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Supporting Clients and Family Caregiving Networks During COVID-19

COVID-19 has increased the challenges of caregiving. Family caregivers take many forms and may include family members or other informal care providers of long-term services, supports, as well as health care and social services. Caregivers’ clients were among the first to stay home and will likely be among the last to return to prior roles. Below are resources for supporting clients and their caregivers.

Topic Areas

Care Planning Considerations: In general, caregivers will need to adjust their care plans as a result of COVID-19. See CDC’s guidance on how to develop your emergency preparedness care plan. The guidance equips family caregivers with information on how to establish medical directives, how to start a conversation about care planning, and how to articulate individual needs as a caregiver. ASPR has also produced guidance on talking with patients about advanced directives during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly important given that caregivers cannot always be at a client’s bedside as an advocate due to in-person services occurring less frequently.

Respite for Caregivers: Respite care and other supports for family caregivers is crucial. Routine tasks performed before COVID-19 have been complicated during the pandemic and will likely stay that for the foreseeable future. The National Family Caregiver Support Program funds a variety of supports that help family and informal caregivers care for older adults in their homes for as long as possible. Lifespan Respite Programs also provide gap-filling respite services for caregivers. HHS agencies and others are continuing to identify best practices as it relates to respite care and will update this resource with guidance when it is made available.

Managing Client and Caregiver Distress: Clients and caregivers experiencing emotional distress can call the National Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Individuals can also text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. Other client assistance hotlines exist for individuals that may be victims of domestic violence which is unfortunately more common during times of uncertainty like with COVID-19. A number of additional HHS resources exist including the ACF’s, Intersection of Domestic Violence and Disaster Curricula which trains domestic violence program staff to enhance their services by understanding the relationship between emergencies and domestic violence.

Similarly, for counselors associated with a CBO, supports exist in the form of online Psychological First Aid trainings to help them feel more secure in the ability to manage not only their clients, but themselves during an emergency situation. Counselors and other similar types of professionals will continue to need emotional support if they are to be able to continue providing their services.