We know this is an incredibly difficult time.

Everyone is working hard to sustain support for people who use their services as well as each other. As we deal with the consequences of the pandemic you may find you need to take on a new role or work differently. For example, you may be providing care and support over the phone or by using technology rather than carrying out face to face visits.

Your role might have changed. You may be working on your own more than usual, without close or direct contact with your colleagues. Whilst there may be some positives in this new way of working, we recognise some people may be feeling anxious, worried or stressed about the support they provide to unpaid carers and staff.

Your wellbeing matters. This guide offers advice and information which may be of interest to you within your role.

It aims to help you look after:

  • your own wellbeing
  • others for whom you provide care and support
  • your colleagues

Please use this information and speak with colleagues if you need support. We hope there is information here to enhance your confidence and help you share learning with others.

Please visit the National Wellbeing Hub to find information and advice for people working in health, social care and the third sector. It includes advice on your everyday needs at home and work, tips on coping, professional resources and information on where to find help. You can also contact the Hub by calling the new helpline number 0800 111 4191.

Front page of National Wellbeing Hub

Looking after yourself: taking care of yourself

In these uncertain times, our usual ways of doing things, our habits, have been interrupted.

We are all being asked to change how we:

  • live
  • look after ourselves
  • interact with people
  • work.

COVID-19 has created many challenges and making the changes suggested may be difficult.

Click on each category below to learn more.

It’s OK to not feel OK at this unusual time. If you feel that things are more difficult or challenging than usual or if you notice differences in your mood, speaking to someone about it could help. There is a range of support available to help you with your mental health and wellbeing.

When we are busy taking care of others in our work, we can forget to pay attention to our own needs. To be able to look after others safely and effectively, we first have to take care of ourselves. Taking care of yourself will help you to take care of others. You can use this PDF, content courtesy of NHS Education for Scotland, to help remind you to look after yourself and to protect your wellbeing.

infographic on working in a crisis: looking after yourself.

Our normal way of life has been disrupted during the pandemic.

Many of us will be affected by the direct impact of the virus itself, as well the indirect impact through changing roles at home and at work. For some this will include some adapting to working from home alongside significant childcare and/or other responsibilities.

We may also be dealing with isolation and shielding. Here are some resources to help with some of the issues that arise for many of us.

Working from home can present issues you might not have encountered before.

It can have an impact on your wellbeing and mental health, and it can be hard to maintain a work/life balance. But there are some practical measures you can take to help make a difference to your mental health and wellbeing.

Key points

  • If possible, establish a designated workspace.
  • Take regular breaks throughout the day to stand, stay hydrated and get away from your desk.
  • Switch off your phone and computer when you are finished working.
  • Set yourself clear boundaries about home and working times.
  • Make sure you have regular contact with your line manager and colleagues via phone calls or video technology.
  • Take the time to speak to friends and family.
  • Get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis.
  • If you need to take time away from work to attend to childcare or other caring responsibilities, then do so. Tell your colleagues you are taking some time away. You can make up the hours later in the day. Make sure this arrangement is agreed with your line manager.

The COVID-19 pandemic will affect us all in different ways- emotionally, physically and socially. You and the people you support as a carer support worker will experience varying levels of stress, anxiety and even hardship.

When you are working at home you will have to connect with people and maintain relationships by phone or through video technology. You should acknowledge that engaging with people who become or are distressed can have an impact on your own wellbeing. It’s vitally important that you look after yourself.

Even carers who are normally calm may quickly reach boiling point when services are reduced, their own stress levels have increased or if a person being cared for is causing issues. Anxiety about the easing of restrictions or frustration at the pace of coming out of lockdown can result in anger and even feelings of a loss of control. This anger can spill out in telephone conversation. Here are some tips on what to do in this situation.

  • Show empathy. Don’t become defensive. Acknowledge their anger.
  • Remain calm. Don't respond by raising your voice or changing the tone of your voice.
  • Try and find some point of agreement if you can.
  • Ask the carer what they would like to happen and how they the think situation could be resolved.
  • Don’t make promises. This is a difficult situation and you are not in control of when services will resume etc.
  • Don’t take it personally.
  • If necessary, remind the carer that verbal abuse is not acceptable

Following challenging phone calls it is important that you contact either your manager or colleagues to off load. If this is an ongoing issue, put it on the staff meeting agenda to discuss. Make a note of the issues raised by the caller and what you advised them to do. Try and take some time away from desk. Go for a walk, take a deep breath - do whatever it takes to help you feel calm. It may be that your manager will have to step in if difficulties with the carer persist. Discuss this with her/him and see if there is a need to have a protocol in place.

Equal Partners in Care (EPiC)

Working in partnership with carers results in better outcomes for everyone involved – for the cared for person, for the carers and, ultimately, for the service. EPiC is intended for all staff who come into direct contact with carers in their day to day jobs. It is also intended for anyone with a workforce education and learning role, and/or managers who support the workforce to improve outcomes for carers and the people they care for.

Scottish Government COVID-19: returning to work safely

Guidance for workers and employers on returning to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scottish Government COVID-19: advice for unpaid carers

The support currently in place for those who are shielding, in terms of free grocery boxes and priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, will continue throughout this time.


If you are a member of the health, social care and relevant third sector workforce, which includes carer centre staff and feel that you would benefit from some extra help in managing your wellbeing, you can access the Sleepio resource. The clinically evidenced sleep improvement programme is fully automated and highly personalised, using cognitive behavioural techniques to help improve poor sleep.


All health and social care staff in Scotland, which includes carer centre staff can access the Daylight resource for free. Daylight is a mobile app which delivers practical cognitive and behavioural techniques to address worry and stress.

NHS Mental Health Apps

The NHS has developed a range of mental health apps.

SSSC COVID-19 working safely guide

The SSSC has a short working safely guide to support you and your colleagues with practical tips on working from home.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Wellbeing planning tool

This wellbeing plan helps you to recognise when changes are affecting you negatively and to plan how to respond in ways that are helpful for your own wellbeing.

Meditation 1010: A Beginner's Guide

Are you interested in meditation? Watch this two minute animation video

Scottish Government mental health support for health and social care staff

All health and social care workers in Scotland will now have access to mental health support 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the new national helpline.

Looking after colleagues: how can we support our staff and colleagues?

All of our lives have been changed by the pandemic.

You and your colleagues are dealing with the impact of this in your home and your personal lives, and the space in between.

Your staff and colleagues may be dealing with their own health issues and the vulnerabilities of family and friends. They may be juggling work and caring responsibilities.

The new 'Leading in a Crisis' resource provides links to guidance and learning resources that will support those leading and supporting others in crisis situations.

People’s emotions are heightened, and some may feel a loss of control over what is happening around them. A good leader is able to recognise this and balance their leadership and management capability to support others to move through the crisis.

For managers of carer services, it is vital that you receive support during this time. If issues arise around supporting mental health of carers or staff, reach out to others in carer services through the Care Centre Managers Network Meeting or email Karen Martin, Mental Health Development Coordinator.

Supervision is central to:

  • monitoring tasks and workload
  • solving problems
  • supporting workers in dealing with complex situations
  • moral and ethical dilemmas
  • promoting staff development
  • supporting the emotional wellbeing of staff

It aims to provide accountability for both the supervisor and supervisee and has a focus on developing the supervisee in a way that is centred on achieving better outcomes for carers who use your service. It is especially important in a crisis situation when people may need more, or different, support.

'Step into Leadership' has a range of resources to support good practice in supervision.

The National Wellbeing Hub, set up for people working in health and social care in Scotland, provides a range of resources to support peoples’ wellbeing during the COVID-19 crisis. It includes resources to support managers support their staff.

A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers from the Harvard Business Review provides an overview of some of the challenges of remote working and ways of overcoming these, including how to use supervision.

A leader relies on those around them to work well together in a crisis.

Crisis situations will vary from person to person as carers react to their situation in different ways and workers cope with change in different ways. People can become overwhelmed and demotivated in a crisis situation. It is a balancing act for managers to continue to motivate and inspire at such times.

Here are some tips to help you achieve this.

  • Be sensitive to staff needs.
  • Encourage staff to share concerns and learn from each other.
  • If you are aware of another member of your team who could help out a worker with a particular issue, suggest this.
  • Work as a team to try and solve particularly difficult/challenging situations.
  • Maintain effective communication with all members of the team.
  • Use supervision as a time to support the wellbeing of staff especially if they appear to be in a crisis or are responding to a crisis situation.
  • Help the worker reflect on what happened, what worked well, what didn’t, and what could be done differently next time.
  • Do not be afraid to take criticism if there was something identified which you, as manager could have done.
  • Equally be prepared to give constructive criticism or comments if necessary but be sensitive about how you do so.

The resources below may be of some use. Written mainly for health and social care services, they also have some good tips for workers who are supporting unpaid carers and managers of such services.

Psychosocial mental health and wellbeing support

This resource supports the mental health and wellbeing of you and your staff members. Includes sections on managing stress, coping and resilience.

SSSC Supervision: a space and place for difficult conversations

This resource supports you develop your awareness of the different kinds of challenging conversations which belong in supervison and how you might be better prepared for these.

Flexible Working

These guides have been developed by Flexibility Works to help businesses and employees adopt strategies to adapt during COVID-19.

Looking after yourself and others during COVID-19

This resource is designed for anyone who leads, in any capacity, in any health and care organisation and support your understanding, knowledge and skills.

SSSC COVID-19 resources

These resources align with the suite of SSSC COVID-19 resources to support managers, social service workers, carer support workers, volunteers and carers

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees

ACAS have developed specific employment guidance and information during COVID-19.

SSSC logo NES logo National Carers Organisations logo
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