Those of us working in the aged care industry are used to change. We’ve been adapting and modifying the way we operate to make things better for those who need our support as they age, but right now, we’re facing something that is forcing us to adapt and modify practices at an even faster rate.

sunflowers in the field in summer, text says 'look after yourself'.

It can be exhausting, concerning, and at times – overwhelming.

We don’t have all the answers. How close is too close? What does ‘close contact’ mean? How do I support someone while managing physical distancing? What if our whole workforce is affected?

Yes, I’m talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. People are worried; worried about their families, their clients and the impact this will have ultimately on our society and our economy.

We know things are ramping up. We have been working with organisations who are dealing with known cases of the disease in their community. They tell us it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

We know that those of you on the front line of caring for the frail aged or people with a disability may be called in to work longer hours as more of your colleagues need to self-isolate.

We know that you or your loved ones may contract the virus, impacting on your health and ability to work.

However, we’d like to take the opportunity to reassure you that the pandemic will eventually end. It’s what you do now though, that can make a difference in how well you manage in this crisis. So here are some tips.

Look after number one – that’s you.

Make sure that you are getting sufficient rest. Resist the temptation to binge watch all the re-runs that will be showing on TV and Netflix at this time. Aim for your 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Eat well. This is a great opportunity to resist the temptation to eat junk food. Instead, fill your plate with fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy grains, and eat your greens – you want to get all the antioxidants you can to improve your immune system.

Minimise self-medicating on alcohol. Our liver breaks down and filters out harmful substances in the blood (including alcohol) and manufactures hormones and enzymes that our body uses to ward off infections. Let’s not overload it at this time and make it work harder than it needs to.

Plan, plan, plan

Review your response plans and make sure your staff know what to do if all hell breaks loose. For anyone who is still pulling together a Pandemic Response Plan, or would like an example for comparison, here is a link to examples (Community Care and Residential Care).

Keep up to date with information

Subscribe to reputable sources and bookmark key links. Avoid the sensationalism or ‘fake’ news that you might see on Facebook. Instead, use social media to keep in touch with family and friends.

A couple of key links to Commonwealth Government resources are below for quick reference:

Take regular breaks from the busyness and stress of work

Yes, we know the workspace may look a little different right now, perhaps fewer people as more work from home, but wherever you are working from, you still need to take regular breaks and rest and refocus your thoughts.

If you are able to, take a short walk outside or sit near a window with a view.

Look at ways you can continue to connect with colleagues and friends

Here at CDCS we use the ‘Zoom’ platform so we can physically see each other and have a level of interaction that is that ‘next level’ above a teleconference with audio only.

Sure, you may need to get used to having your ‘video face’, but honestly people look past this, it’s really all about connection… although it will be interesting to see how we all go if we need to cut our own hair, or let our kids at it!

Keep a positive outlook

Australians are known for their sense of humour and taking the ‘mickey’ (meaning to make light of something/ someone – not to ridicule). Look for lighter moments where you can, although try to avoid getting caught up in endless Facebook scrolling.

If you capture a great photo of something positive or nice, share it with others.

Keep talking with others

Use the phone and call team members or colleagues who may be working in other communities or centres. A quick call to see how things are can help reinforce that you care and are interested in their wellbeing.

Look at other novel ways to interact and maintain morale within your team and clients.

Perhaps play a virtual game of pictionary.

Set a challenge of writing a poem relating to their experiences or taking a photo… but set some boundaries so people know what the aim is and you don’t offend anyone.

Check out ‘A Lasting Tale’ on Instagram by Dimity Brassil and her challenge of ‘a question a day’ aimed at finding out more about our seniors. Dimity can also be found at www.alastingtale.com.

And if you need some support, resources or just someone to talk to at this time, please reach out. Our email address and phone numbers are on the contact us page. You can also find some free COVID-19 response resources by clicking here. Let’s all work together.

COVID-19 Working safely storyboard image
Get this storyboard as a downloadable PDF on the COVID-19 response resources page linked above.

From our team to you and yours, take care out there.

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Carrie

Carrie is a passionate advocate for the provision of quality, community based, aged care.
In her spare time, while she ages gracefully, she helps out with kids theatre, rides an electric bike and drags her husband off to explore the world as often as possible.