Care workers, our most undervalued and overworked resource are some of the brave women and men who have been working on the frontline from day one of the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to work from home, and constantly living with the fear of being infected or infecting their loved ones, the past year has taken its toll on the mental health of care workers in more ways than one.
Being constantly exposed to the potentially deadly COVID-19, and with cases of the virus skyrocketing in some areas, care workers are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious and burned out. A massive 93% of care workers admitted to experiencing stress; with 86% saying they had anxiety, 77% frustration, and 76% exhaustion. More than three quarters were worried about exposing their loved ones – in particular their children – to COVID, and huge percentages reported trouble sleeping, work-related dread, emotional exhaustion, physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches, and a worrying 56% had started questioning their career path.
These worrying statistics show just how desperately care workers need emotional and practical support when it comes to working under these unprecedented conditions we’ve found ourselves in.
But these are just numbers.
Let’s look at the human stories; the toll that COVID-19, an invisible deadly foe has taken on our Care In Kent family. We are not the only ones of course, care workers all over the country will all have similar tales to tell. But this is ours.
Guilt is the overriding emotion for many in the care profession, whatever the circumstances – guilt that we’re not doing enough for our clients, guilt that we spend a lot of time away from our homes and families…but during the pandemic these feelings are compounded and magnified.
An extra element of guilt comes from those of us who aren’t on the frontline, who are instead having to shield in our offices or are fulfilling an administrative role from home. We are a family, and the thought that some members of our Care In Kent family are putting themselves at a higher level of risk by caring for clients everyday fills those of us who aren’t with anguish and guilt.
Again, this goes without saying for people who work as carers – it’s an incredibly mentally, physically and emotionally demanding job – but add a potentially deadly virus into the mix and that exhaustion is taken to a whole other level.
Being resilient and responsible in the face of such adversity is tiring….making sure that there is enough PPE, wearing masks all day, keeping to government guidelines of social distancing as well as possible – or not being able to when we are dealing with incredibly frail, elderly and vulnerable clients means we are constantly on high alert.
And Yet We Keep Going…
Our team keeps going. Those of us that can come in every day….we try to stay positive and lift each other’s spirits, and those in charge lead us with skill, grace and dignity. Nobody complains; even though we are all exhausted.
We ache – our bodies and our hearts. We are tired, we are drained. We cry; in private and with each other. We are scared for our clients, for our families, for each other, and for ourselves. We are haunted by COVID-19 and its effects, but we are not victims, we are soldiers. We band together in strength and stand united in the path of this virus; we continue to care for our clients with the utmost compassion and professionalism – because it’s what we do and who we are.
We are Care In Kent, and we will not be beaten.