Space To Be – help care for our NHS carers
Since the coronavirus outbreak, our NHS staff have been under unimaginable pressure. With your help, we can make sure they get the care and support they need and deserve.
Be there for them
Staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ have worked tirelessly, under immense stress, to tackle the pandemic. They have battled fear, anxiety and exhaustion, and many have made personal sacrifices, including isolating from their own families to protect them.
Thanks to your donations, Guy’s and St Thomas’ have been able to set up temporary wellbeing zones and specialist psychological support, which are helping staff to cope with the mental and emotional challenges they face.
Staff have already told us this is making a difference. But we can’t stop now, we need your help to keep this support going, through the pandemic and beyond.
“Care and self-care are so important for staff. We all have really demanding jobs, so to be able to come to the wellbeing zone and use things like the massage chair lifts your mood. More importantly, people felt cared for, and that’s the most important thing, that feeling of ‘I matter’. I’d love to see this continued long term.”
Doris Gaga, Guy's and St Thomas' staff member
“It’s just like shell shock” – Stephen’s story
As a senior nurse on the intensive care unit, Stephen Cutler was on the front line as the pandemic hit. Stephen has been working at St Thomas' Hospital for 17 years, but nothing could have prepared him and his colleagues for what they faced. Stephen explains:
“It’s a shock. You've been sent to a Covid-19 unit, then suddenly, you're on the front line. And you're seeing this disease you hear everyone talking about that's killing lots of people around the world. It’s just like shell shock. It hits you all of a sudden.”
But it wasn’t just the pressure at work that affected Stephen, taking what he had seen and experienced home was also difficult:
“When you come home, that’s added stress. You can’t really debrief or tell people at home what it’s been like, because you can’t really describe it. And you don’t want to, because you don’t want to relive the fear. So, of course, that adds pressure.
“And you’re scared to bring anything home. Mentally I tried to leave everything at work, but there's no way of coming down from that. So, the cycle home feels like the best thing ever, because it’s the only ‘me’ time.
“For me, the hardest thing was not being able to come down for a long, long time, weeks, if not months. It's been very difficult, and that put a strain on my relationships.”
How donations have already made an impact
The wellbeing support they have received has been a lifeline for staff, as Stephen explains:
“I’d had probably one of the hardest shifts I've ever had in my life. In the morning, I came downstairs and an email went round about this wellbeing centre, and initially I thought I'll just go and get a free cookie or a banana.
“Then I got there, and it wasn't just a free cookie. People are there who genuinely care about what you're doing. I spoke to Roisin Fitzsimons, one of the senior nurses, who asked questions that only another nurse could ask. She gave me some hand cream because my hands had been washed so much, they were torn to shreds. It felt like I was being cared for again.
“Being there I didn't have to be a hero. Because I'm very senior at my job – I’ve had to look after and help out junior staff around me because they're all scared. So, I didn't have to go down there and be that person, I could just go be Steve.”
Show them you care – help keep the support going
With the most acute symptoms of mental illness sometimes presenting up to three years later, it is vital that staff continue to get this wellbeing support. Not only will it help them to recover from the trauma they have faced, but it will also reduce the likelihood of them developing longer-term mental health conditions.
Being there for them now, will mean they are physically and mentally well enough to be there for those who need them in future.
“COVID-19 has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging times we have ever experienced, but we also face challenging and complex decisions every day.
“Having somewhere to relax and unwind, and receive the psychological support you need, can change a difficult shift or experience into something you can cope with and learn from.
“I really believe spaces like this not only help support our wellbeing, but it’s also really nice to just feel valued for the job we do.”
Roisin Fitzsimons, Head of the Nightingale Academy and Consultant Nurse
How your support will help Stephen and his colleagues
Your donations will have a huge impact on staff care and wellbeing, including:
- Making the wellbeing zones, which have been such a lifeline for staff, permanent across our hospitals. Here they will have access to massage chairs, complementary therapies, and space for a moment of escape.
- Offering a comprehensive psychological and spiritual support package, designed to meet the needs of the diverse workforce. This will aid ongoing and long-term trauma recovery.
- Ensuring that, at whatever time of day staff may be working, they have access to complimentary coffee, tea and healthy snacks to help them recharge, boost morale, and feel valued and appreciated.
Together, we can help make sure staff at Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Evelina London continue to receive the wellbeing support they need, through the pandemic and beyond. Thank you!