As I listen to nurses all over Scotland trying to make sense of the current situation, I realise the enormity of what we are facing collectively. It’s great that wobble rooms are being set up across hospitals where staff are offered a place to let go, to unravel and express their emotions. For community-based staff that’s trickier – how many cars have become wobble rooms, the only safe space to cry?
And that emotional impact is intensified just now. I turn on the radio and hear poetry expressing the deepest sadness, the grief of a losing loved one, and I switch to twitter for my heart to melt at the sound of NHS Lanarkshire choir singing Lean on me. So many tears – sadness and warmth, pain and deep connection. How do we process it all?
That’s why it’s so important we reach out to each other and share how we are feeling, to recognise our interdependence and experience team as family. It’s only together that we can cope with the sense of anger as PPE still isn’t reaching everywhere it’s needed; the pain of listening to someone just told of a terminal cancer diagnosis finding out that the team who would normally support have been redeployed to COVID initiatives; the energy required to contain the extreme distress felt by someone whose mental health is challenged even in the good times; the emotional impact of having conversations about anticipatory care.
As nurses and midwives our greatest expertise is in communicating our support and compassion to others. And yet we sometimes fail to show that to ourselves. We are innovators, always ready to find ways to provide people with the care they need, whether that’s using video calls to support new mothers to breastfeed, or families in lockdown with a child with ADHD ... or working in new partnerships with extraordinary volunteers to feed and accommodate those who are homeless.
Let’s innovate in the way we care for ourselves. Let’s find new ways to remind each other that we are enough. Let’s prioritise those moments of stillness just to ‘be’, to bring loving kindness to ourselves so we can continue to share it with others.
QNIS Chief Executive and Nurse Director