The NHS has been writing to all those patients who are at high risk of hospital admission should they contract coronavirus.
Thankfully, for the majority of you who remain fit, healthy and strong, you will not receive this letter or have to fully isolate yourself for a minimum of 12 weeks. However, I am sure you are aware that COVID-19 can infect and affect anyone, of any age and in any state of fitness or health, sometimes with serious consequences.
As a practice, we wanted to take this opportunity to advise you that we are still here, able and willing to support you and provide services for your on-going or developing medical needs.
We are trying to become as IT savvy as many of you already are, mainly offering telephone and video consultations. We are also able to still see you face-to-face but only if this is essential. Currently, we will need to speak to or video consult with you first as the best way to keep you safe and maintain your health.
We would also like to provide you with some additional information by answering some questions from young people on their healthcare and about COVID-19. We hope that our answers may help you cope with the restrictions that lockdown or self-isolation may have on your overall wellbeing.
Q1) Is it OK to be worried about what’s happening?
These are truly extraordinary times where information and issues are changing extremely rapidly. It is not surprising that each day can feel totally different to the next and this is unsettling. What’s happening in the world right now can feel daunting – it’s very normal to feel anxious and unsure about things.
Maybe your exams have been cancelled, or your first year at university has come to a sudden halt, or school has been closed for the foreseeable future. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, unproductive, anxious or hopeless, your feelings are justified – you are not alone in feeling this way.
Q2) Can I call to speak to a doctor if I am worried about my health?
If you are feeling very overwhelmed and are struggling to function normally, there is help available. Please contact us – we are still open for business. Calls may take a little longer to answer but we will endeavour to manage and direct your call to the most appropriate person to help with your query/need.
Q3) Will any contact I make with the practice be confidential?
As a registered patient of ours, you are entitled to receive medical support, care and assistance from our staff. You do not need permission from your parents or guardian to make an appointment or chat to one of our doctors or nurses. Please be reassured that contact and discussions with any of our staff is treated with confidence, as will the opportunity to speak or consult with one of our clinical staff.
Q4) Will you have a record of my mobile or e-mail address if you need to contact me?
With the increased role of technology in all that we do now, it is very important that we have a current mobile and email address for you, so that, with your permission, we can text or contact you directly. We may have an old contact or a parent’s mobile number attached to your records so to update your details would help us ensure that we can keep in contact with you appropriately and directly when you need advice or support.
Please email the practice (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your current contact details and giving your consent for us to be able to contact you by this means if you are happy for us to do so. Our staff will then update your records.
Q5) I am a young carer, should I let you know about this?
Absolutely! Whether you have been a carer for others in your family for a while, or just recently owing to COVID-19, please contact the surgery so we can make a note of this. If you are struggling or having difficulties with your caring responsibilities, or if you have any questions, we would be happy to try and help.
Q6) How can I occupy myself to avoid boredom and feeling even worse about things?
Despite the loss of normal routine and activities, try to develop and implement a new routine that provides a balance of several different activities and interactions with others. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which can make you feel worse.
Simple things you can do to stay mentally and physically active during this time include:
Wake up relatively early – (annoying but it does help). Lying in bed until early afternoon will drain your energy levels and crush productivity. Set a nice alarm to wake up to and allow yourself more time to get ready and start the day properly.
Stay connected to your friends and family via Skype, email, video-calling and telephone/texting. Don’t rely just on texting though, as an audio-visual catch up is much more rewarding.
Social media can be an excellent way to keep in touch with your friends and family. However, you should be mindful of your use of social media. Use it to promote positive interactions, and put your device away if it starts to negatively affect your mood. Many smartphones allow you to set time limits for certain apps such as Facebook or Instagram.
It is important to maintain, where possible, some sort of daily routine. You should vary what you put into your routine to keep things different and interesting but try and include key elements consistently.
Make a to-do list (or schedule / rota) with reasonable and specific things included. Finalise your schedule/rota the night before so you are ready and prepared for the day ahead. Include spending time doing things you enjoy as well as things you need to do.
- Time to eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Time to network chat and socialise, social media/gaming
- Time to do work, study, homework, coursework, learn, research
- Time for exercise
- Time for relaxing, personal downtime
- Time to spend with family
- Time to spend doing something fun/different/activity-based
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs
- If needing to socially isolate, spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air, arranging space to sit with a nice view if possible and get some natural sunlight. Get out into the garden or sit on your doorstep if you can, keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from others
- If you don’t need to isolate, you should try and get out of the house to do your daily exercise (walk, jog, run or a bike ride) for an hour, keeping your social distance to at least two metres when outside
- Look to introduce fun activities for you and the family
- Themed meals
- Quizzes and competitions
- Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for feeling emotionally healthy the next day. We all feel better after a good night’s sleep.
Q7) What is out there to help me cope with this pandemic?
Here are some websites, apps and resources focused on helping young people navigate through these uncertain times as well as supporting your emotional and physical wellbeing.