The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published advice on how care workers can look after the mental health of those they care for as well as themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
There is specific COVID-19 guidance for care workers of older adults, those with complex health conditions and people in isolation. The WHO warns care workers that "managing your stress and psy-chosocial wellbeing during this time is as important as managing your physical health".
It advises that "older adults, especially in isolation and those with cognitive decline/dementia, may be-come more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated, and withdrawn during the outbreak/while in quarantine".
Care workers are advised to "share simple facts about what is going on and give clear information about how to reduce risk of infection in words older people with/without cognitive impairment can understand. It may also be helpful for information to be displayed in writing or pictures".
Care workers in isolation are advised to stay connected, maintain social networks and try to maintain their personal daily routines. The WHO guidance advises: "Some workers may unfortunately experi-ence avoidance by their family or community due to stigma or fear. This can make an already chal-lenging situation far more difficult. If possible, staying connected with your loved ones including through digital methods is one way to maintain contact."
The WHO has said that the strategies to benefit general feelings of stress are the same, even if the situ-ation is different. For example, the advice highlighted the need for care staff to take rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat enough healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in con-tact with family and friends.
WHO guidance, Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak, is available here.
Last reviewed 24 March 2020