Life throws us unexpected challenges, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been no exception. Patients and staff in care are amongst those who have faced the worst of the implications of the past year or so. As a carer, it is as important as ever to ensure the wellbeing of both your patients and yourself. Addressing your mental health can help you overcome the daily struggles that you may encounter in your role.
The bonds created between carers and their patients often means that the frequent changing of patients, unexpected loss, and the general stress of the job, can take their toll. The feeling of isolation while having to navigate these uncertain waters can sometimes be turbulent and disheartening.
Learning how to cope with these changes and emotions will help you overcome the adverse experiences that you will face in your career in the care industry, and allow you to better appreciate your own worth to those around you, who are supported each day by your selflessness as a carer.
Taking the appropriate online training can go a long way to preparing you for the challenges ahead.
We take a look at what situations you might be faced with when becoming a qualified carer, providing our recommendations of ways to deal with them.
How to cope with loss
As a carer, you will be working with vulnerable and often elderly people. Working on the front-line in this battle against COVID-19 means that those that you care for will be particularly at risk from the virus and life may be lost in the care environment that you work in, as a result. Whether you are an experienced or inexperienced carer, coping with the loss of a patient can be very difficult. You may show vulnerability or want to guard against appearing weak or incapable of dealing with these hardships that the profession presents you with. However, working in care can be a highly emotional occupation, so you should look to those around you for support, be friends, family or colleagues.
Providing professional care requires developing trust with your patients so that they feel comfortable and secure in your presence. The bond that forms is real and, as such, can lead to feelings of sadness, grief and anger, should the patient pass away. Even experienced healthcare professionals still feel this same sense of grief or loss over their patient’s death, but with time comes wisdom, and the process of handling loss does get better.
Don’t be ashamed or afraid to express your emotions associated with a patient's death, it's human nature. Talk through the scenario with a loved one, friend, or colleague. Getting this off your chest will provide relief and leave you more prepared if you experience it again.
How to deal with the grieving process
Grief can be rather debilitating for anyone, so ensuring that you maintain a good work/life balance could go a long way to helping you cope with it, allowing you the opportunity to take your mind off your job so you can reset, ready to go back. Remember to take some time out every day for yourself - these moments of introspection can have a very positive effect on your well-being.
The importance of those around you should not be underestimated either. Maintaining close bonds with your own family and friends gives you a network of support for when someone in your care environment passes away.
If you are still struggling, speak to other professionals around you. They will not only offer you the best, first-hand advice, but they will help you feel supported and will enable you to focus on the job at hand, continuing to care for other patients.
Appreciate the relationships that you have with your patients, and the value you provide in their life, is immeasurable but enormous. Remain confident in your abilities and continue to care for your other patients with the same level of devotion.
Adaptive coping, reacting to these situations in a responsible and positive manner, is essential to helping reduce stress and preserving your mental health. Your role as a care worker means that you are more likely to experience the loss of a patient, however, this should serve as a reminder to continue working with empathy and compassion for those in your care. Never underestimate the difference you are making for those around you.
What support is available for carers?
There are many platforms available to assist, guide, support and offer expert advice to carers during their career. It’s important that you don’t feel a sense of isolation and that you can ask for help, should the need arise.
There are several ways you can get support through websites, online forums, local directories and helplines. Some of these websites that offer this kind of support are listed below:
What are the important issues for carers?
Carers need to adapt to their patients' situations and these can vary from patient to patient. It’s important to reach out when they are feeling lonely to avoid a sense of isolation from friends and family.
The psychological effects of caring for patients in pain and critical conditions need to be acknowledged and managed. Avoiding this can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, anger and fatigue. Make sure you take a break to process your emotions so that they don’t interfere with your work.
Lastly, personality clashes happen in all facets of life and can occur between a patient and carer too. Try to detach yourself from frustration to remain professional and focus on providing optimal care for those in need.
What are the basic needs of carers?
There are a couple of basic needs that a carer should be provided with and this includes medical assistance, counselling support, respite care, access to necessary equipment and education.
Although we are still experiencing a global pandemic, your education doesn’t need to take a back seat. You can still get educated through online training to become a certified carer through e-learning and webinars. Courses such as the Care Certificate training will ensure that you are prepared to fulfil your responsibilities as a carer, according to CQC guidance. Take a look at our blog What is the Care Certificate? to find out more.
Why do carers need support?
Being a carer is an occupation of mental, physical and emotional obstacles. It is also a profession of great reward. Being valued and appreciated when under strain can be the motivator to overcome challenges. Healthcare guardians need support too, how else will they continue protecting the well-being of the most vulnerable?
If you’re a carer, or you’re training to become one, looking after your mental health is paramount in being able to execute your job professionally. Reach out for help when you need and remember that you are not only making a difference in your patients’ lives but the lives of their families too. Take a look at our Health and Social Care training page to discover the ideal courses to help you become the best carer that you can be.