The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is fast becoming a major health and social care challenge of our time. We recognise that care workers across Wales are responding rapidly and flexibly to keep vulnerable people safe and well, by meeting their emotional and personal care needs at a very challenging time. Responding to this pandemic means care workers will be working regularly under pressure and in unfamiliar and rapidly changing circumstances.
This can be stressful; cause anxiety and you may have concerns about your own health and well-being. We have developed this health and well-being resource to support care workers to stay well, seek help and support when needed.
The resource provides a direct link to tools, websites and other useful resources to support mental and physical well-being. We also include information about general support groups and services you can access.
We hope you will find this resource useful in maintaining your physical and mental well-being over the coming challenging weeks and months.
Some of the information included has specific references to England and Scotland, the general advice still applies to the whole of the UK; and some of the information is only available in English.
Due to the ever-evolving nature of the current situation, these resources may be updated however we will aim to keep this 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 below
Frontline 19 offers a free and confidential emotional support service for workers on the frontline of Covid-19. The service is simple to use and matches you with a qualified therapist.
Our Frontline: support for social care workers. Our Frontline can be contacted by text FRONTLINE to 85258 (any time) and to talk by phone call 116 123 (any time). The service and website also host a collection of resources, tips and ideas chosen to support mental health.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Anxiety UK will be extending its helpline hours to provide additional support in the evenings until 10pm and over the weekend between 10am - 8pm so that they offer support to as many people as possible who need help (03444 775774).
If you are worried about your mental health and emotional well-being during the coronavirus crisis, Samaritans run a free and confidential help line service. The confidential service operates 24 hours a day and has a dedicated Welsh line.
Maintaining your physical well-being
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.
The British Association of Social Workers Cymru has published part of a COVID-19 feedback survey; with over 1000 social workers sharing their experiences and challenges of working in the pandemic. The information includes shared best practice and actions that are useful in supporting social work teams.
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.
Social Work England provides information and support for social workers concerned about the coronavirus and the significant professional and pressures the pandemic poses for social workers.
Unison provides a comprehensive source of information on coronavirus advice for social care workers.
Good mental well-being
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.
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.
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.
NHS UK has a number of apps to help you maintain your mental well-being. Most of the apps are free to download.
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.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists has published guidance on staying well when social distancing.
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.
The Scottish Mental Health Charity website hosts resources and information on things to do to look after your mental well-being during this time
Many people will be experiencing anxiety about their health and safety during this time, the Royal College of Psychiatrists website provides information about COVID-19 and how to manage your mental health during the pandemic.
General 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.
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.
Financial support and debt advice is available for social workers from the British Association of Social Workers website.
Advice for pregnant workers
As at 16 March 2020, pregnant women are advised against unnecessary social contact and are considered to be an “at risk” group. The NHS guidance says if you’re pregnant, it’s important you follow the advice to:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Follow advice on social distancing – such as staying at home as much as possible
- Stay away from anyone in your home who has symptoms of coronavirus.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has published occupational health advice for employers and pregnant women during the Covid-19 pandemic. The advice can be helpful when discussing how best to ensure health and safety in the workplace with line managers. Further information on coronavirus and pregnancy including advice on attending antenatal care during the pandemic is also available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.
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 burn out
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.
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.
Senedd Research provides useful information about coronavirus related to employment rights, benefits, business support, travel, food, retail, cancellations, education and lots more.
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.
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.