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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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

Social Distancing and Isolation Guidance for Clients and Caregivers

Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation: As states relax social and physical restrictions, those at higher-risk from COVID-19 including older adults, people with disabilities, and people with multiple chronic conditions, are being instructed to stay in place, which may increase the chance of isolation and loneliness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak tip sheet outlines the feelings and thoughts individuals may experience during and after the pandemic and how they might support themselves while social distancing and isolating. ASPE also has resources on strategies for CBOs to utilize in order to help clients maintain relationships while social distancing and when staying home. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has a compilation of helpful resources for older adults and people with disabilities, including information on how to stay connected while social distancing or isolating as well as tips on how to engage with people virtually. Lastly, this ASPR resource, Managing the Effects of Social Distancing in Older Adults during COVID-19, provides guidance and resources on how to address the behavioral health implications of social distancing and isolation on older adults due to current social distancing guidance.

Bereavement Supports During COVID-19: Losing a loved one can be especially painful during the pandemic as many in-person grievance gatherings are not possible. The American Red Cross developed a virtual Family Assistance Center website for individuals in need of behavioral supports or community resources. A living resource, the site will evolve as states, localities, and other community-based partners participate and provide additional resources.

Telehealth Best Practices and Resources for Clients, Families and Caregivers

Familiarize Clients with Telehealth: Clients and their caregiver may be unfamiliar with telehealth and have reservations about using it. ASPR posted a telehealth tips sheet that outlines what telehealth is, who is using it, ongoing challenges, and trends to watch after COVID-19. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) also has a dedicated telehealth site, which provides information on telehealth for both clients as well as provider organizations, and provides tips on how it can be integrated into an organization’s workflow as well as ways for clients to more easily find telehealth options.

Additional Caregiver Resources and Considerations

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.

  • This page last reviewed: July 08, 2020