A senior cancer nurse is at the heart of efforts at Hinchingbrooke Hospital to provide counselling and emotional support to overwhelmed healthcare professionals on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.
Lynda Hall, the Macmillan lead cancer nurse at North West Anglia Foundation Trust (NWAngliaFT), said she has never known such “challenging times” in almost four decades of caring for patients and their families.
Lynda, who is also a qualified counsellor, is now part of the team manning new emotional wellbeing spaces for staff – known as ‘wobble rooms’ – in the mornings, evenings and weekends at Peterborough City and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals.
It is hoped that the new spaces, which remain open during the day for anyone needing a breather, will remind workers that “having a wobble is okay”.
She said: “We are trying our best to support staff through these challenging times and reassure them that it’s okay to not be okay.
“When people pop in to see us, it’s often because they are feeling anxious and overwhelmed and just need somewhere safe to offload their worries.
“We need to support our staff so they can support our patients.”
Furnished with comfortable chairs and resources to support staff in managing their physical and mental wellbeing, the rooms are similar to spaces being set up across the UK as NHS trusts seek to support staff with the emotional toll of working through the crisis.
Lynda has also been overseeing changes to enable cancer care to continue during the pandemic, including a large-scale shift to telephone appointments.
“Cancer has always been a rewarding but challenging area to work in, but this must be the most challenging time I have ever experienced,” she said.
Jo Catlin, assistant director of organisational development at NWAngliaFT and mastermind of the trust’s Wobble Rooms, welcomed spaces where staff can “share their worries…say it out loud, cry a little, talk it through or just sit quietly, whatever feels right for them”.
She added: “They remove the stigma of seeking support and help during this time.”
To donate to Macmillan Cancer Support, visit www.macmillan.org.uk/emergency or call 0300 1000 200.
INFO: If you have concerns for yourself or another person, there is help out there.
MIND - call: 0300123 3393 or emai: email@example.com; The Samaritans on: 116123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also lots of information at: www.mentalhealth.org.uk.