As we have recently passed the 12-month milestone of the pandemic having taken effect, the mental strains and stress levels of care workers across the country are still reverberating.
Today, one in five people* who are working the care sector are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with anxiety or workplace stress still something being dealt with – and often alone.
Senior staff at Red Homes Healthcare Group, located across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, know first-hand about the mental and physical strains placed on its people, after more than 10 members of its critical care team were struck by Covid-19 in January 2021.
Diane Watson, senior manager at Red Homes comments: “We couldn’t dwell on the fact that our people had to take time off, we called on team members from our other homes to step in.
“It was one of the toughest times during the entire pandemic – stress levels were understandably high, and it was important that we kept a close watch on every member of our team, even our most experienced, as we navigated our way through truly unprecedented challenging times.
“We did, however, ride the storm as a team and now seem to be in much calmer waters, with all of our staff back giving their devoted care around-the-clock that our residents deserve and depend upon.”
During Stress Awareness Month in April, Red Homes gave back to its staff as a thank you and in recognition for all the hard work and extra time that had been dedicated.
The care provider launched a Wellness Card – a small act of kindness with big rewards.
Diane adds: “The pressures that were placed on our people were tremendous and we know not everyone was able to cope positively.
“So often we’re left to ourselves to find ways and means of dealing with life’s everyday pressures and this was our way of helping our team along a little, if they don’t naturally put themselves and their mental health first.”
Stress-busting loyalty card
Each and every member of Red’s four care homes received a wellness card for them to tick off when they completed a positive activity for themselves – whether that was a yoga session to calm the mind and ease the body, some deep breathing exercises to reconnect with their own body again or a chance to have some outdoor time, whether that was walking, running or cycling.
“Inside and outside of work we wanted our people to invest in themselves again and we wanted the wellness card be a little accountability buddy that enabled them to track their own personal progress.
“Each card had a 30-day tracker on it as we knew, from research, that it takes approximately a month for positive patterns to turn into positive habits.”
To ensure that staff remained on track, they were sent a link to stress busting resources they could plug into during a rest period at work or back at home.
These ranged from online yoga courses and singing lessons, links offering tips on how to meditate and the importance of breathing for calm. All of these were sent to staff as a way of starting them off on their journey to being stress free with a view to them helping themselves and finding their own pockets of joy in whatever direction they wanted to take.
Diane concludes: “We knew that some of the resources weren’t going to be for everyone, but with the intention in place, we were confident that it would instigate new habits for our teams of people to research what exactly they could do to help themselves that was also enjoyable.
“We had feedback that some people began reading again – sometimes just a page, other times a whole chapter from a book. Even though this wasn’t in our original line up of activities, it gave inspiration. And this sort of inspiration was just what we hoped for.
All of our activities have really engaged our staff, our residents and our management team, and we hope that such activities will continue to inspire others.”