Caring for yourself during a COVID-19 outbreak

Learning objectives

At the end of Unit 6, you will:

  • understand the importance of debriefing after advance care planning
  • understand the importance of caring for yourself during COVID-19
  • be aware of sources of support for staff members
  • have knowledge of ways in which staff members can self-care

The realities of working during COVID-19

As you support residents and family members to make decisions about their future care wishes, it is important that you also receive the care and support you need.  It is natural that you may at times feel overwhelmed – especially during COVID-19.  While it can be difficult to navigate these complex emotions, there are many sources of support available to help you both personally and professionally. This section introduces a number of steps that are designed to promote health and wellbeing, and provides links to additional resources that may be of interest to you.

  • Takeaway activity
    As you go through this unit, jot down any concerns or worries you currently have about work during COVID-19. Discuss your concerns with a senior member of staff. Discuss how you and your colleagues can find time each day to support each other.

The importance of debriefing

After hosting a Family Care Conference, or a conversation about advance care planning, it can be helpful to debrief where possible with a colleague in your care home, for your own health and wellbeing. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Check: you may want to check decisions made by the resident or family members with a senior member of staff in order to verify they are the most appropriate care options.
  • Questions: you may have questions that were raised in the Family Care Conference that you wish to seek clarity on, for example particular services that were requested by the family.
  • Advice: you may wish to seek advice from a colleague about things which were discussed during the Family Care Conference, for example decisions about care which may still be outstanding.
  • Reflect: you may wish to reflect on your own handling of the Family Care Conference. What went well? What could you improve on next time? How might you conduct the conversation differently in the future?
  • Share: you may feel upset or distressed about the Family Care Conference. In this instance, it would be helpful for you to share and process your emotions with a colleague so they can offer you support.

Your support network

Identifying your support network can be a helpful step in boosting your own wellbeing. You might find it useful to talk things through with the following people.

Care home colleagues

Your colleagues can be a brilliant source of support. They are likely to understand how you feel, offering empathy and even practical solutions to problems you are facing. Think about a colleague that you feel you could open up to. Is there anything you would like to discuss right now?

Care home management

Senior staff can offer you help and support if you are finding circumstances challenging. Think about a senior member of staff who you would feel comfortable approaching. Is there anything you would like to say to them at the moment?

Family and friends

Your loved ones can help you to relax and feel supported and valued. Arranging quality time with those closest to you can be comforting when you are experiencing stress or pressure at work.

Professional guidance

Professional guidance can provide you with advice about delivering care, including advance care planning, during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, this best practice guide produced by the British Geriatrics Society: COVID-19: Managing the COVID-19 pandemic in care homes (

External organisations

Certain organisations can offer specialist advice about particular concerns or emotions you might be feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, this support leaflet about grief and bereavement during the pandemic, produced by the Public Health Agency: Covid-19 Grief and bereavement Support Booklet (

Grief and bereavement

You might experience grief and bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic, in your personal or professional life. The following resources might be helpful in caring for yourself during this time.

Cruse Bereavement Care
Provides free support, advice and information for adults, children and young people. National Freephone Helpline: 0808 808 1677. Opening hours Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.00pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings until 8pm.

A safe online space where people can share their story, explore their feelings and be supported by a qualified bereavement counsellor. The service is free of charge and is open Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm (UK time) for people who are grieving or bereaved.

Coping with death and grief during the Covid-19 pandemic
produced by The British Psychological Society


Self-care can be defined as:

"Taking proactive steps to preserve or improve your physical and mental health, wellbeing, happiness and quality of life."

Self-care is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure you stay safe and well. You can take practical steps to help maintain your health and wellbeing as much as possible during this time. For example, you might want to make sure you are drinking enough water during the day, getting some fresh air and maximising your sleep patterns.

Finding ways to exercise, rest and relax can help you to maintain and improve your health and wellbeing during this time. Below are some ideas and additional resources that you might want to explore in order to support your own self-care.

A good night’s sleep can help you to wake feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Adjusting your bedtime routine can improve the quality of your sleep

How to get sleep

Walking or running can help to improve your physical and mental health. The established ‘Couch to 5k’ beginners programme has inspired lots of people to get active for the first time

Couch to 5K

As a keyworker, you might have experienced particular challenges to your health and wellbeing during COVID-19.


The Headspace app is just one of many tools available which can help to embed stress relief and resilience into your daily life


Mindfulness can help to improve mental wellbeing by tuning in to what you are thinking and feeling



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