Hospitals open wellness suites to support frontline workers

Two Ayrshire hospitals have given key staff space to recuperate and relax away from clinical settings.

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Two Ayrshire hospitals have opened staff wellness suites to support staff working on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran say the initiative aims to support hard-working staff during the pandemic by giving them a space to recuperate and relax away from clinical settings.

Staff from all disciplines are welcome to access services through the suites at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock and University Hospitals Ayr.

The sites are open 24/7 and offer a clinical psychology service, medical peer support, chaplaincy and staff care sanctuaries.

Dr Sharon Mulhern, a clinical psychologist at Crosshouse Hospital, said: “One of the reasons we have this is concerns about ‘is there going to be more of a pandemic of mental health difficulties’.

“And although I can’t say that that won’t happen, we know that if we provide a safe, secure environment for people to address their mental wellbeing there is less chance of us developing burnout in our staff,” she added.

Crosshouse hospital has more than doubled its intensive care capacity and for many staff – including senior charge nurse Clare Brennan – a place to decompress is essential.

“It’s quite all-consuming and, yeah, it has been stressful and, you know, additional work for everybody but I think we’re doing a really good job.”

Some staff are isolating themselves from their families to shield them while they care for Covid-19 patients. Others try to wash off all traces of their day at the hospital before they head home.

In the intensive care unit, the biggest change is the level of PPE and how they connect with their patients.

For now, they all take each at a day at a time and focus on being there for their patients and each other.