Life on the frontline in a care home during the pandemic – Mental Health At Work
19/06/2020

Life on the frontline in a care home during the pandemic

Colette

Care worker for Care UK

As part of the Our Frontline campaign to support the mental health of all those out working to protect us during the coronavirus crisis, we’ll be regularly sharing stories, tips and other thoughts about what life is like for them at the moment, in their own words.

Colette, a care worker for Care UK, shares her experience of the pressures she has faced working in a care home in this difficult time.


 

At Knebworth Care Home, my role is to support the home manager with the daily running of the home. This means supporting staff and residents with day to day activities, problem solving, and ensuring the needs and wishes of the people within our care are met and respected.

COVID-19 put my role under a microscope; you needed to cope with everyone’s emotions as well as your own. At times, you would get so overwhelmed you didn’t know how you were going to get through the day.

Staff at Knebworth Care Home show support for frontline workers.

One of the hardest things I have faced when working throughout COVID-19 is seeing otherwise healthy and happy individuals deteriorate and die​Dealing with death and grief: Dying Matters PDF COVID-19 is causing many people to die before their time. This can be very distressing for those who work with vulnerable people, who not only may feel bereaved themselves but may also have to support patients' friends and family. This guide can help.Free By: Hospice UK / Dying Matters View resource very quickly. Navigating the team and the relatives through the agony of losing someone, trying to be strong throughout their pain, and not really knowing where, or indeed if, there is a place for your own pain.

Personally, I think being around my colleagues and sharing fears and worries​Start the conversation Video 3 0One of the first, and easiest, things you can do to start improving mental health at work is simply to start a conversation. In this video, people from various industries talk about the importance of talking to someone.Free By: Dorset Mind View resource has helped my mental health. There are times where I have been sat in the office with my colleagues after witnessing a sudden death. We sit there all puffy faced and red from crying; it’s like there’s an unspoken bond between us, as if nobody else in the world would be able to understand how you feel in that moment other than the people in that room. It’s an indescribable feeling of solidarity, and I think without them, and knowing you’re not alone, I don’t think I could keep going. They get you through it.

Being on the front line during COVID-19 is like you’re running in a marathon

The only way I can describe being on the front line during COVID-19 is like you’re running in a marathon, but you have no idea how far you need to run. You just know you have to keep going because lives depend on it. You have to distance yourself from your family and from people you love because of the fear that you will transfer the virus or, worse, that you’ll carry it back into the home. You need to give everything you have, you’re emotionally and physically drained, but then you see the smile or laugh of a resident, and all of a sudden it’s all worth it.

A care worker helps a resident to use a mobile phone.

At the moment, while I still have a job to do and I’m fully focused on it, I feel like managing my mental health​Everyone: coronavirus and mental health Video 0 0During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, looking after your mental and physical health at work has never been more important. Acas have put together a video to help you look after yourself during the COVID-19 crisis.Free By: Acas View resource isn’t too much of an issue. But, I know at some point when COVID is over and I have a moment to reflect on the gravity of what has happened, it will hit me. I also know that when that happens, I’ll have my family and my work to get me through it, as well as all the individuals that I shared this experience with and that went though it with me. It’s times like this when you know that it’s not just a job.

Read more stories from workers on the frontline during the pandemic.