As we mark the anniversary of the beginning of the first lockdown, it’s safe to say we have all found the last year difficult. The added stress put upon healthcare workers has lead to worries about their immediate and future wellbeing. There are concerns that staff are overwhelmed and exhausted by the continuously increased levels of pressure, stress and anxiety.
An evidence-based research paper published by the New Economics Foundation in 2008 suggested five core actions we can do proactively to improve mental health and wellbeing, the “Five Ways to Wellbeing”
Connect: Stay in touch with friends, family, neighbours; be there for others, build strong meaningful relationships. It’s ok to ask for help.
Keep Learning: Be curious and seek out new experience and learn new techniques to help you cope. Find the time to ask questions and learn from your service users and colleagues.
Be Active: Do regular physical activity whether that’s going for a walk, yoga or an online fitness video. It’s tough when you are busy and while gyms are closed during lockdown, but doing some activity makes you feel good.
Give: Working in the care sector requires an enormous amount of kindness. Take a step back and appreciate yourself for the work you are doing.
Take Notice: Sometimes we are just too busy to notice and be mindful of our surroundings; take time to appreciate the world around you and appreciate yourself!
Good mental wellbeing doesn’t mean you will never have a difficult day or find situations hard. But it does mean that you will have the tools to cope better with those tough times.
Promoting Wellbeing in Care Staff
Advice for Care Staff
If you are working in care at any level, this last year will have taken a toll. It’s important to look out for yourself and each other. Be there for your colleagues and really listen. Offer practical support or advice when it’s needed. Encourage your colleagues to eat well, have regular sleep, be active, and remember to do so yourself.
Ask others how they are and take the opportunity to discuss difficulties with colleagues. Be a good listener, sometimes people just need to tell their story and find some you are comfortable talking to when you need to.
Kindness is magic, being kind to others encourages them to do the same and ripples around a team. Be kind to others and they will be kind to you.
As a team give yourselves something to look forward to. For example, plan a virtual ‘work night out’.
Advice for Care Managers
If you are managing a team in care, there are steps you can take to make it easier on your staff. Being asked to do new things can cause anxiety and stress. It’s important to provide sufficient training and support. Pairing new, less experienced staff with more experienced members can provide support and reduce anxiety.
It’s important as a leader of a team you provide good leadership. Be a good role model and follow the principles you suggest your staff stick to. Providing good supervision, access to necessary equipment and peer support.
At such a busy time, it’s easy for staff to keep working. It’s essential to allow time for rest and a quiet room to take a break and recharge before carrying on. Ensure staff are hydrated and have time to eat properly.
Finally, as a manager in care, encourage staff to come to you if they have any concerns. And to also be on the lookout for any members of the team who may be struggling.
There is Strength in Asking for Help
North East & North Cumbria ICS Staff Resilience Hub has been set up to offer a range of physical and psychological wellbeing support, including, access to experienced therapists and evidence-based treatments. The confidential helpline is staffed by expert NHS psychological practitioners, who know what it is like to work through the pressures and difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is open to all NHS staff and our health and care sector partners.
Call 0191 223 2030 seven days a week 7am – 9pm