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Care for Carers

Care Staff Wellbeing

The COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be a particularly challenging and stressful time for care home and staff. All staff, including care staff, domestic staff and managers have been affected.

Research shows that stress and anxiety have been high and especially so in homes that have experienced a serious outbreak. Conversations with care home managers, staff, providers and sector leaders have identified common issues which are negatively affecting the wellbeing of care home and supported living staff. These include:

  • Anxiety around a first or another outbreak in their home
  • Bereavement and grief following the deaths of people living in care settings, colleagues and also those in their own family and friendship groups
  • Physical and emotional effects of wearing PPE, especially masks
  • Pressures of time on managers – particularly the volume of guidance, paperwork and reporting to various agencies
  • Long hours with a lack of breaks and annual leave
  • The negative effects of limited or no visiting into the care setting on those living there and also on staff
  • Uncertainty around the lifting of lockdown and what that means for care settings
  • Uncertainty and stress caused by financial pressures

Reports found that in some care homes, staff throughout the pandemic were struggling emotionally with not only the loss of residents but also with the constant fear of the risk of infection to themselves and to their families. This was having a particularly negative impact on the mental health of some staff, including staff needing time off and having anxiety attacks.

At Kew care group, our staff teams help to support our residents in their physical and mental health needs by offering a listening ear and gentle, dignified care. But who supports our staff? We do- by listening, offering practical as well as emotional support. Every staff member has a Wellness Action Plan that they have worked on with the Management team so that we know what might be a trigger for them and what to look out for. It might be that they need a chat, or that chatting is the last thing they want to do and they just need a day off - it is different for everybody and this really helps us to offer mental health first aid to our staff that suits them. At the moment, friends and family cannot provide the usual emotional support in person but we are using the phone, face time, Skype and letters. And we are encouraging residents and staff to use the natural world outside to help them through this difficult time.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and may well have suffered additional stress as a consequence. It is important this is considered when looking at their wellbeing and ways of supporting them that are targeted and specific. Whilst conversations SCIE (Social Care Institue for Excellence) has had with the sector have highlighted concerns around wellbeing for BAME staff, there is little in the way of specific guidance or practice examples at this time. We would welcome links to any relevant resources or examples of supportive practice from the sector. Please contact us.

Learning tips we've found useful

  • Staff benefit from regular and reliable support to maintain mental wellbeing, including time and space away from their everyday tasks.
  • Offering staff the time and opportunity to share their concerns with colleagues and experienced care workers.
  • Providing options for both emotional and practical support - contributing to wellbeing and enabling staff to access support in a way that they feel comfortable with.

There are more support networks than ever before so if you need help or know someone who does, here are some guides and resources.

BAME workforce: COVID-19 recovery and beyond (Skills for Care)

Wellbeing and support line for health and social care workers (Samaritans)       This includes a guide for managers

Guidance for managers and decision-makers in supporting care home workers during COVID-19 (COVID Trauma Response Working Group)

My Home Life resources for staff (My Home Life)