To provide the best care for our patients, we must take care of ourselves

Kate Heaps
Kate Heaps

CEO of Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice

As part of the Our Frontline campaign to support the mental health of all those out working to protect us during the coronavirus crisis, we’ll be regularly sharing stories, tips and other thoughts about what life is like for them at the moment, in their own words.

Here, Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice CEO Kate Heaps talks about how the pandemic has impacted her team, and what she’s hoped she’s learned for the future.

It’s hard to describe to someone who hasn’t been working in health or social care​Wellbeing support by telephone for health and social care staff Web page As part of Our Frontline, NHS and care staff in England can call Samaritans' dedicated confidential support line free on 0800 069 6222, 7am–11pm every day. Staff anywhere else in the UK can call on 116 123 to speak with a trained listening volunteer.Free By: Samaritans View resource how difficult this year has been. The fear and uncertainty we faced in the early days and weeks, followed by the extreme tiredness and exhaustion​Sleep and mental health PDF This one-page PDF fact sheet from Unilever highlights some of the reasons why poor mental health and sleep deprivation are linked, and offers techniques for improving the amount and quality of your sleep.Free By: Unilever View resource of working more hours than we should, sleeping badly as we worry about going into work and using our brains to problem solve like never before has certainly taken its toll on me. I know that as I try to support my colleagues to reflect on what we’ve been through and look to a brighter and more hopeful future where new opportunities to serve our patients and communities lie, we are all so, so tired​Sleep and shift work PDF Good sleep helps you to be able to cope with stress more effectively, and is important for memory and focus. However, for shift workers, getting a good sleep can be difficult. This guide has tips that can help.Free By: Unilever View resource.

Hopefully we’ll all find a bit of spring motivation

There are some days where by home time, I just can’t find the energy to cook dinner, let alone get out there and try to be sociable with family and friends. My consumption of takeaways has risen, along with my weight and all of this I know won’t be helping my energy levels​Emotional energy PDF This PDF guide from Unilever explains what emotional energy is, and how it interacts with your wellbeing.Free By: Unilever View resource. So that’s why we’ve made this month Health and Wellbeing month at Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. We’ve worked in partnership with our neighbours, St Christopher’s to develop a great programme of activities for everyone to enjoy, and hopefully we’ll all find a bit of spring motivation, learn some new skills and reinject a bit of joy into our lives!

People run together in a field.

It feels as though the world is beginning to get back on with life​Guide for employees: what can you do to make sure you thrive on your return to work? PDF This guide is designed to help you during your first few months back at work following a period of absence due to mental ill-health. It's based on the IGLOo model, looking at the Individual, Group, Leader and Organisation's parts to play.Free By: University of Sheffield View resource, and I’ve been left behind, that little bit more nervous than my friends and neighbours. I hope that with a focus on healthy eating, my plan to walk 100 miles in May and following the daily wellbeing tip in our Hospice calendar each day, I’ll be feeling a bit more confident as we come out of lockdown. I hope that my new found hobby of needle-felting and my re-found love of needlepoint will give me a bit of mindful time​Creating a 10-minute Pause Space Web page This guide is designed to help team leaders to run a short session, called a 'Pause Space', which allows staff to take some time to relax, reflect on their work, and show appreciation for their colleagues.Free By: NHS England and NHS Improvement View resource and space to slow down and breathe, allowing my body to come down off the adrenaline high I’ve been living on for the last year.

We’re definitely having more conversations already

I hope that I’ll come out of this a better leader. I’ll listen more, and try harder to give my team the time and support they need to carry our new projects. We’re definitely having more conversations​How can you have the right conversation to support an employee at work? PDF As a line manager, it’s important to recognise how to manage the emotional wellbeing of employees at work. This two-page guide from Nuffield Health explores five key steps to help staff move from emotionally barely surviving back to thriving.Free By: Nuffield Health View resource already about our own mental health, about our vulnerabilities and the importance of rest. If we are going to be here to serve our patients, many of whom have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, we need to take better care of ourselves.

A dentist explains an x-ray to his patient

I hope that the activities we have planned for this month will help managers and colleagues to learn new skills to support one another to recover, we’ve got mindfulness training ongoing and are developing more mental health first aiders. We’re also supporting leaders to be compassionate​Compassionate Employers Web page Terminal illness, caring for a loved one, and bereavement can affect anyone. Hospice UK's Compassionate Employers programme offers advice and support for organisations who want to look out for their employees during these difficult times.Paid forEnquire via website to order By: Hospice UK View resource in their approach through our involvement in leadership support circles; it’s great that we’ve been so well supported by our system partners in SE London NHS in this.

I also hope that any colleagues who are still struggling, will ask for help, either by talking to their manager, a colleague, a member of their HR team or by reaching out to Our Frontline for support. Our frontline provides free, confidential emotional support for those working in the care sector. All care staff can call 0300 303 4434, text FRONTLINE to 85258 or visit ourfrontline.org.

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