Between March 2nd and May 1st, 12,526 care home residents deaths involved COVID-19. This does not include those that passed away whilst receiving domiciliary care services. Here we will look into what support is available for those grieving in care homes.
With this significant rise in deaths, we ask what support is in place for the care workers, managers, and nurses that are grieving for those they have lost?
In truth, there does not seem to be a lot of practical support.
Yes as care workers we have a lot of experience dealing with death. However, our residents are the most at-risk group and when COVID-19 gets into a home, it has often led to disastrous results.
Our coping mechanisms are built for dealing with the death of a resident where we have had the opportunity to make them as comfortable as possible. Surround them with love and family, after all every resident feels like an extended part of your own family.
We could never be prepared for the scale and frequency of the deaths we are seeing in our care homes.
But COVID-19 is robbing residents, their families, and the care team around them of the opportunity to show the kindness and love that people deserve at the end of their lives.
Families are not allowed into the homes to say goodbye to the person that raised them. Care workers, that do not have adequate PPE, are terrified that they are going to pass coronavirus further round the home. Which impacts how people are cared for.
Some people may be feeling guilt for being afraid of caring for someone with COVID-19. If you have any sense of guilt, please stop now. You have been called up in more troubling times than any care worker before you. That feeling of fear will have made you careful and might have saved more lives than you know.
What support is available for those grieving?
There are also bereavement charities that offer support one type of service is Cruse Bereavement Care.
No better support is available to us, than each other and ourselves. These are exceptionally challenging times and what we need is kindness.
Before you worry about your colleagues, start with yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating properly? Make sure you are taking time to exercise, as this is great thinking time. Call friends and family and enjoy the company of people you love.
You can only help others if you are fighting fit! So be sure you are doing the above!
What can you do for others?
The very best thing you can do is listen. There is a lot of heartache and people are going to need to get it off of their chest. So ask how people are doing and ask twice. Because people won’t want to put on you straight away.
Do not worry about saying the right thing. All you can do is be honest by acknowledging their pain and be there for them.
These pressures are affecting everyone in the care home. The manager, the carers, and maintenance teams, as well as the domestics and kitchen staff. Treat all with kindness, including yourself.
As we learn more about the support available for those grieving in care homes, this blog will be added to.