Coronavirus has put a huge strain on NHS staff who have continued to work long hours under difficult conditions. While these staff are working tirelessly to look after patients, it’s important that we look after them.
As the official charity of NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation has a key role to play in supporting staff wellbeing during these challenging times. An important part of this is ensuring that they have somewhere to go to rest, relax and recharge before, during and after their shifts.
Thanks to generous donations to our COVID-19 Appeal and grants received through NHS Charities Together, staff across NHS Lothian have benefitted greatly from the wellbeing spaces that were put in place during the first peak of the pandemic. Whether that was the renovation of existing spaces, or temporary pop up spaces, these areas became a haven for staff across the hospital sites.
“I hadn’t realised how much I needed a space like this. The more I came up I realised I too needed to get away from thinking about COVID. I reconnected with people up here. People I never met. In here you can get a different perspective.
“My role was to provide pastoral support for staff but what I’ve found is that I have been supported here too and have benefited from it as well.”
Jozef Glerasik, Chaplain, St John’s Hospital, Livingston
Jane Ferguson, Director of Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation, explains the importance of these wellbeing spaces and the longer-term plans for support:
“The role of NHS charities has never been more important than now. Alongside funding for pioneering research and projects that transform the way that care is delivered, we also play a vital role in enhancing wellbeing support for staff. The latter has been a particular focus for us as a charity since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in March this year.
“It was so important that staff remembered to take time to look after themselves. They needed to be fit and well to look after their patients. We therefore worked closely with staff across NHS Lothian to put in place initiatives that would enhance any wellbeing support already in place and help alleviate the stress and strain that staff were under. One way to do this was to provide calm, comfortable areas, where they could take some time for themselves away from clinical settings. Funding was provided to help staff furnish these areas in whatever way they felt would best help them unwind and destress. Whether that was kettles or microwaves, recliner chairs or tvs, even yoga mats or a giant Connect Four game, every item helped in some way to reduce the psychological toll that the pandemic was taking on staff’s emotional and physical health and wellbeing.
“Moving forward, we need to continue to work with teams across every site to look at how we make these wellbeing spaces a permanent feature for staff. Wellbeing is hugely important at all times, not just during Coronavirus. But if this horrible virus leaves us with one positive lasting legacy, let it be that, thanks to the response of donors and fundraisers across the whole country, we have been able to embark on an ambitious programme of longer term, more sustainable support that will address not only the wellbeing needs of all staff as a result of the pandemic but also beyond the recovery and into the post-pandemic phase.”