The COVID-19 pandemic is emerging as the defining health crisis of our generation. Healthcare organisations were already a high-risk environment for workers, who are exposed on a daily basis to the suffering of their patients, tragedy, and the potential for failure. Now, healthcare staff of all kinds are straining to meet the demands of caring for patients with the novel coronavirus. Caring for patients with COVID-19 places them at personal risk for infection, and also poses a threat to their emotional well-being.
If workers are not provided with sufficient emotional support, the distress can be disabling. It may render them less able to work to their full ability. This in turn can threaten the integrity of the health care workforce to deliver the volumes of care required by the pandemic. In the longer term individual workers are at risk for accelerated burnout, and for mental health problems like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management asked their international editorial board to provide advice for healthcare leaders and managers and frontline clinicians for meeting the emotional needs of healthcare workers and supporting one another. They identified several priority areas central to maintaining and promoting the well-being of the workforce during the pandemic. These included meeting basic needs, improving crisis leadership and communication, promoting well-being, and providing mental and emotional support.