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A guide for preparation, response and recovery
7.7 Mental health and psychosocial support
Patients being cared for at home or under home monitoring may feel particularly isolated and anxious. Practices should make regular contact with such identified patients, depending on the level of need. This may be as simple as a weekly phone call. They may also require supplies of regular medications, organisation of routine pathology testing, or instructions on how to access updates on the pandemic.
In a severe pandemic, enormous pressure may be placed on practice staff as frontline workers. Those who are in close(r) contact with potentially infected patients are at increased risk of contracting influenza. There may be fear of contagion, particularly in relation to infecting their own children or other family members. Practice staff may be dealing with increased numbers of distressed or even angry patients. Extended working hours, insomnia and fatigue require management, particularly in pandemics of a longer duration.
Support for staff is important to enable efficient practice functioning. It is essential to remind all staff that their most important health priority is their own; they cannot help their patients or families if they fail to look after their own mental and physical wellbeing.