Despite all restrictions being lifted, the COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on the entire world. It has reminded us of the value of health, family, community, and freedom. Meanwhile, the most affected by this crisis is the healthcare sector; lessons learned by frontline healthcare workers and caregivers will forever change the way they perform their duties, interact with patients, and take care of themselves.
In this article, local caregivers and front-line healthcare workers share the biggest lessons they have learned during the pandemic and offer advice for other healthcare workers and the general public. We will also tackle some pieces of advice that might prove to be useful for healthcare workers, employers, and patients alike.
“One thing I have learned about this pandemic is the power of compassion and kindness. We are all going through a very difficult time right now, so working as a community and understanding the importance of doing your part is crucial. I’ve also learned that your attitude plays a major role, as well as being kind to the people around you changes the atmosphere into a more positive one despite the current circumstances” – COVID Symptom Screener at St Joseph.
It's imperative to approach frontline workers with compassion and kindness due to the pivotal role they play in our society.
These dedicated professionals are at the forefront of providing essential services, such as healthcare, public safety, and education, often placing their own health and safety at risk. They're involved in emergency care, emergency management, public health infrastructure, infection control, support services, and even policy changes when they bring issues up to the higher-ups.
Demonstrating compassion towards them not only serves as a small gesture of gratitude but also recognizes their selfless efforts in ensuring the well-being of others.
By maintaining a compassionate attitude, we uplift the spirits of frontline staff and provide emotional support during challenging times. Treating frontline workers with kindness fosters an environment of respect and appreciation, motivating them to continue their tireless work with renewed vigour. These people serve as beacons of hope and resilience during crises, acting as pillars for societal harmony especially in medical care like pandemic planning and spreading important information on behalf of medical institutions.
Hence, by extending compassion and kindness towards frontline workers, we acknowledge their immense contribution to society while encouraging unity and empathy among us all.
“I’ve learned you need to check in with yourself frequently and take a step back when needed. Due to high staffing demands and higher demands at work, it is very easy to get burnt out. You need to keep yourself healthy in order to provide quality care to those in need. I have been working overtime for months and am now feeling the effects of it. My body hurts and I am mentally exhausted. I feel that if I have recognized I was starting to feel this way and took a step back from working overtime it could have been prevented. I also think it is important to have something outside of work that will keep you motivated and positive. It's important to leave work at work and be able to go home and focus on yourself. Reach out to your coworkers if you are feeling overwhelmed at work, they are a creative resource and can help you remember that we are all in this together” – Nurse from London, Ontario.
In the professional realm, especially among healthcare workers, it's imperative to approach work with a sense of self-awareness and consistency, especially to promote disease control. Checking in with oneself frequently allows professionals to assess their emotional well-being, identify areas of improvement, and track progress toward their goals.
By regularly reflecting on one's thoughts, emotions, and overall state of mind, people can better understand how external factors impact their performance and decision-making abilities. It enables professionals to address any burnout or mental fatigue they may be experiencing promptly, ensuring they operate at peak efficiency while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Additionally, self-check-ins promote personal growth by encouraging self-reflection and self-evaluation. These introspective moments provide opportunities for professionals like health care workers to acknowledge achievements and strengths while also acknowledging areas that require further development or skill enhancement, ultimately improving the health care system.
Thus, by practicing frequent self-check-ins in a professional context, people optimize their productivity, maintain motivation levels, and achieve long-term career success. Overall, health care organizations must strive for better outcomes, and it must start with every healthcare provider.
“During this pandemic, I have learned that it’s important to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. When a physician or patient is being difficult or showing challenging behaviours, I make sure to keep in mind that I don’t know what they are going through personally and how it may be affecting their mood.” – RN at London Health Science Centre.
In a professional setting, it's vital to give people the benefit of the doubt, as doing so fosters an atmosphere of trust and respect within a team or organization. When we choose to believe that individuals have good intentions and are competent in their roles, we create a positive environment in which collaboration and open communication thrive. Granting others the benefit of the doubt also demonstrates our own emotional intelligence and fairness as leaders.
By refraining from making snap judgments or assumptions about someone's abilities or character based on limited information or isolated incidents, we show empathy and understanding. This not only builds stronger relationships but also encourages personal growth and development by allowing people to learn from their mistakes without fear of immediate judgment or punishment.
Ultimately, giving people the benefit of the doubt helps promote efficient problem-solving, effective decision-making, and harmonious teamwork in a professional setting.
“Based on my own experience as a front-line worker, I would advise other front-line workers to prioritize their wellbeing such as mental health. Feeling burnt out is a major occurrence happening in the hospital right now so understanding that rest is just as important to continue to fight and do your job. Some advice I would tell the public on how to stop the spread of the virus quite simply comes down to wearing a mask and avoiding unnecessary trips outside the house. Also, I advise them to be kind because everyone is going through a difficult time right now, so kindness and compassion are important.” – COVID Symptom Screener at St Joseph.
Prioritizing mental health is crucial to maintaining a successful and fulfilling professional life. Mental well-being directly impacts an individual's ability to function effectively and productively in their chosen career.
Taking care of one's mental health promotes clarity of thought, enhances problem-solving skills, and fosters creativity. Additionally, it enables individuals to manage stress more efficiently, leading to improved focus and higher levels of job satisfaction.
Mental health also plays a significant role in building healthy relationships with colleagues, clients, and superiors, as it cultivates empathy, emotional intelligence, and effective communication skills. Neglecting mental health can result in burnout, decreased productivity, disrupted work-life balance, and strain on personal relationships.
Organizations that prioritize mental health by providing support systems such as counselling or therapy programs foster a positive work environment that encourages employees to thrive both professionally and personally. In light of these reasons, prioritizing mental health is essential for overall professional success and well-being.
“For other healthcare workers I have this advice that definitely helped me out: I found it beneficial to reduce my social media usage as well as my intake of the daily news. I found that scrolling Instagram and the news, subconsciously, put me in a negative mindset and my anxiety increased substantially. It’s important to stay informed but at the end of the day, if something is so imperative to know, you will likely hear about it through work or trusted sources of information” – Nurse from London, Ontario.
In today's fast-paced digital world, it has become increasingly important for professionals to consider reducing their social media usage.
Firstly, excessive time spent on social media platforms can be detrimental to productivity and overall performance in the workplace. Constant notification disruptions can interrupt workflow and lead to tasks being left unfinished or not executed to the best of one's abilities.
Moreover, the addictive nature of social media can lead to a decrease in concentration and focus, hindering critical thinking and problem-solving skills required in professional settings, be they clinics or individual hospitals.
Excessive social media usage can have negative effects on mental well-being. With comparisons, cyberbullying, and information overload prevalent on these platforms, individuals may find themselves feeling anxious or depressed.
By actively reducing social media consumption, professionals are more likely to engage in meaningful face-to-face interactions and allocate time towards personal growth activities that enhance their skills and knowledge.
Ultimately, limiting exposure to social media grants professionals the opportunity for increased productivity and mental clarity and ultimately fosters a healthier work-life balance.
“In general, to help stop the spread of the virus, I would say follow the provincial guidelines. Specifically, if you are experiencing any symptoms, stay home until you feel better! You may feel as though you can go to work with a simple runny nose, but it is important to reduce the transmission and just stay home until you are symptom-free. It is also very important that employers are understanding of this and don’t guilt-trip their employees for taking sick days during this time.” – RN at London Health Science Centre.
Following healthcare guidelines is crucial for several reasons, especially in dealing with new challenges or future events in health care delivery.
First and foremost, adhering to these guidelines or best practices ensures patient safety, optimal care delivery, and maintenance of public health. By following evidence-based practices and established protocols, healthcare professionals can minimize the risk of errors or complications during treatment, ultimately improving patient outcomes in health systems.
Moreover, healthcare guidelines are designed based on extensive research, expert consensus, and clinical trials, making them a reliable source of knowledge in the field.
In primary care, following guidelines also fosters consistency in practice among professionals, enhancing teamwork and collaboration not just as a pandemic response within the healthcare system. Furthermore, compliance with healthcare guidelines demonstrates professionalism and ethical responsibility toward patients, especially amidst a health crisis. It shows that medical staff prioritize evidence-backed approaches over personal bias or assumptions when making decisions about patient care and health services.
Ultimately, following healthcare guidelines is essential for providing medical services, taking on new roles, promoting quality care, addressing health disparities for patient safety, professional accountability, and maintaining public trust in the medical profession, especially in the era of the New Normal and beyond. Simple acts like putting on personal protective equipment are good steps to maintain guidelines.
As we move towards a post-COVID-19 era, healthcare workers must adapt and reassess their practices to ensure the ongoing safety of patients and themselves.
Both healthcare professionals and the general public are encouraged to continue adhering to strict infection control protocols even when the immediate threat of the virus has diminished. This includes meticulous hand hygiene, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and regularly updating their knowledge on emerging infectious diseases.
Additionally, healthcare workers must prioritize mental health support services not only for patients but also for themselves. The pandemic has taken an immense toll on frontline workers, leading to burnout and exhaustion; therefore, promoting self-care and providing resources like counselling or stress management programs are vital.
On a broader scale, the healthcare industry must invest in research and development to improve overall preparedness and response mechanisms for future outbreaks or crises.
Furthermore, collaboration among institutions, regular surveillance systems, and stockpiling essential supplies -- are all necessary steps to mitigate the impacts of pandemics moving forward.
Ultimately, while COVID-19 poses unprecedented challenges, implementing these measures will help ensure that healthcare workers remain vigilant in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and providing high-quality care in the years ahead.
Healthcare workers who have been at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic may find themselves in need of post-pandemic help as they navigate the physical, emotional, and mental toll that this crisis has taken on them.
Fortunately, there are several resources available for healthcare professionals seeking support. Myriad hospitals and healthcare organizations offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide counselling services and referral networks to address issues such as burnout, trauma, and stress management.
Additionally, professional associations like nurses' associations or medical associations provide access to peer support groups and educational resources for self-care. Online platforms such as Headspace or Talkspace offer meditation exercises and virtual counselling sessions tailored to healthcare workers' unique needs. Furthermore, community-based organizations may have specific initiatives aimed at providing mental health assistance to healthcare professionals.
As the road to recovery unfolds with its own set of challenges post-pandemic, it's imperative for healthcare workers to explore these avenues of support to ensure their well-being remains a priority.
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