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    Staff Support

    A Practical Guide for staff working in HSE Contact Tracing Centres (CTCs)


    A Model of Staff Support

    HeHealthcare Worker Helpline: 1850 420 420

    25 th

    March 2020


  • COVID-19 CTCs Staff Support Booklet

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    Reader Information

    Acknowledgments: With thanks to all the staff who contributed to the development of this staff

    support booklet and to those who provided resources to support the development of the document.

    Developed by: The HSE Quality Improvement Team

    Title: COVID-19 CTC Staff Support Booklet

    Document Number:

    National QI Team

    Version Number: V1.1

    Approved Date:


    Published Date:


    Subject: This document provides guidance, support and resources for people working in Covid-19 Contact Tracing Centres on how to self-care and how to care for colleagues.

    Associated document

    Overall CMP programme plan CMP Architecture and data information OOCIO CMP Education and Resources Governance

    Revision Date: This document will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis

    Access: Maintained on the CMP Overall Programme Management shared file

    Version control


    Version Created By Reviewed By Final Document approved by

    15.03.2020 V1.0 National QI Team CMP Management Oversight Group

    CMP Management Oversight Group

    03/07/2020 V1.1 National QI Team CMP Management Oversight Group

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    Table of contents



    3 Introduction - How your mental health might be affected (pg. 3) - Psychological First Aid (pg. 4)

    5 The “ASSIST ME” model of staff support

    8 Practical Guidance on Self-Care in your work as a Contact Tracer

    11 The benefits of talking to a manager or colleague

    11 Remote Working

    11 Available Resources

    12 Seeking Medical Assistance

    13 Appendix 1: “Minding your mental health” – list of useful contacts

    1. Healthcare worker COVID-19 helpline (pg. 13)

    2. Link to the HSE Policy for Preventing and Managing Critical Incident Stress 2012 available (pg. 13)

    3. Link to the HSE Coronavirus Website (pg. 13)

    4. List of staff resources available through the HSE (pg. 13)

    5. Tips for healthcare workers on how to manage our emotional response to unprecedented circumstances (video link) (pg. 13)

    6. Employee Assistance Program (pg. 13)

    7. Health & Safety Helpdesk Team (pg. 14)

    8. Workplace Health & Wellbeing Unit (pg. 14)

    9. Occupational Health Contacts (pg. 14)

    10. WorkWell Covid-19 Signposting Poster for Healthcare Workers (pg. 18)

    11. The National Bereavement Support Line

    12. Silvercloud Programmes on managing stress, resilience and sleep and managing your mental health during Covid-19

    20 Appendix 2: Bibliography

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    This document has been developed to provide practical guidance for the HSE Contact Tracing Team

    on how to mind themselves and how to provide the best support to colleagues while working in the

    Covid- 19 Contact Tracing Service. Staff will be contacting persons who have been confirmed as

    positive with Covid-19 or who have been identified as a contact of a person who has been

    confirmed positive with Covid-19. These calls must be conducted in a professional, courteous,

    empathic and effective manner. Contact Tracing Staff will be involved in dealing with persons who

    are experiencing great stress and difficulty at this time.

    Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. The spread of

    coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others.

    Try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the

    virus. Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in

    time, it will pass.

    This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental

    health during times like this.

    How your mental health might be affected Although everyone is affected in some way by the current situation with Covid-19, there are a wide

    range of reactions and feelings each person can have. Some people may have mild reactions,

    whereas others may have more severe reactions. This event is unusual in healthcare as you are also

    personally affected by the pandemic for yourself and your own family and life is not normal as we

    have previously known it to be. You may notice some of the following:

    • increased anxiety, fearful, feeling numb

     feeling overwhelmed, confused

    • feeling stressed

    • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others

    • becoming irritable more easily

    • feeling insecure or unsettled

    • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus

    • having trouble sleeping

    • feeling helpless or a lack of control

    • having irrational thoughts

     a change in eating habits

    How someone reacts depends on many factors, including:

    • the nature and severity of the event(s) they experience;

    • their experience with previous distressing events;

    • the support they have in their life from others;

    • their physical health;

    • their personal and family history of mental health problems;

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    • their cultural background and traditions;

    • their age

    Staff have identified the following needs in crisis situations:

    • they need to feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful;

    • they need to have access to social, physical and emotional support and

    • they need to feel able to help themselves, as individuals and communities.

    Psychological First Aid: Psychological first aid (PFA) describes a humane, supportive response to a fellow human being who is suffering and who may need support. PFA involves the following themes:

     providing practical care and support, which does not intrude;

     assessing needs and concerns;

     helping people to address basic needs (for example, food and water, information);

     listening to people, but not pressuring them to talk;

     comforting people and helping them to feel calm;

     helping people connect to information, services and social supports;

     protecting people from further harm. PFA involves: Look – Listen and Link approach Look

     Check for safety.

     Check for people with obvious urgent basic needs.

     Check for people with serious distress reactions. Listen

     Approach people who may need support.

     Ask about people’s needs and concerns.

     Listen to people, and help them to feel calm.

    Listening properly to people you are helping is essential to understand their situation and needs, to help them to feel calm, and to be able to offer appropriate help. Learn to listen with your: Eyes - giving the person your undivided attention Ears - truly hearing their concerns Heart - with caring and showing respect Link

     Help people address basic needs and access services.

     Help people cope with problems.

     Give information.

     Connect people with loved ones and social support.

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    The “ASSIST ME” Model of Staff Support. The importance of support for staff from managers, supervisors, colleagues and peers in this emerging situation should not be underestimated. Being available for colleagues and understanding the challenges they are facing is crucial. Staff require a safe and confidential space in which to talk openly about their experiences and feelings if they wish to do so. This can be very therapeutic. The “ASSIST ME” model of staff support has been developed to assist managers and staff during this process. This has been adapted from the Medical Protection Society’s A.S.S.I.S.T model of communicating with service users following adverse events in healthcare. This communication tool can be used to assist staff who are upset, anxious or in a distressed state. Table 1: The “ASSIST ME” model of staff support

    Action Example

    A Acknowledge with empathy what has happened and the impact on the member of staff. Assess the impact of the event on the

    member of staff and on their ability to

    continue normal duties.

    “I came to see you as soon as I heard that you had a difficult call. This must have been very distressing for you”, “I know you are dealing with some very distressing calls, I want to support you”. “This must be very difficult for you”. “I believe you had a difficult day today and that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed” “How are you doing?” “How are you coping? “How are you feeling?” “Are yo


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