Great Britain

BRI acquire Dolly the dog to help staffs' mental wellbeing

COVID-19 has had a terrible effect on the country's mental health, none more so than those who work in hospitals also having to deal with the stresses of being on the frontline.

A survey from Unison shows nearly one in two health workers are struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis, suffering severe mental health problems such as panic attacks and having sleepless nights.

The trade union has called for free 24-hour helplines and other measures to help staff. Something the BRI have been very keen to implement since the beginning of the pandemic.

From establishing 'wellbeing, formerly wobble, rooms/spots' to creating an app to expanding their chaplaincy service, the hospital is doing all they can. They have even enlisted the help of a furry friend.

That is right Dolly, the 18-month-old Jack-Shitz, will be available for walks by staff around the BRI from February to allow those struggling to take a moment away from it all.

Chief Nurse Karen Dawber said: "When people talk about suffering from ill mental health that varies from feeling down right the way through to the upper end.

"If you speak to most people at the moment, everybody is getting a bit fed up and probably are not coping as well as they were three or four months ago. That is reflective of the whole nation, not just key workers.

"Some of the support networks that you had; are no longer there so you have to find different ways of dealing with your wellbeing.

"As a trust we became aware early on that we were putting a lot of additional strain on staff. So, we did a number of things to try have open conversations with them. More recently we have started to look at even more innovative ways to helping them.

"We still remember staff need to take their breaks and holidays; they don't want to because they just want to help.

"People say 'it is a marathon, not a sprint', and that is right. 12 months ago, I did not think we would be where we are now.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. But we are not going to get back to normal for a number of months."

Almost half of the14,000 health employees including nurses, porters, paramedics, healthcare assistants and A&E staff across the UK surveyed by the union said they have struggled to cope.

Former Bradford Bulls star Nathan Graham, who worked as an operating department practitioner before switching departments due to the pandemic, knows hospitals are trying their utmost to cater for their staffs' mental health.

Although now in Oldham, Graham was working on the BRI's intensive care unit last year.

"I do think the BRI has done the best it can to help people," he added.

"You are seeing things at work that you have not seen before. There is a lot more deaths and sick people.

"You are worried about keeping yourself and your family safe at the same time.

"You can get more ventilators and more beds but you cannot get more staff so people are doing jobs which they would not necessarily have done before and trying to learn new things as they go.

"At work we are really strict and careful, wearing PPE and washing our hands etc. But it is still at the back of your mind that you or someone else has missed something."

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