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Support for families of health and care workers

It’s not easy seeing the most important people in your life going through what they’re going through. On the outside everyone is calling them heroes and for better or for worse, you get to see them from a different perspective; how they’re really doing.

Some people try to shut it out while others wear it all on their sleeves and on their faces. But you know the people you love and know how they’re coping and when they’re not, sometimes even when they don’t know it. You’re playing a very important part in the lives of the people who are protecting the people on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic and that makes you a hero in many ways too. But just like them, it’s really hard to know what to do and how to cope with that yourself - that’s where we can help.

If someone’s feeling anxious or worried, you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to support them. Think about using our three top tips:

Check in

If someone doesn’t feel ready to meet face-to-face, picking up the phone, having a video call, starting a group chat or messaging someone on social media lets them know you are there to talk and ready to listen.

Listen and reflect

Whether you have a mental health problem or not, this will be a challenging time for our mental health and wellbeing. If someone opens up to you, remember that you don't need to fix things or offer advice. Often just listening and showing you take them seriously can help someone to manage.

Ask questions  

Ask how people are managing and ask again if you're worried they aren't sharing the full picture. Asking again, with interest, can help someone to open up and explore what they're feeling.

Family distress

  • Remember that distress is an understandable feeling in such circumstances.
  • Employ calming strategies and maintain family routines.
  • Ensure there is time for rest and “stepping away” when possible in order to “recharge”.
  • Remember that even if stressful, the situation is temporary.
  • Highlight those things you have control over in your life where you can make a positive difference.
  • Take care of your health by keeping regular bedtime hours and eating well.
  • Ensure your physical resilience by avoiding excessive alcohol and by not smoking or vaping.

Helping families feel safe

  • Families of healthcare workers may be given conflicting or unclear information about the best ways to avoid Covid-19 infection. Information provided by reliable sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are most useful.
  • Worry less about being perfect in your actions  and manage as best you can considering the circumstances, your resources and available information.
  • Specific rules and guidance may not be provided for every situation. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to develop your own family “rules” and procedures that help families feel safe in managing exposures.
  • Ensure you cover the basics. Maintain proper hygiene practices (e.g., regularly washing hands, covering when coughing and sneezing, avoiding contact with your face, cleaning commonly touched surfaces and door knobs).
  • You may choose or be guided to take additional precautions (e.g., removing work clothes at the door, showering before engaging family members).
  • Promote these practices in an effective manner for children (e.g., singing songs, creating games).
  • Work together (include family members and employers) to decide best living arrangements (e.g., separate bedrooms or temporarily living away) to support family safety. Contact with Covid-19 patients, media reports questioning the availability of PPE, and news stories of healthcare workers becoming ill with Covid-19, understandably increase concerns of healthcare workers about contracting the virus or spreading it among family members.
  • Remind all family members that the healthcare worker is involved in a critical “mission”, similar to a military deployment, which can help put the worker’s and family’s roles in context.
  • Be proud of your family member’s role in taking care of Covid-19 patients during this outbreak. This pride creates a sense of meaning and purpose among family members.
  • Maintain telephonic or online communication when possible, but understand their time may be limited.
  • Remember that healthcare workers may separate from the family in order to ensure everyone’s well-being, but it will only be temporary.
  • Work together within the family to deal with daily challenges and overcome larger difficulties, building a sense of family purpose.
  • Take advantage of assistance that is offered from neighbours, friends, and extended family — you are strong, but you don’t have to go it alone. Children  (should this be a header)
  • Help children understand what is happening within their family.
  • Remind children that their family healthcare worker is properly trained for this situation. They know what to do to treat Covid-19 patients and to ensure their own safety and the safety of their family.
  • Give children a sense of purpose by providing opportunities “to contribute” within the home (i.e., helping with food preparation, cleaning the dishes, completing other family chores).

Helping those who serve: How family members and friends can support healthcare workers during COVID-19​​​​​​​

Who can use the Resilience Hub?

its-okay.jpgThe Lancashire and South Cumbria Resilience Hub is intended as a support resources for all public sector workers and volunteers who have worked through the Covid-19 pandemic and their families.

This includes everyone from those who work in the NHS, local authorities and councils, ambulance service staff, care home workers, those working in social care and community workers.

We are hoping that the Hub will eventually be able to operate as a resource for everyone who has felt the psychological strain of Covid-19.

Do you need more support?

Remember, you're a big part of this person's journey and you're doing a great thing. We're here to support you too.