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Ashgate Hospice > Ashgate Hospicecare looking out for staff and volunteer wellbeing as report highlights strain on frontline workers

Ashgate Hospicecare have reiterated the importance of looking after their workforce during the Coronavirus pandemic, as new research reveals that the first wave has left many frontline workers with severe anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The study, from King’s College London, found poor mental health was common in frontline staff, particularly nurses.  

Hayley Wardle, Director of Quality and Patient Care at Ashgate Hospicecare described the results as “not surprising and that they reinforce wellbeing practices as essential for every frontline worker, including our own.” 

She added: “The importance of looking after staff and volunteer wellbeing, particularly during times of crisis, should not be understated. Everyone is going above and beyond to pull together in the fightback against this dreadful virus.  

“We are doing all we can to support our colleagues in the NHS, such as increasing the number of daily admissions from Chesterfield Royal Hospital and caring for more people in their own homes, avoiding another hospital admission. 

“This increase in demand for our services, in addition to the increase in staff absences caused by those shielding or self-isolating, has led to many having to pick up extra shifts, work longer hours or support in roles that aren’t part of their usual workload.  

“Understandably this will lead to an increase in stress, which if not acknowledged, will have a huge impact on wellbeing.” 

‘Wobble Rooms’ encourage staff and volunteers to offload their day 

The charity, which provides specialist end-of-life care to patients with complex palliative care needs across North Derbyshire, introduced a safe space for staff and volunteers from across the organisation to talk confidentially.  

The virtual space, known as a Wobble Room, allows staff and volunteers to talk with a trained counsellor when they are feeling overwhelmed, or when they need space to be able to gather their thoughts. 

This is in addition to regular team huddleswhich are short get-togethers designed for team members to check in with each other. Huddles provide staff and volunteers with time to stop and spend time together, think about things collectively and offer support when needed.  

Support extended to NHS colleagues  

Ashgate Hospicecare have also extended this service to staff at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, who like the hospice, are facing unprecedented demand due to COVID-19.  

Arlene Honeyman, Head of Supportive Care at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “We are experts in providing bereavement counselling and support – both to our own teams and to friends and families of patients at the hospice. We are pleased to be supporting our colleagues at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, who are working in this challenging environment.” 

The charity is also providing on-site support to Chesterfield Royal Hospital with specialist counselling services. The confidential sessions offer NHS staff a safe place to talk openly about their anxieties, concerns and experiences in a supportive way. In recent weeks, the charity has received funding to pay for a permanent member of staff to continue this service post COVID. 

Arlene concludes: “Never before have they had to care for so many end-of-life patients, whilst worrying about their own health and the health of their loved ones. NHS teams and hospice teams aren’t superhuman, they need care and support like anyone else. 

“Right now, emotional support is crucial.”