20 Jan Wellbeing: Caring about connection
Welcome to our Wellbeing blog. Each month we’ll be sharing ideas and advice about how to keep well and look after yourself during these challenging times – and beyond!
We’ve written this for those working on the frontline, like our Care Workers – but really, anyone will benefit from taking a few minutes out of their day to ask:
How am I feeling? What can I do to feel better?
This month’s focus – Connection
This month’s wellbeing focus is connection – taken from our 7 Ways to Being Well model, which has been specifically designed to refocus attention on outcomes that support individual wellbeing. It’s a more person-centred approach to delivering care, one that also considers quality of life and promotes independence, allowing people to remain at home for longer.
Research tells us our wellbeing is important – it makes us more resilient when things go wrong, it makes us healthier with fewer illnesses, and it could help us live up to 7 years longer. With the third national lockdown now in full swing, looking after ourselves by staying connected is more important than ever.
Care Workers, in particular, play an important role in our communities right now – providing not just care, but conversation and a smile. They might be the only person someone sees that day, so having time to connect is important.
Why do we need Connection?
Connection with others is a basic human need. Having positive relationships not only produces hormones in the brain that make us feel warm and fuzzy, but it also helps protect against stress by boosting the immune system. Simply put, connecting with other people is vital to staying well.
Many of us may be feeling a little out of sorts as we’re seeing family and friends less than we’d like. Hugs are out of the question and face masks get in the way of how we communicate and hide our expressions.
Perhaps you’re feeling a little lonely or isolated, or just not yourself. Try not to worry, it’s to be expected – fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to try and overcome lockdown loneliness or help someone else who’s in need of connection. Here are our top tips for staying connected:
How to stay connected
- Ask yourself how are you feeling right now? Are you feeling isolated or do you have enough support?
- Think about setting a personal goal, something achievable – perhaps you’ve lost touch with an old school friend, or want to call a relative more often?
- Consider if you need help with learning how to use digital tools to connect with others. Ask someone you know if they can help, or read this helpful advice on Connecting Digitally, provided by Age UK.
- Take the time to call a friend or family member – Video-chat apps like Skype, FaceTime or Zoom are a great way to connect.
- If possible, arrange a time to have a meal with your family or digitally with a friend – cooking is also a great way to relax. Try BBC Goodfood for some new free recipe ideas.
- Try switching off the TV to talk or play a board game. Or host a digital ‘Games Night In’ for your friends. – MacMillan Cancer Research have put together a handy pack for those looking to have some virtual fun.
- Find a local Meetup Group and meet someone new at an online event.
Remember, feeling lonely from time to time is perfectly normal – you’re only human after all! The recent lockdown has made it more difficult to see people and we’re all having to find new ways to keep in touch.
Making plans to talk with people throughout the week can help with feelings of loneliness. And, even if you’re feeling OK, it’s possible you know someone who’s not. Sending a quick text to say “Hi, thinking of you” only takes a minute, but might make someone’s day!
Connecting to our communities
There’s so much more to Care than meeting personal needs. It’s the small, everyday things our carers do that can make all the difference. This is especially so in lockdown where many family members are having to limit visits to loved ones and connecting digitally is a challenge.
Here’s how Kali Gilligan, one of our team of fantastic Care Workers in Leeds, is helping the people she cares for stay connected. Plus how she’s looking after her own wellbeing during this third lockdown:
“I’ve been supporting a lady who’s 95 years old to stay in touch with her family. She now uses her Alexa device to video call her daughter and nephew. I’ve also been ‘face timing’ the other carers who visit her on my days off, just to say ‘Hi’ and make sure she’s doing OK. She’s such a lively person – we’re always having a laugh! I really enjoy helping people live the lives they want. It’s not just about providing care, it’s about seeing people as individuals.
Right now, my mental wellbeing is really good, despite everything going on with Covid. This last lockdown hasn’t really changed anything for me. I’m used to the routine of working and then coming home. Though I do miss a good night out! It could also be because I’m used to staying in touch with family using social media and video calls. Most live far away in Surrey and Ireland – there’s even a few living in Canada!
I think it’s important to make sure you’re speaking with people on a regular basis. It’s something I feel lucky to have at work – a close team who are friendly and who I feel happy to open up to about all sorts, not just work.”
We’ve also been hearing some wonderful feedback from the people we care for, after receiving their Winter Wellbeing packs (which you can read more about here). Here’s what they had to say:
“I love the care I receive, the carers are all wonderful. A big thank you. Thank you so much for the pack and the £10 gift card.” – Service User, North Tyneside
“Having someone cheerful coming in and saying hello. Doing their job well with respect and always asking if you are ok. Thank you very much for the Xmas present – what a lovely surprise! Used the tea bags and pen, and will enjoy spending the gift card at Tesco. Saving puzzles for boxing day.” – Service User, North Tyneside
“Thanks for all you do for me. They are kind and sincere and cheer me up when I am having a bad day. My daughter appreciates the calls they make to her when things aren’t so good. Very happy at present. As a family we would like to wish all at Be Caring a great 2021.” – Service User, Liverpool
“Having my regular carers makes me feel safe and I like having a chat and a laugh with them. My wife feels confident that if there is a problem, my carers and the office try to sort it out. All carers are friendly and treat me like a human being. At first, I was nervous, especially as I need personal care in the mornings. But now I feel comfortable and am treated with dignity. Thank you to you all, I would be lost without you.” – Service User, Manchester