We would like to take this opportunity to thank social care workers across Wales working to keep vulnerable people safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are aware that caring for and supporting people during these challenging and unprecedented times will have left you working under huge pressure, in unfamiliar and rapidly changing circumstances.
As lock down measures are relaxed, it’s important you look after yourself. Remember, that feeling overwhelmed is not a weakness nor does it reflect badly on you. We would encourage anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, anxious or in need of support, to seek support from their line manager and make use of the resources available on this page.
We are keen to support you and we continue to maintain the online health and well-being resource. We hope you find the resource useful in maintaining your health and well-being over the coming challenging weeks and months.
Due to the ever-evolving nature of the current situation, these resources may be updated frequently. However, we will aim to keep the information as relevant as possible.
Need help now?
Are you feeling overwhelmed, anxious and feeling like you just can’t go on? Perhaps you are feeling out of control and fearful - you are not alone. The World Health Organisation has described the coronavirus outbreak as “unique and unprecedented scenario” for many frontline workers.
Get help now – please do not delay seeking support from the services listed.
We’ve launched a new employee assistance programme that offers well-being support to those employed in the social care workforce in the private and voluntary sectors in Wales, including personal assistants. We’ve sent posters and information about the service to workplaces – speak to your manager or employer to find out how to access it. Or, if you have any queries, call Care first's 24/7 number – 0333 2129 212.
Samaritans has launched a new confidential support line for NHS and social care workers in Wales. Their volunteers are here to support you when you’ve had a tough day, are feeling worried or overwhelmed, or just have a lot on your mind and need to talk it through. Sometimes, a friendly voice, some time to reflect and a listening ear can make all the difference. It’s more important than ever that we look after ourselves and each other. Call the free confidential support line 0800 484 0555 (Open every day, 7am to 11pm) or the free confidential support line in Welsh 0808 164 2777 (Open every evening, 7pm to 11pm).
Anyone concerned about their mental health can access confidential emotional support from the C.A.L.L. Helpline on freephone 0800 132 737 or text help to 81066. The C.A.L.L website also offers information and literature on mental health and related matters.
The BAME Helpline Wales is the helpline for anyone over the age of 18 living in Wales, particularly if you identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic. The helpline aims to respond to the disproportionate impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on BAME communities by providing information, referral and signposting to specialist advice, mainstream and community organisations. The helpline is open 10:30am to 2:30pm, Monday to Friday and can be contacted on phone 0300 222 5720 and SMS text on 07537 432416.
Maintaining your physical well-being
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have now approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in the UK. The Public health wales website hosts dedicated resources for social care workers on the delivery of the vaccine programme.
Maintaining a healthy diet and having good nutrition is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic. A healthy diet and eating well can play an important part in supporting your physical well-being. The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has answers to many questions and concerns about nutrition during COVID-19. The information is useful as a reference guide and includes a healthy eating food fact sheet. In addition, a helpful webinar on maintaining good nutrition in the current times of stress, fear and uncertainty is available from This Can Happen.
The webinar is also supported by a free downloadable slide pack on maintaining good nutrition during the pandemic.
The Welsh Government has launched an All Wales COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool. The tool has been developed to help people working in the NHS and Social Care in Wales to see if they are at higher risk of developing more serious symptoms if they come into contact with the COVID-19 virus. You can complete the self-assessment and then have a conversation with your line manager. Using the tool will to help you understand whether you may be at greater risk and to help you and your line manager to choose the right actions for you based on your level of risk.
If you are struggling with muscle and joint problems (such as neck, hip or back pain) and would like support to help manage your condition, you can get rapid access to NHS physiotherapists through the Well-being Through Work Service. The service is free and confidential. Please note the service is only available to those working in businesses in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend.
Staying active and keeping yourself physically well can be more difficult at this time. There are tools, advice and ideas on keeping physically well on the Public Health Wales website.
Welsh Government written statement on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for protecting front line health and social care staff who are caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Good mental well-being
Many of us will be working from home due to the pandemic and usual support we access in our workplaces may not be there for us at the moment. As we adapt to new ways of working, it is important that we reflect on what keeps us well and identify what can impact our wellbeing whilst working from home. Mind has made available a resource on How to support your mental health when working from home. It is a practical resource that helps you develop a personalised action plan to support your mental health.
Activate your life is a free online course designed to help you improve your mental health and wellbeing. The course is based on a relatively new approach to therapy – ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ (ACT). The course is in four filmed sessions, and the films show you practical ways of dealing with thoughts and feelings.
Help for Heroes has made their Field Guide to Self-Care available to anyone who could benefit from it, but especially frontline workers in health and social care. The guide is aimed at helping you deal with emotional challenges and practical changes, since the Coronavirus outbreak started. The guide is available in Welsh and English and is broken down into three parts; Body, Emotion and Mind and can be worked through in one go or one at a time.
Mindfulness can be beneficial for mental health. The free Mindfulness Based Living app developed by the Mindfulness Association provides all of the guided practices for their Level 1 – Level 3 Mindfulness courses.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Sleepio is an app that helps you learn proven techniques to fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. Sleepio is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and you will learn cognitive techniques to help tackle the racing mind and behavioural strategies to help reset sleeping patterns naturally. To use the app you will need an access code which is available via the social care worker card.
Working in exceptionally challenging circumstances can leave you feeling anxious and worried. If you or one of your colleagues is struggling with anxiety there is a five minute podcast developed by Dr Chris Williams explaining how you can take control of anxiety. The Podcast can also be found within the NHS mental health audio guides.
SilverCloud Workforce is an online mental health and wellbeing programme tailored specifically to help health and social care workers. The SilverCloud online programme helps you ease your levels of stress, sleep better or to build resilience. You can choose to use any of the programmes on offer - Space for Resilience; Space from Stress; Space from COVID-19; Space for Sleep. To use SilverCloud you will need an access code which is available via the social care worker card.
Daylight is a smartphone-based app that provides help to people experiencing symptoms of worry and anxiety. The apps uses evidence-based cognitive behavioural techniques and animation. To use Daylight you will need an access code which is available via the social care worker card.
The World Health Organisation has published advice for front line staff on mental health and psycho-social considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Community Care has published an emotional resilience guide. The guide is a free download to support all practitioners during the pandemic and includes specific techniques practitioners can try to develop a personal resilience “toolbox".
Using brief animation, Dr Russ Harris, illustrates how to use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to help you deal with the corona crisis and the fear, anxiety and worry that goes with it.
The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust has made available resources to help emergency workers stay well, particularly when it comes to mental health.
Carers UK provides detailed information and tips designed to help both you and those you care for look after your mental well-being. There is also information and specific ideas on how to develop a well-being action plan.
If you are anxious about coronavirus, Hafal has useful tips for looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
If you are feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus the Mind website is a good source of information for what you can do to take care of your mental health and well-being.
Improvement Cymru has a mental health resources page, which provides useful self-help resources and information , including links to apps aimed at helping you look after your mental health.
Financial well-being is as important as ever during this pandemic, anxiety about money can understandably have an impact on your well-being. We have pulled together a list of initiatives to assist and advice you with financial pressures you may be facing at this time.
If you are concerned about money during the coronavirus pandemic, the Money Advice Service has published useful information to help you identify how you can best manage your money. The information covers a range of topics such as how to make an emergency budget and the best way to pay bills.
The Care Workers’ Charity supports care workers with hardship grants. There are currently two grants on offer, the Crisis Grant Fund and the Covid-19 Emergency Fund. Both grant funds are open to receiving applications from social care workers.
There is now support for social care workers who are required to stay off work due to actual or suspected COVID-19 or because they have to self-isolate. The Statutory sick pay enhancement scheme supports social care workers who only get statutory sick pay when absent or are not eligible for SSP. The scheme runs until 31 March 2021. An eligibility checker is available from the Welsh Government.
Social care workers who have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge may be able to claim their money back from HM Government. Eligible applicants can now apply online and find out more about the scheme. Telephone help is available if you have difficulty in applying.
Financial support and debt advice is available for social workers from the British Association of Social Workers website.
Advice for pregnant workers
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has updated its guidance for employers and pregnant women in a joint statement. The original guidance which was written at the peak of the pandemic has now been archived.
Pregnant women should socially distance in line with government guidance. Employers are advised to undertake individual risk assessments for pregnant staff members that considers the individual’s circumstances, underlying health conditions and the risks of their employment setting, alongside the latest clinical advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Beat flu campaign
Care home staff who are in regular contact with residents and domiciliary care workers are now eligible for a free flu vaccine from their community pharmacy. Making sure you get your free flu vaccine, if you’re eligible, is more important than ever this winter as it will help protect you, those you care for and their families from getting infected.
Public Health Wales has published specific information about the flu vaccination for care home managers and staff, as well as domiciliary care workers. It’s also published a series of resources you can use to promote the health and well-being of staff and protect against flu this winter, as well as a short e-learning programme about flu immunisation that’s suitable for all health and care workers.
Support for managers
As leaders and managers in social care, you are working hard to protect the well-being of your teams who are going above and beyond to ensure services continue for those who need them. Well-being remains a priority and additional support maybe needed during this time.
Your teams – protecting well-being and reducing the risk of burnout
Managers can access a practical guide on maintaining team resilience from Skills for Care. The guide includes examples of things that you can do to reduce the risk of workplace stress, help workers develop resilient behaviours and make resilient behaviour the norm in the workplace.
Here is a 5-minute check in you can do with your team to help support them to consider their need to self-care:
- Have I eaten regular meals this week?
- Have I showered?
- Am I getting enough sleep? Do I wake in the night and struggle to go back to sleep?
- Am I being self-critical or am I thinking kind thoughts about myself?
- Have I made time to go for a walk or to be outside?
- Have a spent time with someone who is important to me, even if that’s a phone call or video call?
- Have I moved my body today?
- Has something made me smile this week?
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust managers resource describes some of the physical and emotional responses you may see from your team during the current pandemic. It explores ways you can support your team and their well-being.
Compassionate leadership – what is it and why is important to leading in a crisis?
You can find resources, including webinars and blogs explaining what compassionate leadership is on the Kings fund website and why it is so important as a leadership approach during a time of crisis. You can also find other resources and webinars to enable a compassionate approach to leadership during COVID-19.
The Kings fund has developed resources and webinars to support leaders during this time.
More resources on compassionate leadership are available from the Health Education and Improvement Wales website Gwella. These include a compassionate behaviour compass to help us navigate how we interact and engage with colleagues.
Leading teams providing end of life care
Some care providers in Wales are providing end of life care and this is hugely emotionally challenging. Here you can find advice and resources on how to support your team through their grief and model compassionate leadership.
Supporting staff who are experiencing poor mental health
Mind provide free templates to help managers and their staff to develop Well-being Actions Plans as a way to proactively support positive mental health and prevent work related stress and burn out.
The Intensive Care Society has made available a series of downloadable posters aimed at improving our understanding of psychological well-being at work, the impact that reduced well-being can have and what we can do in response and includes tips for dealing with extraordinary situations such as COVID-19. You can use the posters to set up a staff wellbeing board or complement other well-being activities in your workplace.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has advice and information for employers on dealing with the corona virus pandemic. The information is comprehensive and covers a range of topics for managers and employers on supporting staff by being prepared, particularly looking after employees’ health and safety and developing flexible resourcing plans.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to focus attention on the pressures faced by social care workers. Concern is also rising about the long term impact of the pandemic on mental health of care workers and the increasing risk of social care workers developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Managers have a vital role to play in recognising the signs PTSD amongst their staff and teams and being able to direct them to appropriate support. A helpful resource is available from the All Wales Traumatic Stress Service Initiative - the resource is written for anyone supporting people who experience traumatic events and is full of practical information and toolkits managers can use to support their staff.
Hints and tips for managing teams during COVID-19
Healthier Scotland have developed a well-being hub for health and social care workers. There are resources for managers and leaders offering support on modelling self-care, supporting effective team working and supporting individual team members.
The Local Government Association has produced an Employer's Guide to help managers support the well-being of their staff.
It’s useful to consider practical tips for changing how you manage your teams to adapt to the current circumstances. Forbes have produced their top six tips for managing staff during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Acknowledge the difficulties
- Mitigate the strains of digital and remote communication
- Make time for emotional check-in’s
- Don’t defer support for additional needs
- Organise online well-being sessions
- Establish boundaries
To promote workplace well-being, you might want to consider creating a ‘Pause Pod’, if your setting allows. A Pause Pod is a dedicated space for staff teams to take a moment of calm, rest or quiet reflection. It can be used before, during or after the working day and this can be defined by your operational needs. It is a quiet, calming space where you may like to access some self-care resources, refreshments or just a space to sit quietly. You might use the room to host a positive messages board where you and your team can leave messages of thanks, admiration and positivity. To ensure appropriate social distancing, you might stipulate that no more than two staff members use the room at the same time and use signage to indicate the room is in use.
It can be difficult to remain motivated during a prolonged period of stress and pressure. This article from the Kings Fund explains why our motivation can be affected and gives practical suggestions to help support managers and leaders maintain their energy.
Support services and groups
Need mental health support at work? Able Futures can help you manage your mental health at work. Able Futures delivers the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. The support service is flexible and free to use.
If you are self-isolating and need help, then your local Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK (run by volunteers) can help you access local services, such as shops or pharmacies throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.
Information, help and support is available for those who are experiencing or know someone experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence during the coronavirus emergency.
Information, help and support is available for those who are experiencing or know someone experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence during the coronavirus emergency.
Majella runs online meet-ups for social workers everywhere to connect and share experiences, laughter and a bit of lightness to support ongoing work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Age Cymru is offering a check-in-and-chat telephone service for the over 70s in Wales who live alone. The initiative will help provide some reassurances to older people, answer basic queries and link people to local services and support.
The official twitter account for the Social Work Network provides daily updates, tips and resources on the coronavirus for social workers.
Children in Wales has developed a resource to help manage well-being during the coronavirus outbreak.
Well-being resources from trade unions
Trade unions are working in partnership with Social Care Wales to promote their wellbeing resources and support to care workers as widely as possible. The dedicated health and well-being page from the unions has information on courses, resources and tools that you can access for free.
The Wales TUC website hosts a series of bite-sized learning on the theme of Coping with Covid. The learning will give you tools and techniques to help you look after yourself during the coronavirus crisis.
Senedd Research provides useful information about coronavirus related to employment rights, benefits, business support, travel, food, retail, cancellations, education and lots more.
The Social Worker wellbeing and working conditions, Good Practice Toolkit is aimed at social workers in practice, social work supervisors, workforce development leads, managers, and leaders. For social workers in practice, the toolkit should help you be more informed and empowered to look after yourself better at work; recognise when you need support and how to access it; develop knowledge and skills to influence your organisation; and know your rights and what you should expect from your employer.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales has a coronavirus information hub for families and children.
The social worker toolbox has useful guides, tools and resources for parents and carers on how to talk to children about coronavirus.
Social Care Institute for Excellence has made available specific coronavirus advice for social care.
Children in Wales has developed a resource to help manage well-being during the coronavirus outbreak. The resource is downloadable; it includes tips on mindfulness, tips on how to relax and look after yourself during this turbulent time.
Blogs and articles
We have identified blogs and articles to help support you during the current pandemic. The aims of the blogs is to explore opportunities, share tips and ideas on how you could maintain your health and well-being.
David Robson published an article in the Guardian explaining how mental framing of stressful events can powerfully influence the ways we are affected by them. The research cited in the article points to how adopting a positive wintertime mindset could make a potential second lockdown a little less daunting.
Isolation and social distancing can have an effect on individuals’ mental health and can increase incidence and symptoms of depression and anxiety. A blog from John Hopkins University’s Dani Fallon, explores this issue.
In a blog from the Professional Social Worker magazine, two social workers share their reflections from working with children and families during the pandemic.