Advice for family, friend and staff carers during coronavirus

A carer is someone who cares unpaid for a family member or friend, who due to an illness, physical disability or mental health problem may not be able to cope with day to day life without support.

The responsibility of being a carer can be a strain mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, and the coronavirus pandemic is putting increased pressure on carers. We've pulled together ten key messages to help you with your caring responsibilities, as well as links to useful information and other organisations who can offer you support.

And remember, our Sussex Mental Healthline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering crisis mental health information and support for service users, family members, friends, carers and staff. Call 0800 0309 500. 

Members of staff with caring roles

Don't forget, if you are a member of staff with caring responsibilities, you can use the Sussex Mental Healthline if you need support for your own wellbeing. Call 0300 5000 101.

Our top ten tips in more detail:

  1. Avoid danger at home: if your situation is extremely unsafe and you or someone else is in danger right now, because of your friend or relative’s mental health or behaviour – remove yourself from the  situation (and out of the house if needed), make yourself safe, call for help.
  2. Avoid conflict and argument: listen to and notice your relative or friend’s needs and concerns, help them to cope using healthy routines, past strengths and coping, and care plans.
  3. Make space and create independence: spend time in separate spaces – respect privacy - use headphones, earplugs, exercise and outside space for a quieter time.
  4. Ensure basic physical health needs are met: do look after your own and your relative or friend’s physical and dental health. Use physical health helplines and emergency services where necessary.
  5. Look after your own as well as your friend or relative’s mental health: notice dips in mood, stay connected, speak to friends, keep a healthy routine of diet, exercise and sleep, do things you enjoy, focus on things you can control and you can achieve, find positive ways to cope and relax.
  6. Minimise harm related to substance use and risky behaviours: reach a temporary compromise or make a plan to reduce harm linked to cannabis, substance use, eating patterns and other risky behaviours. This might involve minimising use or making safer alternative choices.
  7. Avoid drinking more alcohol than usual: Alcohol is a depressant. It lowers your mood over time, and increases risks of accident, injury, argument and aggression. Notice if you or your relative or friend are drinking more than usual – try to find other ways to relax and cope, and keep active.
  8. Make a suitable space for you, your family member and children to study or work: keep work and study separate from relaxation, rest and social spaces if possible – or tidy work away at the end of the day - and take regular breaks.
  9. Encourage and support your family member or friend to communicate through technology: they may need reassurance that technology is safe and secure, they may need support to set up and use technology to speak to their care team and friends.
  10.  Now is a challenging time to lose someone: If a family member or friend dies, talk to someone, take care of yourself, give yourself time, contact bereavement services if you need additional support.

You may also find the information on our dedicated carer's page useful: visit the carers page

Useful links

We know that there is a lot of information and suppport out there, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming and difficult to know what to trust. To help you, we've pulled together contact details and links to useful information in both your local area and across the country.