Care home nurses still require help to recover from Covid trauma: Research
7 December, 2022 | Vaishali Sharma
People on the front lines of the Covid outbreak require mental health care to assist them recover from or manage the stress and trauma they endured, study suggested.
According to study conducted by the University of East Anglia, people on the front lines of the Covid outbreak require mental health care to assist them recover from or manage the stress and trauma they endured.
A new paper released today looks into the impact of the epidemic on nurses working in nursing homes. It demonstrates how care home nurses were unprepared for the position they found themselves in, thus impacting their mental health and wellness.
According to the research team, these frontline workers require a mental health and wellbeing approach to aid in their recovery from the symptoms of trauma and moral distress that they experienced throughout the epidemic.
Lead researcher Diane Bunn, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, said: “Our work shows that care home nurses were completely unprepared for the extraordinary situation they found themselves in during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that this has impacted their mental health and wellbeing.
“They had to manage a highly infectious new disease, associated with high mortality, in residents already living with complex clinical conditions.
“They did this alongside staff shortages, constantly changing and conflicting guidelines and with minimal external professional support.
“Health and social care staff are still very much in a recovery phase. They need time to recover from all that happened during the pandemic and many of them will need counselling and mental health support for some time.
“Supporting care home nurses to recover from the pandemic is essential to maintain a healthy, stable workforce.”
The research team carried out in-depth interviews with care home nurses about their experiences of the pandemic, across homes for older people in England and Scotland. They particularly focused on the nurses’ resilience and mental wellbeing.
“All of the nurses we spoke to described being attentive to the needs of others, but less attentive to their own needs, which came at personal cost,” said Bunn.
“There are many lessons to be learnt to support their recovery and ensure appropriate policies are in place in preparedness for the next pandemic,” she added.
The study highlights a range of strategies to help nurses accept and recover from their experiences, and suggestions for how to better-prepare for future pandemics. These include:
– Bespoke mental health and wellbeing strategy for care home nurses in the current pandemic recovery period and ensuring that this is ongoing and adaptable for future pandemics and disasters.
– Wider professional and government recognition of the specialist skills required of care home nurses.
– Revisit guidance to better prepare for any future pandemics and disasters on care homes
Involvement of care home nurses in the development of disaster-response policies in care homes.
– Consistency of guidelines, and research-informed methods for effective communication of guidelines.
“Support for care home nurses will likely benefit other care-home workers either directly through wider roll-out, or indirectly through improved wellbeing of nurse leaders,” added Bunn.
This work was led by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with researchers at the University of Leicester. It was funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).