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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

COVID-19 - Advice for carers

Caring for someone who is unwell can be difficult at any time, but with the current coronavirus pandemic it is probably feeling a lot more worrying and stressful as one carer has said “it’s like being in a pressure cooker”. 


When we care for someone, we do what we can to have all of the answers. We prepare in any way we can to prevent further stress and this probably feels more difficult as the guidance/situation is changing so quickly. 

We are all in this together. 

Support is available for you, both locally and nationally, where you can get advice and support on practical things and be listened to. 

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Connecting with other carers on Zoom    

Every Friday at 10am carers have been getting together virtually on Zoom to talk, share and support one another.  The meeting is led by carers, currently we are looking at and discussing the 5 steps to wellbeing as suggested by a carer.

The session last an hour, and the Trust are taking the feedback received from carers and feeding it back into the Trust or taking action on it where possible.

If you have never used Zoom before please do not that put you off joining, we can talk you through getting online.   Please email: Carer.Involvement@southernhealth.nhs.uk  

Below is some feedback from carers who have already joined our zoom session:

“That was brilliant. Thank you for setting it up.”

“Thank you very much for launching today which I thought was very successful.”

“It was relieving to see, listen and talk with carer individuals in the same boat under similar circumstances.  It is a hard life for carers, on the job every day and not knowing when we would see daylight.  This is increasingly more difficult as the Covid-19 isolation period extends further.”   

Refer families, friends and carers to telephone peer support service:  
During a zoom session a carer suggested that other carers would really benefit from a regular call from a carer peer support worker so that they have someone to talk to who understands their circumstances. 

“Talking to others who understand what it is like to care for a loved one with mental health challenges has helped me through some very difficult times. Sharing insight & experiences, empathy and respect has helped me cope when the chips are down because I have felt listened to and understood. The Covid-19 Pandemic has heightened the ongoing feeling of isolation that Carers can face. Being able to share ideas about what can help makes a vital difference.” – Jan, Carer. 

We have been working with the Princesses Royal Trust for Carers in Hampshire who are now ready to receive referrals from staff from across the whole Trust, and geographical area. 

Staff 
If you notice or hear a carer, family member or friend say or demonstrate that they are struggling you can ask if they’d like to be referred for this telephone support. The support can be a one off or regular phone call to be decided by what the carer would prefer. The call will be from a staff member or volunteer from the Princesses Royal Trust for Carers in Hampshire who will provide listening support to carers, family members and/or friends of Southern Health patients.  

Calls will be returned to the carer within 48 hours of receiving the referral and in cases where the carers are very distressed the Princess Royal Trust for Carers will accept a phone referral and contact the carer, family member or friend sooner.  

Carers
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers will also receive self-referrals so if you are a carer, family member or friend of a patient of Southern Health you can contact them directly.   

“Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Hampshire are delighted to be working with Southern Health who have recognised that carers need that extra layer of support in these unprecedented times and have contacted us to provide this service.” Kerry Hearsey Chief Executive Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Hampshire. 

The referral should not include personal or treatment details of the patients or your loved ones care. The referral needs to only include: 

        
  • The service that the patient is using     
  • The carer, family member or friend’s name      
  • Contact number     
  • Why you are making the referral e.g. the carer mentioned they are struggling, feeling isolated, not sure where to go to for support, wanting some help 

 Email referrals to info@carercentre.com If it’s extremely urgent then call 07833 289600.

Talking to the person you care for about COVID-19

You don’t have to try very hard to read or hear about the current COVID-19 pandemic. The language alone can feel scary. When we hear about the impact its had on other countries and the risks to older people or those living with an underlining health condition, it can make our worries and concerns worsen for those we care for and ourselves.

That’s why it’s important to listen to the simple advice that the NHS have given by staying at home and social distancing, washing our hands and covering our mouths when we cough. We must anchor ourselves in this practical advice that we can all follow and only go to reputable sources for information such as www.gov.uk and www.nhs.uk/coronavirus 

You might be concerned about how your loved one is reacting to the COVID-19 news. Remember, you know them best and if you do decide to have a conversation about it or they bring it up, it might be because they are worried. It is important to talk to them calmly and honestly. If they are worried, remind them whilst many people are becoming unwell, most of those people are recovering. You can also remind them that the NHS are ready to support those who do become unwell.    

People with autism
Talking to adults and/or children who are living with autism about COVID-19 and supporting them to deal with the changes to their lives can be difficult. The National Autistic Society are providing information and guidance. Visit https://www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/coronavirus.aspx   

People with a learning disability
For those who care for someone living with a learning disability please go to Southern Health website www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/services/learning-disabilities/   Mencap have good guidance on supporting someone with a learning disability at this time www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/health/coronavirus-covid-19

If your loved one is on an inpatient ward:
The Trust's guidance on visiting inpatient wards in subject to change at any point in line with national or local policy. For the most up to date guidance please click here. We want to do what we can to help you keep in touch and stay connected with your loved ones during this difficult time. We would encourage using digital means like social media, phone calls and skype, emails and texts.

If this is something you need help with talk to people you know who can help, our staff will do what they can to help keep you and your loved one connected while you’re unable to visit. We have created an email address: Stayingintouch@southernhealth.nhs.uk for friends, families and carers to send letters and pictures to your loved ones whilst they are on a ward. Staff will make sure your loved one gets an email you send to them through the above email address. We will make exceptions in certain circumstances, please get in touch with the team to discuss this with them. 

If you care for your loved one at home:
Consider putting a contingency plan with friends, family or trusted neighbours, should you become unwell yourself. The Royal Princess Trust for Carers in Hampshire and Cares in Southampton can support you with this (details below).

If you do not live with the person you care for please contact the community team they are being supported by directly to stay in touch about the support your loved one may need. 

Going out 
We understand that its more difficult for you to self-isolate and your need to go out to get necessary items for your loved one is very important. To get support you or your loved one can register for support with getting deliveries of essential supplies like food. If you are not sure whether their condition makes them vulnerable, you can register anyway. www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable         

Online shopping is a great way of getting food delivered and saving you having to go out. Supermarkets are reserving delivery slots for those who are vulnerable to COVID-19; these slots are hidden online so you have to call up to book them.  

Looking after yourself
It’s important that you try to stay connected as normal as possible. Try using digital ways like social media, phone calls and skype if possible.

Advice from a carer “Use your phone to try connect with someone to talk to, it might be in different way but we all need to stay connected”.  Perhaps your current mechanisms for coping and support are currently not available, think about using technology and finding alone time to do something you enjoy are new temporary ways to cope and get the support you need. 

Here are some top tips on how you can stay well when self-isolating or working from home:

       
  • Establish a daily routine. Routines help to provide structure and purpose.      
  • Balance your weekly routine so you have a mixture of work, rest and leisure.            
  • Set daily goals to provide purpose and a sense of achievement. This might include working through a list of things you keep meaning to do but never get round to!   
  • Identify triggers that make you feel low and look for ways to reduce or manage them.    
  • Talk with family, friends, neighbours (using mobile, laptop, tablets etc.) to keep in touch and support each other.   
  • Take care of yourself. Eat and drink healthily with plenty of fruit, vegetables and water to support your immune function and energy levels.    
  • Avoid staying still for too long. Exercise and regular movement will maintain fitness and strength. If you are working from home take regular breaks.    
  • Have a good sleep routine. If you are struggling, avoid caffeine in the late afternoon/evening, take a bath, use blackout curtains, list to gentle music or deep breathing exercises. 
  • Hydration. We all need to stay hydrated, particularly if you’ve been unwell or are over the age of 65. For more information please visit wessexahsn.org.uk/projects/204/hydration-at-home     

Employment       

You may need additional flexibility at work during this time. We encourage you to speak openly with your employer and understand your rights as an employee - you may be entitled to additional support if someone is dependent on you for care. Find out more at about carers rights and your rights during COVID-19 outbreak. Visit www.acas.org.uk/ or www.workingfamilies.org.uk/ or call3000120312

Getting prescriptions            

If you haven’t already, let your GP know that you are a carer. This can help them provide you with support and understanding, you are also entitled to a free flu vaccine as a carer.

Contact your regular pharmacy to discuss arranging delivery for you or your loved ones’ medication. Many local pharmacies offer free deliver service, or can arrange for a volunteer to deliver to you. Find a pharmacy near you www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-pharmacy

There are many online prescription delivery services, search free prescription delivery online.

You can arrange for your GP to send prescriptions directly to a pharmacy near you. Visit www.nhs.uk/ search electronic prescriptions 

If you have a phone with apps on it (smart phone) or a tablet, you can download the NHS app from the play store/apple store for free. The NHS App lets you book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view your patient records. Go to the play store or apple store on your phone or tablet. 

Mental health support for you and those you care for

For urgent mental health support, you can call NHS111. Please note NHS111 are the main contact for the urgent calls on COVID-19 at this time, so please bear this in mind if you call them. If you feel there is an immediate danger to yourself or others, always call 999. 

Here is some additional information about mental health support from our campaign Every Life Matters.      

What to do if you are concerned about the person you care for out of hours 

If you are seriously concerned about the person you care for or they have shown worrying signs or dramatic changes to behaviour, we would advise you to contact the crisis team below. 

  • Acute mental health teams/crisis support teams: 

  • Southampton Team (Antelope House) 02380 835535 / 02380 835552 
  • East Hampshire (Elmleigh, Havant) 02392 344562 
  • North Hampshire Team (Parklands, Basingstoke) 01256 817718 (out of hours - 01256 376507) 
  • West Hampshire Team (Melbury Lodge, Winchester) 01962 897726 

Additional support

Lifeline | 13 11 14 | When life gets too much and you find it hard to talk, text 0477 131 114

We are all feeling the changes and the impact this can have on carers affects them and those they care for, reach out and find emotional support where you can.

“Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation.”  

Dementia Support      

Alzheimer’s Society - Living with dementia at any time brings everyday challenges for the person and those around them. Coronavirus is making daily life much harder. You may feel anxious, scared or lonely. But you are not alone – help is available.

During the coronavirus pandemic Alzheimer UK have advice and practical tips for people living with dementia and those supporting them – either in the same household or from a distance. Anyone affected by dementia or caring for someone with dementia can call their  support line on 0333 150 3456. 

Local support services for carers in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth 

Andover Mind - Carer Support Service

Andover Mind provides a carer support service for all carers in Hampshire (excluding Portsmouth and Southampton) who are aged 18+ and provide care to an adult. This service is not just for carers of people living with mental health conditions or dementia) but for all carers.

Phone: 01264 332297  Email: enquiries@andovermind.org.uk  Website: www.andovermind.org.uk/  

Carers Together 

Carers Together is a carer-led charity that provides peer-led support to carers, no matter what their age or for whom they care. This includes: information, advocacy, advice (including benefits advice), personal support planning, direct payments advice, personal health budget advice.  It runs carers support groups (face to face and virtual) to encourage self-directed and mutual support. It enables carers to live their own life well and to plan/prepare for a good end to their caring responsibilities.

 

It runs the Carers Active Listening Line (CALL), a helpline for carers to phone and speak to someone in confidence about any caring issues they may have. It provides free emotional, practical and non-judgemental support and is available 365 days a year.  The CALL service can also take referrals from professionals or carers to make telephone contact with any carer who needs support.  Call on 08000 3 23456. For more information please click here.

Carers in Southampton - A service for those living within the area of Southampton City Council. Phone: 023 8058 2387  Website: www.carersinsouthampton.co.uk
Connect to support, Hampshire - 
A website and app full of useful resources and information for carers, those living with health conditions and staff. Website: https://www.connecttosupporthampshire.org.uk/ or search for "Connect to support Hampshire" on your app store.

The Royal Princess Trust for Carers in Hampshire 

Offering information on being a carer and emergency care planning. Phone: 01264 835246 Website: www.carercentre.com |  

National Organisations 

  • Calm - a movement against suicide, offering support and advice to all. Phone: 0800 58 58 58 
  • Parent Support Link- supporting families and friends of those with substance misuse. Phone: 023 8039 9764 
  • Sane - charity providing emotional support, guidance and information to anyone effected by mental illness including families, friends and carers 
  • Young Minds - children and mental health charity who also provide support for parents.  Parent’s helpline: 0808 8025 544 
  • Hub of Hope - a directory to lots of services both local and national (directory of support services in your area) 
  • The Silver Line – a helpline for older people (free): 0800 4 70 80 90 
  • Samaritans - support for anyone in crisis. Phone any time on 116 123  or email jo@samaritans.org 
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