The coronavirus pandemic is in full swing globally, but as the initial panic subsides, governments around the world are responding as best they can with strategies to deal with the virus in the longer term.
As a care worker, you have both additional responsibilities and an increased risk when it comes to spreading the virus. With people 70 and older being in the highest risk group, those working in the care sector or with elderly people need to practice special caution. Here is some practical, simple advice to implement in your own work, and do your part.
Keep updated with information from reputable sources
Advice and updates from the government can change quite quickly, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on suggestions from local authorities, the NHS or the WHO website. But too much information can be overwhelming, to say the least! It’s important to opt for neutral, fact-based online content, especially if you occasionally find the current situation emotionally challenging or difficult to cope with. Thankfully, there are many high-quality resources available that will give you up-to-date information and clear, helpful advice.
Keep hygiene front of mind
Older people may have weakened immune systems, be on chronic medication or have long term conditions that make it difficult for them to fend off infection. Health and safety is more critical for them now than ever. Fortunately, we do understand the primary routes of transmission, and these can be greatly managed with a little conscious effort to maintain hygiene.
Follow NHS and international guidelines and wash your hands thoroughly for more than 20 seconds with soap after touching your own face, the people you’re caring for, or items like groceries or doorknobs. Keep some antibacterial hand cleaner or wipes on hand for convenience, and wash your hands thoroughly after returning home from work each day. Finally, if you are offering housework as part of your service, be extra mindful and liberally use cleaning products or simple bleach to disinfect shared objects and surfaces.
Use PPE equipment
While many workers are now at home or on furlough, it can be difficult to acknowledge that doing the work you love increases the risk of infection for your patient, yourself, and those closest to you. Personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves increase your safety as well as make you feel more psychologically comfortable. They’re non-negotiable if your patient is positive for the virus.
Don’t forget about mental health – yours and your patient’s
The current pressures on nurses, health professionals, carers and support workers can be intense. It can make it so much easier to deal with trying times if you can acknowledge and accept any difficult emotions, rather than feeling like you’re doing something wrong if you feel anxious or overwhelmed. For the time being you may need to take extra time to rest, slow down, and engage in self-care. Make sure that you set aside time every day to exercise, go into nature, connect with loved ones or do an activity simply because it makes you happy and relaxed. Remind yourself of the valuable work you’re doing!
Check in with your patients
Practically speaking, keep on top of your patient’s health status and make sure you have updated information about their conditions, medications, family contacts, living arrangements and their classification in various vulnerable or shielded groups. This will not only ensure you can act responsibly in the event of an emergency, but will give you a feeling of control and the knowledge that you’re doing the best you can to protect those who need it most.
Take pristine care of your own health
Many who contract the virus experience no symptoms at all. Nevertheless, it’s essential to take care of your own health and monitor any potential symptoms so you can take action. If you show symptoms or test positive for the virus (or someone in your household does), you’ll need to self-isolate for at least 7 days. Contact your local authorities or call the NHS 111 for advice about what to do in your specific case – when in doubt, maintain distance and continue following government guidelines.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
While the healthcare sector across the country is experiencing extra strain, another perspective is that nurses and care workers are now being offered unprecedented levels of support, recognition and understanding. There are helplines to call, special offers and discounts, and excellent online resources to help you through this crisis – but you don’t have to be an NHS worker to receive support. At Carehires, you know that we have your back, and are here to offer assistance and guidance, no matter what your unique challenges are.
Try not to bring it home – literally and figuratively
The importance of maintaining physical health and safety is paramount. Our task now is to continue providing much-needed support to those who need it, while protecting our valuable care workers – and their families. A daily routine can help you release the worries and stress from the day when you return home. Take the time to wash your hands, change clothes, find a quiet moment for deep breathing or stretching, and give yourself a pat on the back for bringing some kindness and care into someone else’s day.
An effective care worker is one who knows how to balance care for others with self-care; a person with an impeccable work ethic, but who is nonetheless ready to practice compassion for themselves and others in difficult moments. As a Carehires worker, you are never alone, and we know that with the right perspective and a willingness to do our best, we can all remember why we were drawn to this industry in the first place: because we care.