-European countries will have to pay approximately £65 for the Walk-in appointment with a Nurse plus the cost of their prescription, obtain a receipt for the appointment and the prescription payment and then claim it back from their respective insurers. All students are expected to take out adequate travel and medical insurance prior to arrival in the UK.

New Guidelines for European students since Brexit: Healthcare for visitors to the UK from the EU - GOV.UK (

Safeguarding Under 18's

Please inform Warm Welcome if a student aged under 18 is sick and we can liaise with the school and the students’ guardian/parents. Students aged under 18 require an extra duty of care so it is of paramount importance that the school and Warm Welcome are kept informed. Students aged 18+ are generally expected to keep the school informed themselves unless their illness stops them from doing so in which case we would expect the host/host family to liaise with the school and/or Warm Welcome.

If a student has to pay for any medical treatment and/or medication they should always obtain a receipt. Under no circumstances should the host/host family pay for any costs incurred by the student, nor should they provide a student with any medication unless prescribed by the doctor or hospital.

In the case of students who are staying short term for only a few weeks, they are not able to register with a GP so the pharmacy, supermarket or walk-in centre are the best options. However, longer term students staying for 12 weeks or more are able to register with your local GP and we strongly recommend they do that. We and the School will provide all the necessary documentation your student will need to register.

What if my student guest injures themselves in an accident?

Minor injuries can often be dealt with at a local pharmacy or the Birmingham NHS walk-in centre but in the event of a serious injury/accident you are advised to take your student to the local hospital A&E department if you are able to but if you are unable to and the incident warrants it, please call 999 for an Ambulance. Warm Welcome will also be ready to help should transportation be required. However, in the event of a serious accident or emergency it is advisable to contact the emergency services first as they are best placed to deal with the situation. Then you should contact Warm Welcome's Designated Safeguarding Officer, Mr Jonathan Wilkins on either 0121 638 0210 or 07749 741 490 so that ongoing support can be provided.

It is important to be mindful of the fact that being ill is not a pleasant experience for any of us especially if we are in unfamiliar surroundings and not in close contact with our own families, so a little compassion will go a long way. Please monitor students who are unwell and make sure they eat and drink as much as they can and seek medical advice if need be.

Jonathan Wilkins

Founder and Managing Director of Warm Welcome Homestays - Birmingham born and bred, English Language Teacher and long track-record of working with students, homestay hosts and language schools in the UK and overseas, including living and working in Asia for a number of years.

Get in Touch