Coronavirus Information Centre
We're continuing to review the situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and how this develops over the coming days and weeks. This page is your source of up-to-date information for the coronavirus.
To contact the HR Advice Line please call 01926 516 469 (lines open from 9am - 5pm)
(If your query is non-corona virus-related then please email email@example.com)
Some information on these pages is private. If you are part of the leadership team please sign in to view this information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions - Coronavirus
Symptoms of Coronavirus
The most common symptoms of coronavirus are:
high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
These symptoms do not necessarily mean someone will have the virus and the symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as a cold and flu.
Colleague Contact – HR Advice Line
If you have any questions, queries or concerns that are not covered in this FAQ please contact the HR Advice Line on 01926 516 469 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org where an advisor will be able to assist. The advice line is open from 9am until 5pm daily.
Further Reference Points
Guidance is being updated frequently regarding the Coronavirus; the following links can provide the most up to date information.
Colleague Frequently Asked Questions
1. Am I able to get tested for Coronavirus?
Yes, any colleague can get tested for the Coronavirus if they are displaying symptoms of the virus. Colleagues can request a test by using the following link and filling in their details. Colleagues can choose to request either a home delivery kit or to attend a regional testing site https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/
Please refer to the Coronavirus Symptoms Policy for more details on testing - https://colleaguesconnect.midcounties.coop/working-here/policies/coronavirus-symptoms-policy/
2. I am required to get the Coronavirus vaccine; will I be paid if this is arranged during working hours?
Colleagues may be invited by their doctors or local NHS for their COVID-19 Vaccination as per the Governments national programme and as a Society we want to support colleagues in receiving their vaccinations where they have the opportunity and desire to do so.
Wherever possible we will work with colleagues to enable them to attend appointments where it does not have a detrimental impact on our ability to serve our members and customers. As such we would like you to agree the time you attend a vaccine appointment with your line manager if you are unable to get an appointment outside of working time, and where possible, provide as much notice as possible. If you attend an appointment during working time will we not deduct pay from you provided you have prior agreement to attend from your manager.
If time away from work is required, we ask colleagues to be flexible in their working hours to support their peers who may be required to obtain the vaccination during work time to ensure the operational impact is limited.
3. I have tested positive for Coronavirus, what do I need to do?
If you have been tested positive for coronavirus you will need to self-isolate for 10 days and cannot return to work until you have completed the 10-day self-isolation period. You must contact your line manager to make them aware of your need to self-isolate and that you have tested positive. You will also need to contact the HR Advice Line on 01926 516 469 and inform them.
4. I have been notified by the Track and Trace scheme that I need to self-isolate as I have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus?
Upon receiving the notification from the NHS, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days in line with the guidance you have received. You will need to make contact with your line manager to report your absence in line with usual absence reporting procedures and submit evidence of your need to self-isolate.
5. I have started to display symptoms of the Coronavirus?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
You must notify your manager of this in line with normal absence reporting procedures and gain a self-isolation note to cover the period of your absence. An isolation note can be gained through the following link - https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
6. I am living with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus?
If you someone in your household or ‘bubble’ have developed symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
Anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, needs to stay at home for 10 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 10-day isolation period and arrange to be tested.
You must notify your manager of this in line with normal absence reporting procedures and gain a self-isolation note to cover the period of your absence. An isolation note can be gained through the following link - https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
7. I am at work and have started to display symptoms of the Coronavirus, what should I do?
If you become unwell in the workplace and displaying symptoms of coronavirus i.e. a cough and/or a temperature, you should notify your line manager immediately, try to remain at least 2 meters away from any other colleagues and/or customers, wear a face covering in all areas of the workplace and go home to self-isolate.
8. I am unsure if I need to self-isolate based on my symptoms?
The following link will assist in helping to understand if you need to self-isolate or not - https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
9. I am required to self-isolate; can I still work from home?
If a colleague tests positive for Covid-19 and has any symptoms they must not work even if able to do so from home and we will process as sickness. This is to ensure that colleagues are resting and focussed on getting fully fit and is in line with the Society’s commitment to the duty of care for all colleagues. If a colleague tests positive for Covid-19 and is asymptomatic and is able to work from home, then this is permitted on the condition they feel fully fit and able to do so.
10. What is the society doing to ensure the safety of its colleagues at this time?
The society is constantly reviewing the situation and working with various departments for example PSG, Health and Safety and the Property Team to ensure a plan is in place for various eventualities. Each group will have guidelines in place regarding appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
11. What will I be paid whilst I am away from work?
The following link will provide you with various scenarios and how each scenario should be logged/paid - click here.
12. How can I help prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the workplace?
Colleagues can take their own preventative measures to avoid the spread of the infection through basic hygiene practices for example –
• Utilise the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) which has been put in place to protect you and others around you
• Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
• Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
• Using hand sanitizers regularly where available
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
13. Will the school closures impact me and how will the Society support affected colleagues?
Most of our colleagues are classed as key/critical workers and therefore Colleagues can notify education providers of their key worker status and ask what provision is in place for key worker children. Where applicable, we will provide a template letter to Managers to provide to their colleagues that need them.
Our Colleagues may however find that their schools are not providing the wrap around care such as breakfast clubs/after school clubs and therefore we are asking all Line Managers to be flexible with our colleagues working hours to ensure they can balance their childcare commitments and work. Where flexibility cannot be offered the Manager can discuss other options with the colleague which can include taking annual leave to cover the hours that they are unable to work, taking unpaid leave or a temporary reduction in hours.
In absolute exceptional circumstances we may be able to consider furloughing our colleagues if they are unable to work due to childcare issues, but they would have to provide evidence that they have provided their school with the relevant information and that they have no other childcare options. If this is the case, please seek advice from the HR Advice Line.
Childcare nurseries are remaining open and therefore childcare provision should not be impacted.
14. My normal childcare support has now been asked to shield, what options are available to me?
If this is the case, we would encourage our colleagues to discuss options with their Manager, options could include taking annual leave, rearranging working hours or taking unpaid leave.
If the colleague lives near one our childcare nurseries they could consider that as an option and can also look on the government website to see if they would be entitled to any funding.
15. I have received a letter to say I am clinically extremely vulnerable, what should I do?
The government has reintroduced shielding for our clinically extremely vulnerable colleagues.
These colleagues who are deemed as clinically extremely vulnerable will have received a letter in November or December informing them of this and asking them to shield. The government has indicated that further letters may be sent out since national lockdown has been announced
If a colleague is notified that they are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) then they are required to stay at home and cannot attend work. They will be logged as sickness leave. We can furlough these colleagues if we have the evidence to show they are a CEV and they have verbally consented.
16. During the first lockdown I was Shielding, how am I affected this time?
The guidance is different from the first lockdown where our vulnerable colleagues were also asked to shield along with anyone else living in the household. We are following government advice and the current guidance does not say that either of these need to shield this time around. We will continually review the government guidance and will update colleagues if that changes.
If you feel like you should be classed as CEV but didn’t get a letter, you should speak to your GP as to whether you need to shield.
Further information can be found on the following page: -
The Society will continue to review the situation and how this evolves, and any such guidance contained in this document will be under constant review.
General Guidance and Contact Details
The Society is continually reviewing the situation in relation to the Coronavirus, however, with the situation ever evolving it is important that you also keep yourself up to date with any developments. Below are some useful links which can provide you the most up to date information regarding the Coronavirus.
- NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Gov.uk - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
- World Health Organisation - https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
If you are entering into self-isolation or have received a positive test result for the Coronavirus please inform your line manager and contact the HR Advice Line - 01926 516 469 to seek advice on any queries or questions regarding how this may impact you or how any time away from the society will be treated.
Colleagues can also take their own preventative measures to avoid the spread of the infection through basic hygiene practices for example:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often
- Using hand sanitizers regularly where available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
The Society will continue to review the situation and how this evolves, and within Colleague Connect you will find a copy of some Coronavirus FAQ’s, Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedures Policy and a Coronavirus Symptoms Policy to help assist you.
Media/Press enquiries: As a Colleague, should you be approached by any member of the press/media please direct them to Citypress - 0121 314 4197 - email@example.com
Vulnerable Colleagues and Returning to Work
Protecting Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and Vulnerable Colleagues
The safety of our Colleagues is a key priority and all Colleagues must follow the latest Government Guidance in respect to self-isolation.
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Colleagues
In line with the latest Government Guidance, those colleagues who are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) must work from home wherever possible and not attend their usual workplace.
Where working from home is not an option, you must discuss this with your line manager and HR
Details of who would be considered as CEV can be found at : Government Guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable
Clinically Vulnerable Colleagues
If you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You:
- should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others
- should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
Discuss the arrangements that are in place for your usual workplace and refer to the completed risk assessment.
Details of who would be considered as Clinically Vulnerable can be found at : Government Guidance for clinically vulnerable
All returning Colleagues
Upon your first day back your site manager will talk to you about the latest measures and practices that have been put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic. These will include changes to both the way you work and your working environment. It is important that you understand and implement the changes to keep you and your fellow colleagues safe.
Returning Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Colleagues
As a colleague that was identified as CEV, before you return to work an assessment will be required on your workplace. Your site manager will complete this assessment and will talk to you about any extra measures that need to put in place so that you can both agree with them. It is important that any agreed measures are maintained once you are on site.
Click here to download the process policy to follow.
Click here to download the Return to Work Assessment.
Job Retention Scheme
Job Retention Scheme - Furlough Leave
The Government recently announced a range of measures to support businesses and individuals affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. One of those measures is the introduction of the Job Retention Scheme. The scheme is open to all employers regardless of their size. It is intended to avoid the need for redundancies as a result of the financial impact Coronavirus is having on our economy.
As you know from our previous updates, like many businesses, the Society is significantly impacted by Coronavirus. We are seeing substantial downturns in our travel and childcare businesses, which are likely to continue for some time. Although these are offset by increased demand in areas such as food, pharmacy and funeral care, we need to act to protect the long-term future of our business. Our colleagues being as flexible as possible by supporting in other areas has been a fantastic help. However, we also need to use the Job Retention Scheme to protect jobs in the long-term.
The scheme enables employers to place colleagues on “furlough leave”, where there is no work for them to do. Whilst on furlough leave, the Government will meet up to 80% of the colleague’s wages per month (up to £2,500 each month). The great thing about the scheme is that once things improve, furlough leave will end, and the affected colleagues will return to their normal role.
Not all our colleagues will be affected by this scheme and we will be contacting you if you are. We are sure you will have lots of questions about how it may work and have prepared an FAQ to help answer some of those, which can be found here.
The answers in the FAQ are based on what we know so far. This is an entirely new scheme and we are waiting for the Government to publish full details. We will share that information and update the FAQ as soon as we know more
Redeployment is an opportunity the Society is offering our furloughed colleagues to work within other areas of the business, where we have suitable and available opportunities.
If you are a furloughed colleague looking to apply or register your interest in a redeployment opportunity. Please click here for further guidance on how to complete your registration and application.
To view our current internal vacancies or register your interest in a redeployment opportunity, please visit our internal careers website here.
Once you have submitted your application, you will be contacted by the Resourcing team who will be able to provide further information on our available positions.
NHS Test and Trace
This summary provides you with a clear description of what Test & Trace is and how it works.
What is the test and trace service?
From 28 May, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to talk through their recent interactions. This could include places that they’ve visited or people they’ve been in direct contact within the few days just before and after they first got symptoms.
These people identified will then be contacted by the service and should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms. The aim is to stop the virus being passed on from person to person and prevent a bigger outbreak.
How does it work?
The NHS Test and Trace service works by alerting people who may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus and asking them to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the risk of them passing it on to anyone else. They can also be tested quickly if they develop symptoms. If the test is positive, then they, in turn, will be contacted to ask about any interactions they may have had before they self-isolated.
This will help stop the spread of the virus and track new infections.
What counts as a ‘close contact’?
It is very important to understand the definition of ‘close contact’. Close contact includes:
- having face to face contact (at around 1 metre or less)
- spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
- travelling with someone in a car or small vehicle.
You will also be asked about where you work or places you may have visited where you came into contact with other people, such as GP surgeries or schools.
How will you be contacted?
The service will contact you by text message or email but will follow up by phone if they don’t get a response. You will then be directed to the NHS test and trace website. Here, you'll find more information on the system.
How will you know if a phone call from test and trace is legitimate?
Not knowing how to discern a dishonest contact tracing message is a common concern. The NHS test and trace team will only ever call you from 0300 013 5000 and send you text messages from ‘NHS’. They will never ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, those starting with 09 or 087).
Who do you notify if you are contacted by Test & Trace?
Please refer to the flowchart below.
What action do Site or Duty Manager’s take if visited or called by a Test & Trace Assessor?
Clearly describe the protection measures that are in place in your site; the social distancing protocol and the personal protection equipment. Where close contact cannot be avoided in the workplace, wearing personal protection equipment helps to mitigate the risk significantly and may negate the self-isolation requirement.
Do not agree to take any action until you have spoken to your District/Area Manager. Always seek their advice and report any Test & Trace contact. Write down the conversation and the questions that you were asked so that a clear record is retained. Take a record of the name and contact details of the person calling or contacting the store in case follow up or clarity is required.
Personal Mobile Devices Policy
To support colleagues during the Test & Trace implementation, we have temporarily amended the Society Personal Mobile Devices Policy. For frontline colleagues working in our trading branches, you will now be able to keep your mobile phone on your person in case you receive a Test & Trace text or call. Please note that this is the sole purpose for its use whilst you are working. For Childcare colleagues, regulatory reasons prevent us from extending this arrangement, but phones can be checked at two-hour intervals.
This temporary amendment will only remain in place for the length of the Test & Trace process.
Furlough Pay Explained
To find out more about your furlough pay & how it's calculated, please click here.
Changes to Policies & Procedures:
Coronavirus Symptoms Policy
Click here to view the 'Coronavirus Symptoms Policy'
As we come into the autumn/winter months colleagues will start to naturally display cold and flu like symptoms which have very similar symptoms to that of the coronavirus, for example a high temperature or a new, continuous cough. Therefore, it is important that any colleague who displays any symptoms of the coronavirus needs to self-isolate and arrange for a test to be completed immediately, so that we are able to limit the potential spread of the infection to our colleagues, members and customers as well as minimise any absence from the Society.
Key points covered
- Coronavirus symptoms
- Arranging a test
- Track and Trace
- Test results
Kronos - Coronavirus Guidance
Please raise a ServiceNow Incident in the first instance, for any Kronos query.
If a colleagues pay is incorrect, please review the colleagues timecard for the relevant adjustment weeks, and raise a historical correction for payroll to process.
Sign off must be completed by 10am every Monday (12pm if within Childcare group)
If managers are out of the business and unable to submit the timecards, please use the Delegation action for another manager to process for you, click here for the user guide. Please ensure you speak to the manager you are delegating too, to make them aware.
Colleagues returning off Furlough
For colleagues returning off Furlough, managers are required to end date the colleagues schedule of a forward Saturday date and set up a new schedule with a start and anchor date of a forward Sunday date.
Colleagues moving to Furlough/Flexi Furlough
Managers will continue to see their colleagues on Kronos whilst they are on furlough.
Managers are required to create a schedule pattern and apply the furlough paycode to the relevant days the colleague will be furloughed for.
Please ensure that colleagues' exceptions are managed accurately and promptly to ensure that colleagues are paid correctly.
For colleagues that are off sick due to self-isolation/Covid-19, you must add a comment within the comments field to the colleague’s timecard. Please refer to the user guide or video below for more information.
Refer to the HR comms re recording and payment of sickness related to Covid-19
Refer to Colleague Handbook for Sick entitlement, within the Policies and Procedures page.
Don't forget to add a comment when logging sickness on the colleagues timecard. Click here to access the userguide
Please be aware that the Workforce Management team are unable to give out colleague sickness information
Annual Leave Carryover
For colleagues that need to carry over annual leave into next year's entitlement, please follow the guide by clicking here.
Annual Leave carryover MUST be approved by Area/District Manager and will then be approved by the Head of HR Specialist Services, before it reaches the WFM team to process.
Logging Hours Through a Paycode
There have been several queries come through for sickness hours being removed from the amount field within the timecard when adding a comment. Please ensure that there is a schedule time within the schedule field of the timecard to ensure the hours populate- when you select Full Schedule day
If the schedule field is blank, within the timecard, please enter in the number of hours the colleague was off for, in the amount field, click save and add a comment if required.
Please ensure hours are populated in the amount field before submitting/signing off timecards, please follow the user guide by clicking here.
Please continue to look at Colleagues Connect for updates.
Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedures Policy
Click here to view the 'Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedures Policy'
This policy sets out the temporary changes to Society policy and procedures for colleagues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Key policies covered:
Managing Attendance Policy
Annual Leave Policy
Flexible Working Policy
Colleague & Customer Protection – Knowing what’s required
It is vitally important that all colleagues understand and adhere to the policies and procedures relating to personal protection and social distancing including, what personal protection equipment should be worn, what cleaning regimes should be in place, what social distancing protocols should be observed in both customer-facing and back-of-house areas and to help protect both colleagues & customers.
Guidance and instruction to help all colleagues understand what procedures and measures have been put in place by each group can be read below.
To help ensure the specific measures for each group are being implemented effectivity and consistently site managers have been asked to carry out an audit of compliance.
Food & Post Office
Facial Coverings FAQs
The latest Government Guidance has been updated on the use of face visors, see below. This will impact those colleagues who currently are using these as an exception to wearing a face covering.
Face visors or shields
A face visor or shield may be worn in addition to a face-covering but not instead of one. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth.
Click here to read the latest government guidance on face coverings.
Colleagues who are exempt from wearing a face-covering could continue to use the visor if it adds to their sense of security but at a local level this should be in agreement with their line Management to prevent any misunderstandings - see detail below. Non-exempt colleagues will be required to wear a face-covering and follow Society Guidelines.
If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering:
- you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this
- you do not need to show an exemption card
This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.
However, some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
Please see below a list of questions and answers around the Society decision for all customer-facing colleagues to wear a facial covering. If you have an additional question, please raise it with your Manager who will escalate it to ensure that you receive a prompt response.
Q - Why are retail colleagues being requested to wear face coverings when government guidance states they don’t have to?
A - Throughout COVID-19 your safety and protection has been and will continue to be the highest priority. The decision to ask all customer-facing colleagues to wear facial coverings is a further reflection of this priority. It has the full support of USDAW and is being followed by Co-ops across the UK. A clear message that on our sales floors everyone wears facial protection is an assurance for both colleagues and customers that safety is paramount at Your Co-op.
Q - If I am working behind a Perspex screen or Fortress (PO colleagues) do I still need to wear a face-covering?
A- Yes, you do, we want any colleague in a customer-facing situation to wear a facial covering. This provides one clear and consistent message for both our colleagues and customers.
Q - I have a medical condition and do not want to wear the face mask provided; can I wear a visor instead?
A - If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a facial covering please make your Manager aware so that they can look at alternative solutions, for example, the use of a visor. If there is a genuine medical reason as to why a colleague cannot wear any facial covering including a visor then a medical exemption card in a lanyard can be issued, but only where medical evidence is received to suggest this.
Q - I would prefer to wear a visor as I believe this will be more comfortable, would I be able to do this?
A - The Society’s preferred choice of facial covering is a mask, which will be provided for all colleagues. Visors will be provided for colleagues with a medical condition that prevents them wearing a face mask as a priority, but if you have a strong preference to wear a visor and your site has them available then that will be acceptable.
Q - Will the society provide me with a visor to wear if permitted or would I have to source my own?
A - A face visor or shield may be worn in addition to a face covering but not instead of one. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth.
The Society will have stock of visors available for use if required.
Q - Wearing the face masks provided steams up my glasses and means I cannot see properly; would I still be expected to wear a face mask?
A- Yes, you would, it may take a few moments for your lenses to adjust, but they should normalise. If you have a persistent problem, please raise it with your Manager. In addition, please click on the link here to a video that gives three tips on how to avoid your glasses steaming up; The Tuck Method, The Tissue Method and The Soap Method.
Q - If a customer comes into the store without wearing a face mask what does the society expect me to do?
A - Every site will be sent the clear point of sale informing customers of the Government instruction to wear a facial covering in a shop. If a customer is not wearing a facial covering then you should make them aware of the point of sale message, but you must not attempt to enforce compliance or engage in any form of confrontation. You are not to police customer adherence at all.
Q - I have a colleague who refuses to wear a face mask or a visor, how do I manage this?
A - If a colleague refuses to wear a facial covering and has no medical grounds to do so, they will be asked to either take holiday or go home on unpaid leave.
Q - Do I have to wear a face covering in the back areas of my site?
A - No, face coverings are optional in back areas or non-customer facing areas. However, if you are working closely with another colleague or colleagues, within the 2-metre social distancing rule for 15 minutes or more then wearing a facial covering is recommended.
Q - If I have a colleague who provides medical evidence of a condition that means they are exempt from wearing any facial covering, how do I get a lanyard and card for them to wear?
A - Any colleague requesting exemption from wearing any facial covering will need to provide their Manager with clear medical evidence. The Manager will then contact their District/Area Manager who will send them a lanyard and card for the colleague.
Other Helpful Information
Wellbeing Tips for Coronavirus
Wellbeing Wednesday - Coronavirus Toolkit
In these challenging times that we face, we felt it beneficial for our colleagues to have access to tools and tips to guide you through this unusual situation. Whether you are working in a site, self-isolating, working from home, furloughing or managing others - within the following toolkits you will find ideas and resources that have been designed to support and reassure you.
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 1
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 2
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 3
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 4
Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.
Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.
Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.
You can get up-to-date information and advice on the virus here:
Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straight away, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity.
You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly if you don’t have a tissue sneeze into your sleeve and stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Try to stay connected
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family or contact a helpline for emotional support.
Also, don’t forget the support colleagues can get from GroceryAid click here for more information.
It is a good idea to stick to your daily routine. You may also like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:
Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.
Talk to your children
Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need to be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.
We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible.
Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them. We have more advice on talking with your children about world news.
Try to anticipate distress
It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.
It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking.
Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.
Try not to make assumptions
Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The Coronavirus can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex.
Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media
There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is causing you huge stress, it’s important to find a balance.
It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.
How should people deal with being in self-isolation or in quarantine?
If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
For people that are in self-isolation or are in quarantine, this may seem like a daunting prospect. It will help to try and see it as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.
It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.
Create a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience, that might have its benefits.
Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing and mental health during such times.
Follow our top tips to look after yourself:
- If you find that the news is causing you stress, try to limit the amount of coverage that you are reading or listening to. It's best that you don't avoid news completely and that you keep informed of the developments but try to limit this to once a day.
- Be in touch with friends and family regularly to stay connected with them via social media, email or phone, it may change your normal routine but it's important to feel close to them when feeling worried or anxious.
- If you are unable to work, it's important that you create a new routine through exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies to keep busy and active.
- Eating well and keeping hydrated is important for physical and mental health, and good for keeping on top of low mood and blood sugar levels.
- Help the vulnerable. If you can get out, think of those that it's more difficult for. Why not help the elderly or sick with their shopping or weekly errands to ensure they are kept safe.
Your GroceryAid Wellbeing Tips:
How can GroceryAid Help? Click here for more information.
- Self-Help Guides
We have various Self-Help Guides available through our partner Rightsteps from day one of working in the grocery industry. 5 Ways to Wellbeing, Anxiety, Healthy Eating, Low Mood, Physical Activity are just some of the topics available to work through for help.
- Wellbeing Sessions
Ideal for those looking to make lasting changes in their lives you have access to a more structured self-guided support. There are 6-8 sessions lasting approx. 45 minutes each. Sessions include topics such as General Anxiety, Learning to Change, Low Mood, Social Anxiety.
- 24/7 Helpline - 08088 021 122
GroceryAid provides a confidential 24/7 Helpline, 365 days a year for anyone who is working or has worked within the grocery trade, regardless of the length of service. This free service provides emotional and practical support to help through a difficult time.
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We are following all advice provided by WHO, PHE and the NHS:
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