It’s been a tough few months, with those requiring care at home likely to have been more affected than most. Here are some ways you can help them regain a sense of normality.
There’s no doubting that the last three months have been a stressful time for almost everyone, from parents juggling home school and home working, to business owners worried about when they might be able to open their doors again. But one group of people who will have been affected more than most are those who were already receiving care or support from an OT for illness or mobility issues. The isolation, the worry about contracting the virus and the uncertainly about the future may well cause this particular demographic more anxiety than the rest of the population. OTs have had a tough role, providing emotional support as well as the usual physical and living help. As restrictions start to ease, there is the opportunity to help patients start to feel calmer and regain a sense of normality. So while here at Recliners we’re more used to making patients comfortable in the physical sense, we’ve been doing a bit of digging to find out the kind of things that will help them feel more relaxed during these unusual times.
While the worst of the pandemic might be over for now, things won’t feel the same again for some time. One way to help patients feel better is to just be normal. This might feel hard as you are clad in PPE, but when times are strange a bit of normality can really help people feel grounded. So try to avoid talking about the latest news from the pandemic, and focus instead on the kinds of things you might usually discuss. The garden, the weather, their family. This can help ground them and forget the situation outside.
But don’t ignore worries
Of course, some patients will want to discuss the situation and their worries, and if that is the case, it may well be best to let them do so. Giving them a means to air concerns can be a way of helping them manage them. Where possible, a reassuring word here and there can be invaluable too.
Keep them connected
When lockdown began, many patients will have been inundated with calls from friends and family. As restrictions ease, so the frequency of these calls might, but patients stuck at home or shielding may only have limited social contact. Encourage them to contact family and stay connected. If they haven’t already got a Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp account, help them set one up. Seeing loved ones on video can make a huge difference in how connected they feel.
Encourage healthy habits
One of the best ways to manage anxiety is to maintain good physical health, through a healthy diet and regular exercise. So encouraging healthy habits becomes even more important than usual during stressful times. Now might be a good time to revisit diet and exercise plans, to make sure your patients are looking after themselves. If exercise regimes had to be paused because of restrictions, you could look at whether it is possible to help your patients start getting out and about again.
Look after yourself first
The aeroplanes are onto something when they tell you to fit your own mask before helping others. You are best able to be a calm, reassuring presence for others when you are feeling relaxed and in control yourself. There’s no question this has been a highly stressful time, especially for those in key worker roles. So as things start to return to a version of normal, take some time to check in with yourself. Have a bit of time off. Take time to connect with others, and do a few things you enjoy. Your health and wellbeing need to come first, in order that you can continue to help your patients as best you can.