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Family, friends and carers
Family, friends and carers


A family together at home

When your family member or close friend was unwell with COVID, you probably felt very anxious and worried about them.

If a family or close friend with COVID had to stay in hospital or self-isolate, it could have been very stressful for you because:

  • Your family or close friend was seriously unwell, and you were not be allowed to visit them
  • You may not have been able to find out as much information as you wanted to understand what was happening
  • You may have felt extra strain because your loved one was not able to support you with running your home

How you might feel as your family member or friend gets better from COVID?

When your family member or friend is getting better from COVID, they might have other problems with their body and mind.

Whilst they are recovering, you might need to:

  • Be more understanding and give your family member or friend more support than usual
  • Find a balance between caring for your family member or friend and supporting them to be more independent

This can be a difficult time. It is normal to worry about the support you need to give your family member or friend as they get better from COVID. This support is very important.

You can talk to your family member or friend about their recovery and help them focus on getting better and understand that this can take time. Some people find it difficult to accept that they survived COVID and can begin their recovery.

When your family member or friend was unwell with COVID, you may have felt:

  • Worried that they could die
  • Helpless
  • Tired
  • Anxious
  • Stressed
  • Upset

This can continue for you while your family member or friend is getting better from COVID. This is why is it also important to look after yourself.

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Looking after yourself

You also need to take care of yourself to support your family member or friend.

Sometimes relationships change because the person you are supporting does not realise how hard it has been for you. You might not tell them how you feel because you do not want to upset them while they are unwell.

Your family member or friend might be stressed or upset because:

  • It takes time to get used to the changes in their life caused by COVID
  • They find it difficult to manage their daily activities
  • COVID has affected their body
  • COVID has affected their mind

How your family member is feeling will affect how you feel too. Here are some things that can help:

  • Try to understand how supporting your family member or friend makes you feel
  • Try to take time out to do things you enjoy
  • Speak to someone if you find it difficult to manage your daily tasks while supporting a family member or close friend

There are many support helplines and local charities available for family members, friends and carers to get help and support:

  • – a charity run by intensive care patients and their relatives
  • – advice and support for carers and young carers
  • – the NHS website for England with information on health, treatment and services
  • - a site with lots of information that can support young people in crisis

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  • Take care of your health – make sure you are eating and sleeping well
  • Take breaks from looking after your family member or friend – give yourself time to rest and relax
  • Spend time with your friends – in person or on the phone, or by video call
  • Go for a walk or do some form of exercise if you can – exercise is good for your well-being and keeps your body and mind healthy
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you feel
  • Ask for support from: family, friends, a support group, community support, online information and your GP – please speak to your GP if your anxiety or stress becomes debilitating

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How to communicate with your loved one

  • Take time to talk about how everyone feels
  • Allow each other time to speak – it might take some people longer than others to give an answer or understand a question
  • Sometimes all you need to do is sit and listen
  • Listen to how your family member or friend wants to be supported
  • Try not to do too much for your family member or friend – you might want to, but it is better if they slowly do things on their own
  • Support your family member or friend to be more active and do things together
  • Respect the wishes of your family member or friend
  • Think about how you talk to your family member or friend because they might find it difficult to understand how things have changed
  • You may have to do things differently or more slowly
  • Give your family member or friend support but give them privacy and space too
  • Have a support network or group you can talk to

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You and your partner

If your partner had COVID, this could change your relationship in different ways. You might already have a lot to deal with, such as:

  • Work
  • Money
  • Family
  • Your own health

Now there is more going on, such as:

  • Appointments for your partner
  • Visits from health care workers
  • Changes to your daily tasks and plans
  • Lack of independence

Sometimes people find it hard to talk about personal issues for example, with self-care:

  • Needing more support from someone
  • Changes to your sex life or how close you are with your partner
  • How you are feeling
  • Being in pain

Be patient this should get better as they start to recover from COVID.

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What can I do if it feels like I have too much to do?

  • Focus on things that are most important at the moment
  • Prioritise the most important tasks
  • Give yourself time to rest
  • Problem solve and work together to support each other
  • Allow your family member or friend to do things in a way that works for them
  • Give yourself time to have a break away from your family member or friend
  • Get advice or support if you need it
  • Speak to your GP about local support services

There is a special NHS service called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies or IAPT. Your GP can refer you to IAPT or you can get in touch yourself. Find your local psychological therapy service.

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If you need more advice and support

The NHS offers emergency mental health helplines for:

  • 24-hour advice and support from a mental health professional
  • A mental health assessment to work out the type of support needed – Click here to find out more

There are several national services ran by charities that offer confidential advice from trained volunteers. You can contact them 24 hours a day/seven days a week.

Call 116 123 o talk to Samaritans, or email: for a reply within 24 hours.

Text SHOUT to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line.

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