Blessy has been a nurse for more than 16 years and during 2020 she was redeployed to manage an acute Covid-19 ward (ACU and AAU) at Newham Hospital. She tells us about her emotional year and the importance of communication, support and mental health services for healthcare staff during the pandemic.
“The last year has been a challenging year. Being a nurse, I have had mixed emotions and feelings. I have often felt low seeing patients unwell and desperate to meet their families,” recalls Blessy.
“During this pandemic, I am grateful that my family has been there always to support me, helping me to manage my emotional, mental and physical stress. At times I have been overwhelmed by their love and support, they would sit and let me talk, which has helped me to open up with my feelings. Sometimes the workload has been too much and I have worked late, but my family would wait for me to have dinner together. This quality time has made a lot of difference to my energy and motivation levels.”
Working with a smile through difficult times
Blessy added: “I’ve encouraged staff to share their feelings and thoughts with me. There are staff who have experienced loss within their family, and who have needed someone to talk to and vent out their feelings. They have felt lonely, low in energy, and have lost confidence when situations have been unmanageable. I have tried to be helpful and available, to keep my staff emotionally, mentally and physically strong so that they can provide better care and support to patients and their families.”
“My team is my motivation to come to work and when staff say I make a difference to the unit, I am delighted. The pandemic may be easing but it has taught us how to work with a smile even when times are exceptionally difficult. We try to support each other with debriefing sessions after stressful shifts, and have also been offered additional wellbeing and psychological support, which has really helped some of my colleagues to cope. I thank God and everyone who has encouraged us throughout the pandemic with their kind words and prayers.”
Psychological Support Service
Responding to the pressures put on staff during the pandemic we’ve funded a new Psychological Support Service
that is now up and running across Barts Health NHS Trust
, with clinical psychologists available to support staff in each of the trust’s five hospitals. In the first month alone, 25 staff were given one-to-one support for mental health issues such as low mood, sleep problems, trauma, and bereavement.
Dr Carla Croft is leading the service, and says that a lot of the initial work was in relation to the second wave of Covid-19:
“We are so pleased to be able to launch our new psychological support service for staff at a time when there is clearly a lot of need. We have found ourselves starting with short pieces of work to help staff connect with their own natural ways of regaining strength and also to reconnect with each other to reflect on their experiences. We all feel so privileged to be working alongside our colleagues to help them focus in on their well-being at this important time.”
Read more about how we have supported our NHS heroes through our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal.