When we are so used to caring for our loved ones face-to-face, it can seem daunting to tackle caring during a pandemic. These tips are designed to provide help for carers during Covid-19.
We want to make sure that our loved ones still feel cared-for and have all their needs met. However, if one of you has to self-isolate or if your loved one is shielding, this can become difficult.
Here are some tips for how to look after your loved one during this strange time, but also how to look after yourself. It is absolutely vital to practice self-care during this disruptive time. We want to provide help for carers, as well as support for those who are vulnerable to Covid-19.
1. Reach out!
Being a carer can be lonely at the best of times.
Whether you’re self-isolating with the person you care for, or if you’re caring from a distance, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. You could contact friends or family, even if you don’t want to talk about your care responsibilities, give yourself permission to switch off and talk about something else.
There are also some great forums where you can speak to like-minded carers about your concerns, such as Carers UK or Carers First. If you find yourself struggling and don’t know where to turn, you can contact helplines like The Samaritans.
There are many resources that provide help for carers out there. Remember you’re not alone in your responsibilities and anxieties- help is just on the other end of a phone.
2. Stick to Some Sort of a Routine
While Covid-19 has almost certainly disrupted your daily routine, there are ways of making the adjustment easier.
It is advisable to stick to a schedule. Perhaps invest in a physical calendar, as seeing your plans in black and white can help you get organised.
If you or your loved one is shielding you could schedule in phone or Skype calls on a regular basis. If you stick to a pre-planned time it will give you both some structure and something to look forward to.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Never compare yourself to others. You can only do so much as one person.
Everyone has their own difficulties and struggles- even if they are not visible on the surface. To gain some perspective, it is helpful to log onto carer forums (like Carers UK and Carers First) and speak to people struggling with the same issues as you.
In turn, providing help for carers yourself and giving friendly advice to others on forums can feel very rewarding, and can provide you with a sense of purpose in these difficult times.
You should also take regular breaks from your work or caring- even if you can only spare 15 minutes for a walk around the block.
4. Show that you Care from a Distance
There are so many ways that help you can show that you care- even from a distance.
You can send personalised cards or gifts via services like Moonpig.com or Thortful.com. You could send them care packages or handwritten letters- these small things can make someone’s day, particularly if they’re struggling with loneliness.
Another option is to set them up with a video chat feature like Skype or Zoom so you can get that face-to-face quality time at a safe distance.
Even something as simple as sending a text when you’re thinking of them can make all the difference to your loved one’s mental and emotional well-being
5. Communicate Openly with your Loved One
If your loved one does not have access to up-to-date information about the latest guidelines, ensure that you help keep them updated.
It can be a distressing time for an older person during the pandemic, especially seeing as they are a vulnerable group. You should give your loved one a platform to air their concerns and feelings and provide them with validation and support, whether this is in person or over the phone/Skype.
6. Stay Informed, but Take a Break
It is important to stay informed of what is going on, as regulations can change on a daily basis.
However, what has recently been dubbed ‘doom-scrolling’ can be detrimental and draining to your mental health.
If you are frequently and habitually viewing disturbing or upsetting content, particularly relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, then it is likely you are doom-scrolling. It has been proven that this can impact your peace of mind and well-being, so it would be wise to limit the amount you view this content.
Perhaps place a time limit on it, or only look once per day at a particular time, incorporating it into your routine
7. Take All Necessary Precautions
As much as we want to see our loved ones in person, the unfortunate truth is that this may prove to be detrimental to their health.
Where possible, limit in-person contact as much as you can unless you are living with the person that you care for.
If you can meet outside do so, as the risk of passing anything on is reduced by this.
You should wear your masks and ensure you wash or sanitise your hands regularly.
Make sure that you adhere to the government guidance for your local area and keep informed of any Covid-19 updates
8. Look into Virtual Activities
While we can no longer attend theatres and cinemas in the way that we used to, there are still some great alternatives for you and your loved one to try.
For example, you can live stream theatre productions from the comfort of your home. This is a great thing to do with your loved one or even by yourself.
Try to prioritise your local theatre companies first, as we should aim to support local businesses as much as possible during this difficult time.
There are virtual classes and courses available for all skill sets and abilities. This is a great way to keep yours or your loved one’s brains occupied and potentially learn a new skill.
9. Keep Yourself Healthy
You can’t care for someone else effectively if you don’t also care for yourself.
Ensure that you’re eating well and staying active for the sake of your mental health as well as your physical health.
If you are struggling with sleep, try meditation and mindfulness apps or natural remedies like aromatherapy and changes to your diet.
10. Be Careful of Scammers
Be vigilant! Have frequent and open conversations about fraud and scams with your loved one.
You and your loved one should be aware of phone calls from unknown numbers and emails with unknown attachments.
If you receive a phone call requesting you pay a fee for a Covid-19 test do not hand your details over – Covid-19 tests are 100% free to the public. This is just one of many recent scams.
It is a difficult time for all of us, but especially unpaid family carers.
We appreciate all of your hard work and sacrifice.
We want to point you towards all the help for carers that is out there- take a look at our free knowledge base or check out some of our other informative blogs, covering topics such as the Carer’s Allowance and if you are in fact a carer.