Your mask first
Everyone has heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” which pretty much means that in order to take care of others you must take care of yourself. A little like putting your own breathing mask on before someone else’s on a plummeting plane. Perhaps a little less stressful and life-threatening but the mentality is the same; put yourself and your own health and well-being first in order to enable you to care for someone else. This is the same in healthcare roles, you must be healthy and well to perform your job properly and safely. If you are sick; coughing and spluttering over an elderly, vulnerable person in your care is not going to go down well. No one wants to be ill but nobody wants somebody sick taking care of them, serving them meals, getting them dressed and coughing their germs all over.
There are going to be times when you get ill and catch bugs, it is part of life, particularly those working in healthcare environments where sickness is higher than in other industries. In order to maintain as high a level of self-care and healthiness as possible it is essential to look after yourself and your well-being. Making sure to thoroughly wash your hands, before and after seeing patients or residents, is a given as is wearing the correct protective clothing; masks, gloves, aprons etc. and disposing of them appropriately to avoid the spreading of germs and illnesses.
Simple methods of good hygiene can go a long way in reducing the risk for you as a healthcare worker, keeping on top of your well-being should be a priority.
A good level of health is key, keeping yourself fueled, hydrated and physically strong in order to do the job as some roles are quite physical and require lifting of patients in and out of chairs, beds and any situation where they may have fallen. Being strong and healthy is crucial to be able to safely look after a patient who has fallen.
Mental health matters
Mental health is as important as physical health and working in any healthcare role can take its toll mentally. Find a support network, someone you can vent to about a difficult day, let off some steam and talk through your worries and frustrations. It can be a difficult job at times, no matter what role you have, and everyone needs someone to talk things through with.
Keeping a balanced life outside of your role is a valuable way of keeping your mind healthy. Having hobbies and interests gives you time away from work, time to recuperate and switch off. Even if it is only something small and simple, anything that gives you time to do something for yourself is important. Pick up that knitting!
All healthcare roles are demanding, whether you are a nurse, a hospital porter or a care home worker, each one brings its own stresses and demands and so taking care of yourself, helps you become great at what you do. Look after yourself so you can look after others.