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Supporting someone still in self-isolation

As lockdown rules are gradually relaxing, some people are having to remain in isolation because they are considered vulnerable to COVID-19. Being in isolation can mean losing some independence, as well as the disruption to one’s daily routine and social life. It’s understandable then if a loved one who must remain in isolation risks becoming frustrated or depressed as the rest of the world seem to go back to normal. 

If you have a friend or relative in this situation, here are some things you can do to make sure that your loved ones who remain in isolation stay well.

Helping by reaching out

Having to stay indoors for an extended period may make your isolating loved one feel detached or cut off from the world. By staying in touch through technology, you can help them feel supported and connected. 

Call regularly, whether by phone or video chat. When you speak, try to keep the following things in mind:

Be as positive as possible.

Try to avoid topics that might upset your loved one, especially if they are struggling with anxiety or worry. 

If they are feeling afraid or anxious, don't minimize their fears.

Let them know that you understand their concerns and make it clear that you want to help. If they need additional support, you could also suggest calling or using a telemedicine service to speak to their GP or a mental health professional. 

Remember that they still need to make decisions about their own life.

It’s OK to offer to help with things like groceries or pharmacy runs, but make suggestions rather than demands. Also be sure to ask what they need, and accept if they don’t want help. 

Be patient.

Allow your loved one time to complete their thoughts without interruption. 

Remember that part of feeling secure is feeling needed.

If your loved one feels a loss of independence or dignity, they may be keen to offer you help processing your feelings. If you feel comfortable doing so, talk about your own feelings and let them offer you some comfort.

Involving others

No matter how close you are to a loved one who is in isolation, you should not be their only support network. Involving others can help your loved one feel more connected while also spreading the responsibility for checking-in across several people.

Here are some ideas for ways you can help others get involved: 

  • Have a regular family or friend group video chat 
  • Set up a rotation of regular calls or video chats between a group of people 
  • Start a family or friend text group to stay in touch throughout the day 
  • Start a regular virtual game or quiz night 
  • Ask friends and neighbours to drop by and—while maintaining a safe distance—say hello to your loved one

Helping out

There will be small crucial tasks that you may be able to assist your loved one with like doing a food shop, going to the post office, or charging car batteries that have become flat from lack of use. Always be sure to ask what they need help with before turning up to do a task to help the person in isolation maintain their sense of independence. 

If you live too far away to help with tasks, encourage your loved one to get in touch a local volunteer organization that helps vulnerable people who are isolated. You might search online, at a community centre, or at a house of worship.

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