It’s not surprising that our patients and clients feel anxious at the moment, particularly if they’re unwell or are isolated from their family and friends. To make it even harder, many of the things we would normally do to help calm and reassure people, for example using facial expression or physical touch, aren’t possible right now due to PPE or social distancing. But in spite of this you can still do what comes naturally, as you’ve been supporting people throughout your whole career and the same skills can be put to use here.
Try to act in a calm and friendly way, communicate clearly and patiently, and remember always to give your name. Allow people time to voice their concerns and fears, and listen attentively if you can. Normalise their experience without making light of it, and remind them that feelings of fear, uncertainty and vulnerability are all normal. If people are experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety and panic, explain that these are part of our body’s normal response to threat, and that they’re not dangerous and will pass. Some basic anxiety management techniques such as breathing and grounding exercises can also work well, so have a look at the information we’ve put together for you here.
If you’re supporting people with a learning disability or communication difficulty, a range of free picture stories and illustrated guides have been developed by the charity Beyond Words and are available here.
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