Burnout. Exhaustion. Anxiety. Stress. Trauma.
These are just some of the words being used in the healthcare industry by professionals who have worked during the pandemic. Many are making comparisons to being “on the frontline” or “in the trenches”.
For those who have worked in care homes during this past year, it may well have seemed like this situation was never going to improve or end. Some care givers actually moved into their workplace to avoid taking Covid home to their family or bringing it in to their patients.
It has been a heavy personal and professional strain – many were not allowed to take holidays and ended up working on their days off. Part-time hours became full-time. In some cases, shifts saw loss after loss of beloved patients.
On top of this, there was the strain of wearing heavy PPE every day. Not only did this leave physical bruises; make tasks awkward; or leave carers sweltering underneath additional layers, it made dementia and Alzheimer’s patients confused and frightened, owing to lack of facial recognition. There was – in some cases – delays in receiving the correct PPE in the first place.
Piling on was the seemingly endless stories on social media, on TV and in the print press about care homes failing to cope with the demands of the pandemic. Carers – and those who have loved ones in care facilities – were left feeling angry, confused and frustrated.
All of this has built up over the last year and now, with light upon the horizon, many care homes face a talent shortage as staff look to take much needed holidays or are having to take medical leave owing to burnout or anxiety. Many employers are now having to look at new ways to support these essential workers, acknowledging the stress of the past year and improving working conditions.
Just some of the things employers could consider include:
- Access to an EAP service or mental health and wellbeing app
- Better shift patterns
- Ensuring days off and break times are as disturbance free as possible
- Regular 121s and check ins to identify problems early
- Ensuring appropriate PPE is provided where necessary
- Financial rewards / bonuses / improved salary
- Encouraging staff to take holidays
As an article in The Lancet notes, “To effectively support health-care workers — the greatest assets of our health-care systems — we must understand their challenges and needs … [W]e hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will prompt a redefinition of essential support workers, with recognition of the contribution of all health-care workers and appropriate education, protection, and compensation.”
It’s important that our care staff not only feel confident in the post-pandemic world, but valued and respected too. Having played such an important part in ensuring our loved ones have remained cared for under strenuous circumstances, it’s now time to see what types of additional support those who have been doing the caring need in the short- and long-term.
If you would like to speak to me about hiring fully compliant, high quality candidates for your care facility or charity, click here to drop me an email and we can have a chat.
HRC is also running a webinar on June 17 about mental health and wellbeing within the care sector. To register, click here.