Family, friends & colleagues

Family, friends & colleagues

My family, friends and colleagues

Your ties with your family, friends and colleagues are more important to you now than they’ve ever been. So here’s some information we’ve put together that might help:

For many of us, our biggest worry is that we’ll pass the virus on to loved ones. If you’re worried about this, try to stay as informed as you can be about ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones from infection. The best place for reliable and up-to-date health-related information is the NHS Inform website, where you’ll find advice on measures you can take to reduce the risk of infection.

Remember, if you have symptoms that you think may be caused by COVID-19 or you’re living with someone who has symptoms, you need to follow the Scottish Government’s guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

Families who have children with a disability may need more support at this time, so to help with this the Scottish Government has produced a COVID-19 support page that pulls together lots of relevant information, including advice on your rights, access to services, and links to an extensive range of organisations that have adapted their services to offer further help. You can find the Scottish Government support page here.

If your child has autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder or a learning disability, it may be hard for them to manage all the changes to their routine and the increased anxiety that’s around at the moment. It’s important, therefore, that they’re given clear information about COVID-19 in an accessible way. You’ll already know what kind of things usually help your child when they’re worried, but keeping them busy and active is usually best, along with relaxation and self soothing strategies that can help reduce their anxiety. Enable have produced easy read information about COVID-19, and there are also hand washing tips for people with sensory difficulties.

Cartoons or pictures might help, Child Friendly Explanation of Coronavirus  and the Resilience Alphabet for Kids is a Toolkit of 26 words and activities for children aged 7-12 years of age, to help them to build inner strength and resilience during Covid-19.

We know that COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, including older people and people with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. So please be extra vigilant if you’re living with vulnerable family members, and if you’re in a household with possible coronavirus infection, please note the specific advice on living with vulnerable family members, detailed in the official guidance here.

The Scottish Government has also issued tailored guidance for people living with the following conditions: ophthalmic conditions, cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, neurological conditions, rare diseases, respiratory conditions and rheumatic conditions. This guidance can be found here.

If you have an elderly or vulnerable family member who does not live in your home you should try to keep in touch using phone or video calls, but it’s also okay to drop shopping or medication at their door or to help them order what they need online.

You could share this booklet with older relatives to help them think about how they can stay well during the pandemic

If you or an elderly member of your family needs extra help, please don’t be afraid to ask, as there’s lots of support out there. You can contact your local services or the following organisations might also be able to help:

Alzheimer’s Society

Age Scotland

The Silver Line or telephone their help line 0800 470 80 90.

Your children are probably more aware of what’s going on than you think and the chances are that they’ll be sensing something’s wrong. So no matter what age they are, it’s important that you look after their mental health at this time. Talking about COVID-19 can be difficult, but it’s important to give children and young people the chance to express what they’re feeling and to ask any questions they may have. So speak to your child calmly and if they don’t want to talk, give them space. During this time, letting children offload their worries and offering them reassurance is often enough. However, if they’re looking for your help and advice, remember to try to be optimistic. Be truthful in what you say, take an honest and accurate approach, and adjust the amount of detail to fit their age. Cartoons or pictures might work better for younger children: Child Friendly Explanation of Coronavirus.

The British Psychological Society has produced a document that shares some of the things we know can help with anxiety and making difficult decisions: Managing uncertainty in children and young people: Advice for parents during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BBC Bitesize website also provides a number of helpful articles:
Eight ways to support your anxious child during the coronavirus pandemic
Six ways to support your child as lockdown eases
What if lockdown has been a relief for my family?

Parentline have helpful advice on talking to children about coronavirus.

A lovely little book for children has been produced by Anne-Mette Lange, clinical psychologist, and illustrator Marie Geert Jensen. It contains tips for children on how they can take care of themselves and have good days: Good days in unusual times.

Another great little book for children, written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts, and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: Coronavirus A Book for Children.

The Resilience Alphabet for Kids is a Toolkit of 26 words and activities for children aged 7-12 years of age, to help them build inner strength and resilience during Covid-19. There’s also a Resilience Alphabet toolkit for the 13-16 age group, that can help young people work through and express their feelings and thoughts during this time of change. You’ll find the toolkit for young people here.

It ‘s natural that children will have questions and worries about Coronavirus, and giving them space to ask these questions is a good way to alleviate anxiety. Again, try to be honest in your responses and if you don’t have the answer, it’s okay to say you don’t know. At the moment, there are questions we don’t have answers to, so you can explain this to your child and tell them about the things people are doing to try to answer these questions. Maybe your child has an idea too and you can let them tell you about it or create drawings. Lastly, remind your child of the most important things they can do to stay healthy: they can wash their hands and learn to “catch it, bin it, kill it” when they cough or sneeze.

As sources of good information are key at this time, we’re recommending the following websites:

Young Scot COVID-19

BBC Newsround



Aye Mind

Losing someone you love is difficult enough in any situation but if you’re cut off from the people who would normally support you, or you haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to your loved one, this is going to feel even harder. Emotionally, you may be feeling numb, angry, frightened, disorientated, overwhelmed, depressed, guilty or confused. These are all normal reactions, so please don’t be telling yourself that there’s a right way to do this.  You’ll grieve in your own way, at your own pace.

Sometimes one of the hardest things to face is other people’s reactions. Often they struggle to know what to say and they might even try to avoid talking to you in case they say something wrong. This is hard, particularly if you want to talk about your loved one or about the circumstances in which they died. So if you don’t find the support you need from family and friends, and you want to talk to someone in confidence, there are bereavement charities and organisations that can help. For example, the charity Cruse offers a telephone help line on 0808 808 1677, or you can find resources on their website here: Cruse.

PETAL (People Experiencing Trauma and Loss) is also offering bereavement counselling to anyone bereaved by COVID-19. You can phone them on 01698 324 502 or email and you’ll find more information is on their website here.

The way that grief affects children and young people can be very different from the way it affects adults, so knowing what to say or where to find the right services can really help. A useful website for children, young people, parents and professionals is:

NES Talking to children who are bereaved

Relationships can be difficult at the best of times, but add COVID-19 into the mix and even the strongest couples will feel the strain. There are things that you and your partner can do, however, to support each other and get through this difficult time. One or both of you may be working from home just now, so take a look at your working hours and discuss how you can make them work for you both. Most people don’t usually spend all day every day with their other half and you or your partner might be used to having time on your own time, so accept that this is tricky for both of you. Try to let your partner have a little space each day and ask them to do the same for you. You might find that you’re more worried about COVID-19 than your partner, or vice versa. What’s certain though is that you’re both different people and your responses to what’s currently going on are going to be different. These are strange days, but you may not ever have this much time together again, so try to see the positives and make some good memories together if you can.

If you feel that you need professional support, this website provides information about relationship and counselling support, as well as guidance on mediation and help for people separated from their partners. You can also find out about local counselling services, including what happens at counselling and how much it costs, by visiting the Relationships Scotland website.

If home doesn’t feel like a safe place for you at the moment and you need to talk to someone in confidence, find help here.

Just because it’s more difficult to visit friends and family at the moment, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch. Video calls are the next best thing to meeting up, so why not give that a go? If the technology is new to you, here’s a guide to setting up a video call: BBC step by step guide: How to video call your family.

Connecting Scotland have put together some really useful tips and guidance for staying connected with others through the internet. For the not so tech-savvy, they’ve got advice for choosing the right device for you, as well as tip sheets and videos for getting you started on the basics like sending emails and making video calls. Click here to visit their website.

Looking out for one another at work is always a good thing, and is particularly important right now.  Working in a supportive and cohesive team can protect us when we’re working in high stress and high pressure environments.

Do your best to maintain the routines and structures, both formal and informal, that work for you and your colleagues in normal times. Protect time for team activities; formal meetings and informal coffee breaks, either in real life and virtually. If Wednesday was the day you all had a breakfast roll together, then try to still do this. These routines and this informal social support are at the heart of what keeps us well at work.

Remember to include colleagues who are self -isolating or shielding as it will help them to continue to feel informed and a part of the team. If you have new colleagues, take time to get to know them. For people who have been shielding and are now coming back to join you in the workplace, here are some tips put together by our colleagues in NHS Forth Valley: Supporting colleagues returning to the workplace after shielding.

It’s likely that you may be feeling similar emotions or struggling with similar things to your colleagues so it can help to have informal chats either before/after or during your shift. Sharing some of what you’re experiencing, for example, stress, missing the routine you used to have, worries about family or friends, or talking about ways you have adapted to life at the moment, can help to remind colleagues that they are not alone in this and it is normal to find thing difficult. It may also help to inform colleagues of support that is out there, for example this website.

If you would like more information on how to effectively support those around you during this time, click here for a presentation on Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is based on a set of principles that we know help people to cope with and recover from ongoing situations like those arising from COVID19. There’s an e-learning  module designed to teach the principles of PFA to anyone who is delivering health or social care which you can access here.

You might notice that a colleague seems more stressed than usual and see changes in their mood (irritable, tearful) or their behaviour (making mistakes at work, not joining in with banter). If you think a colleague is having a difficult time, it is important to know that there are many things you can do, that don’t need to take up much time in order to do them.

You could ask if they would like a tea break and simply ask something along the lines of “how are you doing at the moment?”, or say something like “things are a bit stressful at the moment aren’t they?” They may not open up there and then, and that’s OK, but it will let them know that you are someone they can turn to if they want to in the future. If they do open up to you, you do not need to try to counsel them or solve their problems. Listening is powerful in itself, and sometimes just knowing that someone cares is enough.  Remember you can signpost them to this website for tips on coping and/ or to find information about sources of help.

If you would like more information on how to effectively support those around you during this time, click here for a presentation on Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is based on a set of principles that we know help people to cope with and recover from ongoing situations like those arising from COVID19. There’s an e-learning  module designed to teach the principles of PFA to anyone who is delivering health or social care which you can access here.



First Minister's questions

Film of Nicola Sturgeon answering children’s questions on Parent Club

Gillian, Clinical Pharmacist.

“We’ve created a wellbeing lead and a NOVID zone”

Viv, Barnardos

“We have virtual coffee chats with each other and permission to be flexible with our hours”

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