Advice for people working in residential social care and home care

Last reviewed on 21 January 2021

As you look after the people in your care – either in a care home or in their own home – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s more important than ever that you also look after yourself. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, these are perfectly normal reactions to the challenges you face. It’s OK to not feel OK.

Good Thinking has put together this guide to help support your mental wellbeing. It includes practical tips, links to further support and a checklist video.

If you work in a care home in London, you can get more detailed guidance in the London Care Home Resource Pack (NHS). This includes information about infection control, PPE, supporting residents and staff wellbeing and free wellbeing offers available to you. Care home staff and local authority or CCG system champions can access this pack on the Capacity Tracker resource centre (log in then go to the ‘London Regional Guidance’ page).

You might also find the new Care Workforce app (CARE) useful. You can download it from the App Store or Google Play (search ‘Care Workforce’) or, if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, you can access it on the Care Workforce website.

If you’d like to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, call the social care staff helpline (provided by Samaritans) on 0300 131 7000 or text FRONTLINE to 85258. You can also get free, confidential bereavement support from Hospice UK by calling 0300 303 4434.

Going home checklist for care workers

  • Take some time to think about today
  • Consider one difficult thing that happened during your shift – acknowledge that difficulty and let it go
  • Think about three things that went well
  • Check on your colleagues before you finish – are they OK?
  • Are you OK? Your team is there to support you
  • Switch your attention to home – rest and recharge


Watch this video about the checklist on the Healthy London Partnership YouTube channel

10 ways to protect your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

  1. Talk to your colleagues, family and friends and tell them how you’re feeling – call them, text them or have a video chat if you can’t see them in person. It’s important that you have a strong support network.
  2. Make sure you receive an effective safety induction, especially if you’re new to the job or if you’re returning to work to help fight COVID-19. Take some time to think about what you need to know about your new environment. You can find resources about supportive inductions on the Skills for Care website.
  3. Raise any concerns you have with your line manager or agency so they can support you. Asking for help when times are difficult is a sign of strength.
  4. Try to stick to your normal daily routine but recognise when you need to adapt. Perhaps you need to take an extra break at work or go to bed earlier than usual?
  5. Take time to wind down after work and try to get enough sleep. Good Thinking provides lots of useful sleep resources, including a podcast and worksheets – find out more in the ‘I’m finding it hard to sleep’ section below.
  6. Avoid information overload – you might find it useful to limit how many times a day you check the news and social media. Visit the UK Government and NHS websites for guidance on coronavirus, Test and Trace and the COVID-19 vaccine.
  7. Take care of yourself – a) try to eat healthily, b) stay hydrated, c) take breaks at work whenever you can, d) get some fresh air and e) do some exercise. If you think you might find meditation helpful, take a look at the Meditainment app.
  8. Find out where you can go for additional support within your organisation (e.g. one-to-one support) and outside of it (e.g. online communities where you can chat to other carers). Ask your line manager or agency for their advice and check out the list of useful websites at the end of this article.
  9. If you are a senior member of staff, check on your team members’ wellbeing regularly and offer a safe space for them to talk. Ask your manager for their support if you need it.
  10. Recognise the enormous gratitude of the people you care for, their families and other people across the UK for your courage and compassion at this difficult time.

And remember, you can call 0300 131 7000 or text FRONTLINE to 85258 to talk to someone about how you’re feeling or call 0300 303 4434 for free, confidential bereavement support. A series of NHS-led webinars focused on supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of health and care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has also been developed. Visit the Thrive LDN website to access the Keeping Well for Health and Care Workers webinars.

As someone working in social care, you have the knowledge and skills to limit the spread of infection but you might still worry about getting ill if you come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

You might feel under pressure dealing with coronavirus so it’s important that you find ways to look after yourself, manage your stress levels and help your colleagues to do the same. Try to provide a listening ear and remind each other that you’ll get through this together.

After a busy shift, you might find it difficult to switch off and unwind but it’s vital that you get enough sleep.

Looking after someone who is seriously ill or dying is very difficult, especially if you have been caring for them for some time and know them and their family well. Take a moment to acknowledge how you feel and remember, there is no right or wrong way to feel. You might find that you experience a range of emotions, including sadness, shock, anger, numbness and even guilt, and move between these feelings at different times.

It’s vital that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, including care professionals, self-isolates in accordance with the official advice. Being at home might be challenging but there are some things you can do to help protect your mental wellbeing.

You might be worried about your family’s health, your children’s education and your household finances at this time. If you’re living apart from your family, you might also be concerned about the effect this separation is having on them.

Unfortunately, some of you might experience a negative reaction by members of your community due to stigma or fear.

Try to get your information from your employer and the NHS and Government websites only and limit how many times a day you check the news and social media.

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