Thanks to you

CSP education adviser Nina Paterson offers her support and gratitude to CSP members during this challenging time

Thanks to you

It feels strange writing this CPD article during the lockdown. Very little seems normal right now, work and home life have been turned upside down. Here at the CSP we’ve gone from being four offices across the UK peppered with about 30 homeworkers to an entire organisation of homeworkers. I feel like I’ve taken up residence on Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. 

I am a teacher at heart so I can’t help but see the sheer volume of learning opportunities going on right now as colleagues race to the frontline, returning to skills that may not have been practised for some time. That said, even I know that now is not the time to talk about SWOT analysis and reflections. So while everything is upside down, all I want to focus on in this article are two things – a thank you and a request that you all take care of yourselves.

Thank you

I hope right now you’ve seen the rainbows adorning so many windows and heard your neighbours banging their pots and pans, clapping and stomping their feet. If you are working at Addenbrookes then know that I’m in the houses on the other side of the bird reserve screaming and clapping with the rest of my neighbours for you. We hope you can hear us from across the field and water! 

I’d give anything for a treatment/vaccine to be found in record time, but until then we’ll keep cheering and being grateful that should any of us end up in hospital we’re in the best hands possible. Until that point I want to leave you with a news article that sums up our thanks better than I could. This 99-year old war veteran has raised [at time of writing] £28 million to say thank you to you and your colleagues. He thinks you are the true heroes – and I’d have to agree with him. And because you are physios first-and-foremost, in the same way I can’t switch off being a teacher I’d be willing to bet you’re reading and watching thinking something along the lines of ‘see – that’s what happens when you stay active!’ 

Take care

While the cheering is bittersweet and my tone may come across as light-hearted, I do appreciate the risks and the personal cost counting that many of you have gone through. My partner, who is a physio, is out there working too (as is my stepson as a junior doctor) and I’m not sure which of us is more worried about the others right now. 

So while I may have peppered this article with humour, that’s in large part a defence mechanism – a means to cope with the sheer pace of change, loss of control, horror at the daily briefings throwing out disembodied death toll numbers, fear for family, friends and colleagues. Right now we need mechanisms such as humour to diffuse the enormity of it all. I received an invite to join Facebook Healthcare Workers United (UK) recently. Interspersed with discussions and sharing of good practice, there are also the videos of healthcare workers dancing, and silly or defiant memes that are circulating.  Humour is so necessary because if you don’t laugh… Which leads me to the real point of the article – taking care of yourself. 

Right now you’ll have seen the CSP’s COVID-19 resources springing up and changing by the day. I know many of you are accessing it for help, advice and guidance on how to take care of others – your patients/clients/service users – but I want to highlight a section we’ve pulled together for you. Coronavirus isn’t going away so we’re in it for the long haul. Humour and adrenaline only go so far! Find mechanisms and support networks that work for you and while the jokes help, make sure you have people to talk to on a very real level. There’s no CPD activity for this article except a request that if you do find yourself struggling please don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed. You’ll find the links to a number of channels of support on the website. And please know you’re not alone – from all of us here at the CSP we are by your side! 

Look out for the tell-tale signs in yourself or others

  • Feeling overwhelmed scared or anxious
  • Unable to sleep
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Feeling constantly worried, 
  • Disinterest in things you would normally enjoy
  • Avoiding other people
  • Eating more or loss of appetite
  • Drinking more than normal

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