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Psychologists release advice on meeting the needs of children in shielding families

28 July 2020

The psychological impact on those advised to shield during lockdown could last long after the restrictions lift, so the BPS, has produced guidance to support professionals working with children in shielding families to make sure the families get the support they need.  

Even before the pandemic, children with a serious health condition, and children in shielding families were more likely to experience greater stress and mental health difficulties. The pandemic will have only increased this pressure.

Helen Griffiths, acting chair for the Faculty for Children, Young People and their Families, DCP, who worked on the guidance, said:

“Throughout the pandemic, children who have been shielding, or who are in shielding families, will have been more restricted in all aspects of their lives with demands placed on the areas which are crucial to child development – social, emotional, psychological, practical and educational.

For many of these families lockdown offered security and a parity with their peers with everyone ‘in the same storm’.

As this changes and lockdown lifts, psychologists and other professionals need to be sensitive to these issues and support children and their families as we enter the new phase of life.”

Professionals supporting children in shielding families are advised to:

  • Take time to listen to the experiences of families and don’t assume that moving out of lockdown is necessarily positive.
  • Ask questions about how shielding has impacted the child. What contact have they had with friends? Have they undertaken school work and spoken to their teachers? Has there been any changes in their mood, appetite, and sleep patterns?
  • Use technology to include the child in lessons if they have not yet returned to school, including informal contact with friends.
  • Ensure children are involved in the decision-making processes as much as possible.
  • Make sure the child has regular contact with those professionals involved in their care, ideally over video.
  • Ask parents about the impact on them and make sure they have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions. 
  • Those working with adults who need to shield should consider the impact of this on  children in the family

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