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Published 19 May 2022
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-and-wellbeing-of-the-adult-social-care-workforce/health-and-wellbeing-of-the-adult-social-care-workforce
Applies to: England
COVID-19 remains a risk and it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others.
Find out what you need to do to stay safe and help prevent the spread.
The government has published its plan for living with COVID-19.
The government recognises the dedication and commitment shown by all our care workers and organisations to keep people with care and support needs safe during the pandemic. Care workers, caterers, cleaners, nurses, occupational therapists, personal assistants, registered managers, social workers and others have all had a crucial role in ensuring that people’s needs are met.
While the global pandemic is not yet over, we are now learning to live with COVID-19. For some, there remains uncertainty about the path the pandemic will take. Social care staff may still be concerned about several things, including the following:
This guidance includes tips, advice and toolkits that employers and managers can use to help build the resilience of their team and address any concerns their staff may have. There is also a section that provides guidance on how all those working in social care can manage their personal mental health in the current circumstances.
It’s crucial that all those providing care and support – both employers and employees – take some time to think about their own colleagues, residents and family’s health, safety and wellbeing now more than ever before. The resources included below will help to put in place solid foundations that can be built on in the future, beyond COVID-19.
The government is committed to helping staff recover from their extraordinary role in helping the country through the pandemic. Following the publication of the ASC reform white paper in December, the government will be delivering services such as a listening service, talking therapies and coaching, as well as improving access to occupational health services.
It’s essential that employers are reinforcing the message that staff wellbeing remains an utmost priority. Some workers will face increased isolation in their work as well as their personal life and many will face a period of increased pressure and anxiety.
Below are some useful tips and advice available on how employers can take care of the wellbeing of staff at work.
The British Psychological Society has put together a guide aimed at leaders and managers that provides practical advice on how to respond to how staff may be feeling during difficult phases of working and living through the pandemic.
Similarly, the Local Government Association has put together some key steps that they recommend employers take in order to support and protect the mental health of frontline staff at this time.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in partnership with the Chief Social Workers of England have developed guidance for the support and wellbeing of adult social workers and social care professionals.
Employers can encourage their teams to create a Wellness Action Plan and encourage them to share these with line managers. This is a personalised and practical tool for employees to use to identify how to address what keeps individuals mentally well at work and what can result in poor mental health. It also opens up a dialogue, helping supervisors better understand the needs and experiences of employees.
Registered managers can find advice on maintaining team resilience on the Skills for Care website. It includes various guides. One gives examples of things that can be done to reduce workplace stress and the other provides examples and case studies of adult social care employers that have developed the wellbeing of their staff by building resilience.
For registered managers, peer support is extremely important. Skills for Care has opened up its members Facebook group to other registered managers and frontline managers in similar roles. This is used to share advice, experiences and good practice.
Similarly, registered manager networks can offer local support and are establishing WhatsApp groups to allow registered managers to stay in touch.
Skills for Care also provides an advice telephone line (0113 241 1260) and email inbox (email@example.com). Further support from Skills for Care for registered managers can be found in the links below:
deputy manager networks provide an opportunity for deputies to build supportive networks and share experiences and ideas with others
registered manager webinars are 30-minutes long and cover a range of topics to support managers and their services. They are all delivered to a live audience and recorded for further viewing
Good and Outstanding care (GO) range of resources draws on practical examples from Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports and regulated providers, to share best practice, help managers prepare for inspection and improve their services
For home care workers, personal assistants and those working in isolated services, the nature of their work may mean that they already feel isolated. Skills for Care provides guidance on how to support staff who regularly work alone. It includes a section on supporting mental health and wellbeing and on communication and support.
This is in addition to Skills for Care’s existing guidance for people who employ their own staff and personal assistants, which includes where to find information about local support.
To maintain the provision of good-quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential that people who provide care and support can quickly and clearly communicate with primary care services, hospitals, community health services, local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, pharmacists and health services.
Digital Social Care has published lots of guidance and advice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on best practice for information sharing and how technology can be used to support staff and the people they care for. They can also be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for technical advice.
Skills for Care has developed the Workforce Wellbeing Resource Finder, which makes it easier for employers and staff to locate relevant wellbeing resources.
Wellbeing has been a key focus in Central Bedfordshire since they participated in a research and wellbeing project in 2019, in partnership with Bath Spa University and with support from public health and other council departments.
Bedfordshire has recently expanded their offer and now has wellbeing champions and mental health first aiders in place.
They have 4 key streams to their workforce wellbeing approach and have adapted them in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Central Bedfordshire has implemented a workforce and wellbeing cell that provides a clear focus on the needs of the workforce. They help to identify and support any member of staff affected by COVID-19 and provide a point of contact.
The Bath Spa University Healthier Outcomes at Work (HOW) app and wellbeing toolkit were developed with input from practitioners and they went live in October 2019. The university has supported an update to the app to ensure that content includes COVID-19-related information. It has further enhanced its support and extended access to the social care workforce.
Staff wellbeing is promoted through newsletters, and staff are able to express the diversity of their working days through videos, cards, drawings, stories and poems.
Staff themselves have introduced initiatives, such as meditation, yoga and physical exercise sessions.
Central Bedfordshire have produced guides for adult social care staff and managers to enable practice conversations about death, dying and traumatic situations.
If you cannot work from home, we are no longer advising that you do not attend the workplace. Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to you the measures they have put in place to keep you safe at work.
Although the shielding programme ended on 15 September 2021, there are a number of actions that employers may consider in managing individual risk:
employers should have individual conversations with all members of their workforce who have underlying health conditions or are otherwise identified as being at increased risk, before a return to work or a return to a previous role
if the employee can continue to work from home in their current role, they should be supported to do so
where it is not possible to work from home, wherever possible, staff at increased risk from COVID-19 should be supported to work in roles or settings which have been assessed as lower risk – for example, in office functions or by performing lower-risk activities within their normal role
Employers should continue to assess risk and respond flexibly to factors which may increase risk in the workplace, such as an ongoing outbreak, or an increase in the community level of the virus.
The following are key steps to supporting your mental health:
add structure to your day and try to get into the habit of a daily routine – you might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week. It’s also important to keep doing things you enjoy as this can give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood
exercise – take a look at our section on physical wellbeing below. Your physical health has a big impact on your mental wellbeing. Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, which provide stress relief and also boost your mood
connect with people – maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Try and stay in touch with family and friends via telephone, video or social media, particularly if you are feeling anxious
try not to continuously check the news – 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. If this is having an impact on you, try to limit the time you spend engaging with the media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times during the day
maintain a regular sleep pattern – good-quality sleep can have a positive impact on how you feel both mentally and physically. Every Mind Matters gives advice on how to get a good night’s sleep
seek help if you are struggling – you can send a message with FRONTLINE to 85258 to start a conversation with Shout’s messaging support service. If you want to speak with someone directly, you can call Samaritans on 0300 131 7000 between 7am and 11pm every day. There are a number of other helplines that can offer expert advice
Every Mind Matters provides comprehensive support, tips and ideas on mental health and wellbeing.
It’s important to find new ways of coping with increased pressure and being able to recover from difficulties. Skills for Care has a guide on how to build personal resilience. The guide includes tasks for you to complete that help you to recognise pressure and stress. It provides advice on developing your resilience through emotional intelligence, accurate thinking and realistic optimism.
MindEd provides free educational resource on children, young people, adults and older people’s mental health and has a coronavirus staff resilience hub to help manage the mental health and wellbeing of frontline staff.
The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety provides good advice on managing worries that you may be having.
For further information and support, take a look at:
Try to keep active. If you are able to, go outside for a walk, run or bike ride once a day, as fresh air is extremely beneficial for your mental health.
If you are not able to exercise outdoors, there are several online workouts that you can follow at home. Public Health England provides free, easy 10-minute workouts and the NHS Fitness Studio also has a collection of accessible exercise videos.
Take care of your basic needs, as set out by the World Health Organization (WHO):
Ensure rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat sufficient and healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in contact with family and friends. Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing.
Financial wellbeing is about a sense of security and feeling as though you have enough money to meet your needs. It’s about being in control of your day-to-day finances and having the financial freedom to make choices that allow you to enjoy life.
Mind provides advice on managing debt and the positive steps you can take to address this.
Citizen’s Advice offer some specific COVID-19 advice on what to do if you are struggling to pay your bills. This includes rent, council tax, mortgage, energy bills, court orders and tax bills. It is important that these bills are not ignored as this can make the situation worse. Please do read the advice and seek support to help you out.
You can contact the National Debtline for free, confidential and independent advice on dealing with debt problems.
The Money Advice Service is an independent service set up by government that works to improve people’s financial wellbeing across the UK. It gives free, impartial money advice through its online portal, over WhatsApp, and over the phone.
It provides guidance across a wide range of money matters, including a number of useful tools and calculators to help people manage their money. If your finances have been impacted by COVID-19 the Money Navigator Tool can help you identify the support you may need and provide tailored information and guidance.
There is further COVID-19 guidance for employees on GOV.UK.
It is important that your rights as a worker are protected, especially during these challenging times. Similarly, you have a professional duty to act if you are concerned that the safety of those that you care for is at risk. If you have any concerns about employment practices, it’s important that you raise these.
First, any concerns should be raised with your senior management team. There will be guidance in your workplace about what to do.
You can contact your union or professional body, if you have one, for advice about what to do if you have concerns. They can play a helpful role in trying to resolve any problems you may be facing and improve workplace practice.
Finally, if you want to report a serious case of bad practice or have been unsuccessful in resolving any issues with your organisation, you can contact CQC and local council safeguarding teams.
Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
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‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort