Staying safe and well

A reminder to take care of yourself from the Scottish Government

You are likely to be under increased pressure over this period and you will need appropriate support. It is going to be crucial that we are all able to talk openly and honestly about our mental health and wellbeing, and that we have access to the right help and support when we need it. Looking after our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

You need care too

Here are some tips for staying safe and well:

Information and social media

Get timely, accurate and factual information about COVID-19 from a reliable source no more than a couple of times a day. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, consider how you feel when you have constant exposure to media coverage and graphic news stories. Although it is important to stay informed, consider taking a break if you feel things are getting on top of you.

Looking after your basic needs

  • Take care of your basic needs at work.
  • Eat and drink regularly and healthily.
  • Always take regular breaks during shifts.
  • Allow time for sleep, rest and respite between shifts. 
  • Try and stay as connected to your friends and family as much as possible via technology. 
  • Where possible, maintain your normal daily routine and a healthy diet, and get fresh air when you can.
  • Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies that involve alcohol, tobacco or an unhealthy diet. 
  • Think about creating a consistent routine to ensure you get the amount of sleep you need, but also about ensuring your bedroom is quiet, dark and a relaxing environment to sleep in.

Looking after each other

Speak to colleagues, line managers and professional leaders, building this into your team’s daily huddles and handovers. They may be feeling the same way. It’s good to talk. Peer and social support are often the best buffers against stress and adversity. 

  • Look out for each other and share small successes about what’s gone well. 
  • Be kind to each other. This can have a profound impact on staff wellbeing. 
  • Use the Going Home Checklist, where relevant, to leave work in work. 
  • It’s good to talk, but not all of you will be ‘talkers’. That’s OK too but make sure you give yourself space to process the events of the day and deal with your feelings.

Additional information

It is perfectly normal to feel worried during exceptional times such as these. However, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a colleague. A helpline such as NHS 24 (111) or Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) may also help.

You may find the following websites of assistance:

[And, of course, there is our very own Eastspace! ]

Coronavirus – Mental Welfare Commission advice for people using services and their family/carers

The Mental Welfare Commission has published new advice on the coronavirus situation for people who use mental health, learning disability and dementia services and for their family or carers.

The advice offers guidance and contact information aimed at helping people address some of the challenges that the current restrictions on movement and work patterns can bring for people using services.

It recognises that lack of staff and social distancing has meant much of the routine care and treatment in the community has been reduced or stopped. 

It advises that there should still be an option for emergency contact with community mental health services even when appointments have been cancelled.

It gives information on current practice with visiting people in hospital or care homes, and discusses the new emergency legislation that is in place but has not yet come into use.

The advice gives a number of contacts for support and information, including contact information for the Commission’s own advice line.

Anyone who wishes to give feedback to the Commission on this advice, or make suggestions for any updates, can contact the Commission at:

A copy of the Advice Note can be found here

Take one minute each day and help fight the outbreak

Are you using the Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app yet?

Designed by doctors and scientists at King’s College London (KCL) and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals, it asks people across the UK to answer two simple questions every day:

  • Are you feeling physically normal?
  • Have you been tested for corona virus?

This helps to establish numbers and show how the virus is spreading. You can find more detailed information through the app on prevalence across the UK and your own local area.

You can download the app to your phone or tablet free from Apple and Android app stores. It’s a small but very useful thing you can do every day to help understand and eventually control COVID-19.

Covid-19 Symptom Tracker website

Support and help available in East Lothian during Coronavirus Covid 19 outbreak

From ELHSCP Justice social work service

Our Justice Social Work Team has put together this list to help people access the support they need during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Services can’t offer face-to-face contact at the moment,  so they have found other ways of offering support and advice.

You will find a list of organisations that can help, together with details of the way they can provide support during the outbreak.

Justice support pages

Social Security update

Changes to eligibility

The Scottish Government has temporarily changed eligibility for a number of our benefits. This is to help people who are impacted by coronavirus and can’t get an application in on time – due to illness or caring responsibilities – to still get the support that they need.

We are working to update our online forms at the moment to reflect these changes, so if a client gets a warning to say that their application is late, they should make sure that they continue and submit so that we can process this.

Clients who make a late application after 7 April may still be treated as eligible even when the delay means they are out with our normal eligibility ages. This is provided they have explained that the reason for their application being late is due to Covid-19.
We will consider their application as if it was submitted on the final date that they would have actually been eligible. That means, if someone applies for Pregnancy and Baby Payment after their baby turns six months old, we will check their application against their circumstances on the day before their baby turned six months – including whether or not they were getting a qualifying benefit on that day.

Payments include:

  • Best Start grant
  • Pregnancy and baby payments
  • Early learning payments
  • Funeral support payment
  • Young carer grant

Redetermination and appeals timescales have been extended.

Read more

Communication for people with sensory loss during the COVID-19 pandemic: advice for health and social care staff in Scotland

People with sensory loss face extra barriers to accessing healthcare which can put them at risk of missing out on the care they need, and avoidable death. In addition, due to the increased risk of adverse outcomes from respiratory conditions for many disabled people, they may be more likely to need to access healthcare services. At this time, it is vital that health and social care workers can still make the reasonable adjustments required by law that these patients need – this document will help you identify the most important things you need to do to communicate effectively with your patient to support their health needs.   

Communicating effectively can help your patient to:  

  • Understand advice about how to deal with the symptoms of COVID-19 and keep themselves, and others safe; 
  • Comply with treatment such as medicine dosage; 
  • Keep to appointments and engage with healthcare professionals; 
  • Give you the information you need about their symptoms; 
  • Recall the information you have given them; 
  • Make their own decisions and give valid consent to treatment; 

Remember communication is both about giving and receiving information.  

  • Where possible, always talk directly with the person; 
  • Always ask for the individual’s preferred language and communication method; 
  • Remember that noisy and busy environments can make communication difficult for many disabled people;  
  • People may have more than one disability;  
  • Do not assume just because someone has a mobile number that they can receive important communications via text; 
  • National and local charities, and self-advocacy groups, or companies like and, can provide communication support and solutions. It may also be appropriate to ask the individual which organisation they recommend consulting. A wide range of third sector groups can also offer support, including: 

Patients who are blind or partially sighted  

  • Let the individual know you are there or if you are leaving the room; 
  • Make sure you have large print, electronic, audio version and Braille versions of information available;  
  • If the person is in a hospital bed, have you told them when and where you have placed food or drink near them (e.g. 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock etc) so they do not go hungry or thirsty? Have you told them about the location of important items such as the emergency call button and checked that they have understood and can reach them?  
  • More communication tips can be found here:   

Patients who are Deaf or who have hearing loss

Older people are at higher risk of becoming severely ill due to coronavirus. More than 40% age 40, 60% age 60, 70% of people over the age of 70 and 90% over 75 have hearing loss. It is important to:

  • Establish the communication needs of the patient. The pillars of deafness and language preference describe Deaf, Deafblind, Deafened and Hard of Hearing as people with different levels of deafness.
  • Many people with hearing loss rely on visual cues such as lipreading and facial expressions. Communication can become more difficult or impossible on the telephone or when you are wearing a mask or using the wrong language, be that a sign language or verbal language. When wearing a mask, speak clearly, check understanding by asking them to repeat, speak to a friend or relative if absolutely necessary. Alternatively, use paper and pens, laptops or tablets, or visuals and symbols to communicate.  
  • Telephone based services are inaccessible. Do you provide email, SMS text, Text Relay, textphones or British Sign Language (BSL) video relay or remote interpreting services? Deaf and deafblind BSL users in Scotland can use the contactSCOTLAND – BSL service to contact anyone, anytime. 
  • For patients in a hospital bed, have you checked if they have hearing aids and that they are working? If they do not have hearing aids but need them, check with audiology locally to see if a personal listener can be supplied. 
  • Comply with the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015, NHS and medical guidance. 
  • Are your hearing loop systems working? Are they regularly tested? Do you have a portable facility? 
  • More communication tips can be found here:  

Patients who are deafblind  

Other useful links:

Scotland’s Inclusive Communication Hub gives additional useful resources. Search ‘Top Tips’ for information on other communication support needs, such as learning disability or autism:

Clinical guidance has been published for front line staff to support the management of patients with a learning disability, autism or both during the coronavirus pandemic:

Advice on Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Advice from the Scottish Accessible Information Forum: 

During the current COVID-19 pandemic Deafblind Scotland is sending out regular information to keep deafblind people updated on the developments and support that is available to them during this crisis and is extend this supporting to people with a visual impairment as well. The charity is providing the following services which are open for referrals from partner agencies/services:

  • Regular briefings for deafblind blind and visually impaired people, in alternative formats (large print, extra large print, braille, moon, audio cd). These will provide up to date information on the crisis, benefits information and any other developments.
  • 1:1 telephone support to access advice on welfare and benefits including hardship grants, food funds, access to shopping etc.

Contact for more information.

The Scottish Government has launched a new helpline for peoplewho are at high risk from coronavirus and do not have a support network at home, including disabled people. The phone number is 0800 111 4000. This communication guidance has been produced by the following organisations. We are extremely grateful for all that health and social care staff are doing in these unprecedented times. We hope that this information is valuable for staff in supporting their patients.

Funding opportunities update

From the SCVO – 20 April 2020

Wellbeing Fund

This fund is currently closed.

The Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund will support organisations across the third sector that are providing important services for people as a result of coronavirus.  

£10m has already been allocated for immediate priorities and £7 million has been committed to provide around 2,000 charities with small grants through Corra, Inspiring Scotland, STV Appeal, SCVO and Scotland’s Third Sector Interfaces

The remaining £33 million is now open to bids from Third Sector Organisations.

Funds have supported the purchase and delivery of food, activities to support people’s mental health and wellbeing, co-ordination of local activity and staff and volunteer expenses. It is anticipated that the fund will continue to support those things and much more.

The Wellbeing Fund was open for expressions of interest from all third sector organisations until midnight on Sunday 19 April 2020.  It is currently closed briefly to enable applications to be assessed quickly, funds distributed to organisations and a further review of need. 

It is anticipated that the Wellbeing Fund will open again on May 7th 2020.

Third Sector Resilience Fund

This fund is now open!

The Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) is a £20m emergency fund for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations working in Scotland. The fund supports organisations that already deliver services and products but find themselves in financial difficulties directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The primary intention of the fund is to help third sector organisations to stabilise and manage cash flows over this difficult period.

The Fund is delivered by Firstport, Social Investment Scotland and the Corra Foundation and provides grants up to £100,000. In addition there is up to a further £5m available in fully flexible, 0% interest loans starting at £50,000. The fund will be complemented by specialist business advice from Just Enterprise to help grant recipients maximise the impact of the financial support.

As of 17th April 2020, 447 organisations have been supported through the TSRF, along with an estimated 6,000 jobs saved as a result. A list of organisations that have been awarded funding up to 15 April 2020 is available on Firstport’s website.

To find out if your organisation could be successful in gaining support from this fund please use the eligibility checker. This will filter you through to the correct route for your organisation to apply. 

To be eligible, interested organisations must be:

  • a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation based in Scotland and/or primarily delivering services/activities in Scottish communities
  • already delivering those products or services prior to March 2020
  • and needing funding to stabilise cashflows directly as a result of the impact of COVID-19, as opposed to pre-existing financial difficulties.

The fund aims to help as many organisations as possible, however, priority is given to those most at risk and that need immediate help. Please also note that TSRF is not a compensation scheme, but an alternative fund for organisations for whom other UK/Scottish Government Emergency Schemes are not suitable. We strongly encourage you to read the fund’s guidance notes and FAQs prior to starting an application.

If your organisation is looking for support for a new project or significantly evolved service delivery (e.g. moving from physical to digital delivery) as a result of COVID-19, please do not apply to TSRF. The Wellbeing Fund is more suitable for this type of activity and the public ‘bid-in’ route to the fund will be opening soon.

In order to apply to TSRF, organisations must complete a short eligibility checker to assess their suitability for the fund. Based on the answers provided, interested applicants will be directed to the correct application form depending on their needs or signposted to other sources of relevant funding/support.

Eligibility Checker

National Emergencies Trust

The National Emergencies Trust has set up a Coronavirus Appeal to raise funds for local charities and grassroots organisations that can provide vital support to people in the quickest way possible. Funds are being sought from members of the public, corporate donors, charitable trusts, community fundraising, and existing and new government funding programmes. 

Funds for Scottish organisations will be distributed by Foundation Scotland through the ‘Community Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund’ (RRR).

Most immediately, the Response element will provide emergency funding for local charities and grassroots organisation supporting people most in need.

In the medium and longer term, Recovery and Resilience will fund a wider group of local charities and community organisations whose operations and finances have been affected so they can recover, re-establish or re-design their activities once the outbreak eases in response to community needs at that point.

As of 20th April 2020, 336 groups across Scotland have been supported through the RRR fund, with £1.3 million distributed to community groups and organisations supporting the most vulnerable people in Scotland. A list of organisations that have been awarded funding is available on Foundation Scotland’s website.

Find out more & apply on Foundation Scotland’s website.

Supporting Communities Fund

The £40m Supporting Communities Fund is providing funding to Community Anchor Organisations, for example Housing Associations and Development Trusts, to help support local responses to the pandemic.  Community Anchor Organisations are well placed to work collaboratively with local authorities, third sector organisations and communities of interest. An initial wave of £10 million is currently being deployed through Community Anchor Organisations and a list of these will be made available on this webpage shortly.

Additional Funding

In addition to these four specific funds, the Scottish Government has provided an additional £50 million to local authorities to support their response, £50 million will help meet the anticipated increase in applications for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Scottish social security benefits and £45 million has been made available for the Scottish Welfare Fund to assist local authorities meet increased demands for Crisis and Community Care grants.  There is also a £25 million being kept in reserve to address emerging priorities.

National Assistance Helpline

The Scottish Government has recently established a National Assistance Helpline for people who are:

  • disabled 
  • receiving mental health support 
  • have dementia 
  • over 70 years old 
  • pregnant 
  • receiving the flu vaccine for health reasons

The helpline is dedicated to helping those who cannot leave their home and who cannot get help online.

The number is 0800 111 400 and the line is open Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.