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  • Writer's pictureDr Jonathan Tey

COVID19: Staying CONNECTED whilst the world is self-isolating...

Social Distancing.



Lock down.

As someone who thrives on relationships, I can't think of a more important time than now to be staying connected. After all, humans were created to be in relationship. We were never meant to be alone, yet now more than ever we are being told to maintain a 1.5 metre distance to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

A friend once told me; humans require at least 5 meaningful or purposeful physical touches per day to prevent depression. I'm not sure whether this was backed by any high powered evidence, but as a people loving, handshaking, hi-five-ing, pat on the shoulder type person... I'll take that as fact! This is why now, in a world where loneliness and suicide to this date has claimed more lives than the coronavirus, we must stay connected!

In the past week, we have seen the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) item numbers broadened to accommodate patients (and even doctors) who are having to self-isolate and receive medical care for a variety of reasons. As this is a constantly changing criteria, be sure to check with your local GP as to whether you may qualify for these compulsory bulk billed services (yes, the government has placed restrictions that these item numbers must be bulk billed by doctors). This week, many medical centres are moving towards phone and video consultations to minimise the risk of community transmission of COVID-19, especially as some of the most medically vulnerable are the frequent attenders to medical clinics.

Here are my top tips for staying connected during this period of uncertainty:

1) Utilise Technology

Facebook messenger, Facebook Video, Skype, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts or even just plain old telephone.

We have never had more options available to us through the internet. For those with elderly family/friends (whom we know are the most vulnerable to the complications of COVID-19), start planning now by helping set them up with an electronic communication means to stay connected. Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the past day has already announced restrictions to visitors for aged care facilities and these are only going to get tighter.

2) Don't forget our kids

This can be a difficult time for our young ones who are constantly processing a myriad of information about "the virus" or "coronavirus". My own kids constantly remind me of how often I minimise how much they are absorbing and learning with their little listening ears at the dining table.

If you have access to facebook, I love how this video shows us of a simple, visual explanation (and potential home activity) you can do to teach children about the importance of hand washing:

Take the opportunity each day to explain to our children the importance of things like hand hygiene, coughing into elbow creases and social distancing. Teach them how to express their emotions of fear, anxiety or loneliness in a safe home environment so that they can be better prepared when faced with these challenges again in adulthood.

3) Reach Out to someone who might be struggling

It is often times like these that I am even more encouraged by the love and care people demonstrate in our local communities. 1000x more encouraged when they are children! Make it a priority to check on your elderly neighbour, or that single parent, or your friend who suffers from anxiety. When everyone is searching the supermarket shelves for non-pharmacological ways of boosting your immune system, remember; a small act of kindness can go a long way towards improving someones overall health and immunity!

4) Finally, take time to "Turn Off"

Look after yourself. Turn off the TV, the facebook notifications, emails, txt messages or whatever it may be. I'm not sure about you, but my facebook feed is currently flooded with COVID19 updates and there is a new one every few minutes. If the past few weeks have been anything to go by, it is impossible to stay up to date with the latest, which is why we have to take a break. Don't be crippled by fear. I'm not saying don't be cautious or ignore the realities of COVID-19, but don't be consumed by it. Find your happy place and go there often!

Stay well everyone! I'd love to hear if you have a top tip to contribute.

To my fellow medical colleagues out there, we got this! :D

Dr Jon Tey


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