Caring for people with COVID-19

Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39) Photo: Elizabeth Perry/Anglican Alliance

On this page:

  1. Caring for people with COVID-19 at home – introduction and sheet of tips adapted from WHO
  2. Care for carers:
    2.1 General guidance on caring for one another
    2.2 Caring for people looking after people with COVID-19
    2.3 Care for professional caregivers
    2.4 Going deeper

1. Caring for people with COVID-19 at home

Different countries have different testing capacities for suspected COVID-19 infection, differing capacities to provide treatment in health facilities and different criteria for who is admitted to hospital. Consequently, as the World Health Organization (WHO) says, “It is important that you follow the guidelines in your own country about where to get a test and who should go to hospital for treatment for COVID-19 if the test is positive”. However, we know that many people with COVID-19, or suspected COVID-19, will be cared for at home, rather than in hospital. What do you need to know and think about if you find yourself having to look after a member of your household with COVID-19?

This page of guidance on caring for people with COVID-19 at home has been adapted from the World Health Organization’s interim guidance. It can be downloaded as a handout by clicking on the link in the resources section on the right of this page. The full WHO guidance can found here.

The WHO’s guidance is put into simple English in a series of posters here (scroll down the page to the part with the downloadable posters and look for the “COVID-19 home care” section).

The following links have additional useful information. The first, from the World Council of Churches among others, has practical guidance on sharing responsibilities and creating different zones in the household to reduce the risk of transmission of the infection.

2. Caring for caregivers

This is a stressful time for everyone. Love, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) are needed in our daily lives even more than usual. We therefore start this section with some general guidance on taking care of others in our household and community before moving on to resources aimed at those specifically caring for people with COVID-19.

See also the mental health and well-being section of our resource hub: here.

2.1. Caring for one another

Caring for others includes taking action to prevent the spread of the virus. See the knowing the facts section of our resource hub for advice on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

See also the sections on preventing the spread of misinformation on the knowing the facts page and tackling stigma and discrimination on the what churches can do page.

The following links are also particularly helpful. They come from a set of guidance documents  written by a partnership between the World Council of Churches and others and are designed to be relevant to people in low- and middle-income countries. Each link includes a reflection on how the suggested action reflects Christian teaching.

2.2. Care considerations for people who are looking after people with COVID-19

2.2.1. Monitor your own health

If you have been caring for someone with COVID-19 then WHO provides medical advice for you here.

In summary:

You should monitor your health for 14 days from the last day of possible contact.

Ideally the caregiver will be in regular contact with a health care provider whilst they are caring for someone with COVID-19 at home and this should be continued for the duration of the observation period. Also, health care personnel should review the health of carers/and patients regularly by phone but, ideally and if feasible, through daily in-person visits, so specific diagnostic tests can be performed as necessary.

The health care provider should give instructions to contacts in advance about when and where to seek care if they become ill, the most appropriate mode of transportation to use, when and where to enter the designated health care facility, and which infection prevention and control precautions should be followed.

If a contact develops symptoms, the following steps should be taken.

  • Notify the receiving medical facility that a symptomatic contact will be arriving.
  • While traveling to seek care, the contact should wear a medical mask.
  • The contact should avoid taking public transportation to the facility if possible; an ambulance can be called, or the ill contact can be transported in a private vehicle with all windows open, if possible.
  • The symptomatic contact should be advised to perform respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene and to stand or sit as far away from others as possible (at least 1 metre) when in transit and when in the health care facility.
  • Any surfaces that become soiled (come in contact with) with respiratory secretions or other body fluids during transport should be cleaned with soap or detergent and then disinfected with a regular household product containing a 0.5% diluted bleach solution.

2.2 2. Take care of yourself

Remember to take care of yourself as a caregiver. You are under stress and will be a better caregiver if you remain healthy and in good spirits. As well as taking precautions against becoming infected you should also take steps to care for your own physical, mental and spiritual health. You will want to think about what you eat and drink and how others can support you at this time. See our mental health and well-being section for ideas, whether you are the caregiver or supporting a caregiver.

2.3. Care for professional caregivers

There are many professional care workers – hospital staff, workers in other health facilities or care homes, ambulance staff etc – whose work may bring them into direct contact with people who have COVID-19, whether overtly or asymptomatically. This brings additional stress.

There are also many ‘key workers’ who, whilst not working in a clinical or care setting, also come into close contact with others, who may be carrying the virus, in the course of their work (for example police, shop workers, delivery people, receptionists etc). This too can create additional anxiety and stress, especially as they may be concerned about the possibility of taking the virus home and putting their family at risk. Guidelines have been developed by international organizations, charities and faith-based organisations to help manage these situations, and point people in the right direction for additional help and support. We have picked out the following resources as being particularly helpful:

  • The National Health Service in Scotland UK has produced a power point (in cartoons) illustrating some of these stresses and providing ideas on how to cope with them: Looking after yourself and others.
  • It is important to recognise that this illness puts health care workers in contact with very sick and dying patients, without the usual support structures. Sometimes the best ideas can be very simple. This is a nice simple idea that could be replicated anywhere: ‘Wobble rooms’ provided for NHS staff needing breathing space or a moment to cry: wobble rooms.
  • The UK Charity ‘Mind’ provides information in simple language with links to more detailed information (many of the principles are generic, but the links to professional bodies are UK specific):

Support for people working in healthcare and emergency services

Coping with going into work during Coronavirus

2.4. Going deeper

The US Centre for advanced Palliative care provides this resource on clinical care resources and mental health strategies for professional health care workers working directly in close contact with COVID-19 patients. It addresses issues of burnout and provides links to additional resources here.