Message from Ann Smith, Chair of the CNWL Carers Council:

As carers, COVID-19 is a challenge for us all in our busy lives with the pressures of caring. As the months go by, the pressures of caring can be hard, and for many the impacts of COVID-19 are difficult. I am sure you are facing the situation with resilience and good humour as you always do, but please remember your health is important as well. At these challenging times we tend to put our own needs as carers low down the list. Here are some tips for looking after yourselves and your loved ones during these times.   

  1. Keep up to date on the latest guidance, using only trustworthy and reliable sources, like the national advice    
  2. If you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, NHS 111 can offer direct guidance as they have set up an online coronavirus helpline. Call 111 if your symptoms become severe, and let them know you are a carer. ​​​​​​
  3. Make a plan for if you become unwell yourself. The charity Carers UK has excellent advice on how to create a contingency plan, including planning for an emergency and asking others for help. This is really important because you need to look after yourself too. They also offer on advice on what to if you are a working carer.
  4. It is a good idea to let your GP or medical professional know that you are a carer. See Carers UK guidelines on this. You should also let your Local Authority know that you are a carer if you have to self-isolate.
  5. Be prepared for some health services to operate differently. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, CNWL have had to make changes to services and to patient care in order to follow national guidance and for the safety of patients, families and staff. See this page to remain up to date on our visiting regulations. Please talk to our staff about this advice or about your worries.
  6. Help us help everyone by following good hand hygiene and by staying away from services if feeling unwell. If visiting is allowed at your loved one’s service, or if you are accompanying someone to an appointment, please follow national regulations and follow CNWL guidance when the visit is taking place.
  7. Stay connected – it may become difficult for us to live our normal lives but do what you can to keep in touch with people. Make the most of technology that can keep you in touch with the person for whom you care, or keep them in touch with others. Ask others for help if you need and don’t suffer in silence if you are worried.​​​​​​​ CNWL have put together some simple guidance for using Zoom in case you need some extra help.
  8. Take care of your own health and wellbeing – During this time it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your own health and wellbeing. The organisation Mind have put together some useful resources and advice for individuals staying home during this time. CNWL also have resource packs for each borough detailing where to receive local support including Carers Assessments, local carer organisations and respite care. See this page to access these packs.

Supporting carers during Covid

As you all know, anxiety is increasing in the community as people think about the last wave and some, whilst understanding the necessity for the measures, will be extremely anxious about how they will cope this time. Carers are likely to be highly impacted by these changes and it is important that we do all we can to support carers and families where possible. Below are some key reminders on what staff should be doing during this time:

  • When conducting consultations over the phone or using virtual methods, be sure that you speak to the carer where possible and relevant so that carers are kept informed and are given the opportunity to share any relevant information about the patient. We have received some feedback that this is not always happening, and staff are missing vital information about the deterioration of patients’ mental health from family members.
  • Signpost carers and families to relevant support – the CNWL website has a page of ‘Coronavirus Guidance for Carers’ as well as resource packs for carers each borough that includes useful signposting to local support, carers organisations and charities. See this page on the website and share the relevant pack with any known carers in your service.
  • Staff should communicate clearly to carers if there any restrictions on who can visit inpatients. Make sure requirements about wearing PPE and temperature checks are made clear in advance so carers know what to expect. Understand that for a carer, not being able to visit loved ones can bring on feelings of worry, sadness, guilt, stress, anxiety and depression – so it is essential to support patients and families to stay in touch however possible. We have learnt from the first wave that if a person is unable to visit their loved one, methods such as phones and iPads can be used to aid communication, as well as letters and messages from loved ones.  Even when this is not possible, staff can still update carers over the phone to provide reassurance and information. Communication and knowing that their loved one is in safe hands makes all the difference. It is essential that these channels of communication stay open so that patients and their families can maintain contact and to reduce feelings of isolation during what can be a very scary, anxiety-provoking time for all.

Doctors of the World, in association with UK Red Cross and Clear Voice have produced translations of Govt advice and information on COVID-19 in a range of languages.

You can subscribe to receive notifications of any updates to these documents  in line with evolving Govt advice. See link and email below.

Please find them on this website.