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Support for health and social care staff in response to COVID-19

Many health and social care staff have been impacted directly by COVID-19, and have reported worsening mental health throughout the pandemic. Estimates from the Centre for Mental Health, used by ThriveLDN forecast that, of the half a million health and social care staff in London:

  • Over 150,000 will experience burnout, with 30% requiring access services (38,000 people)
  • Over 60,000 will experience post traumatic stress, with 25% requiring access services (17,250 people)
  • Over 200,000 will experience high psychological distress, with 25% requiring access services (56,125 people)

There has been national funding to set up mental health and wellbeing hubs to support health and social care staff, and many of London’s IAPT services have been part of the development and operation of these hubs. Information on how to access each hub is available here.

London’s Mental Health Trusts have agreed that IAPT services will accept staff for treatment even if they are not registered with a GP that is local to the service. This will be the case for the remainder of 2021 and potentially continue thereafter. Staff working in London will therefore be able to receive treatment in the London borough where they live or work.

London examples:

Haringey 

Front-line workers are prioritised, and are offered Covid-specific interventions to manage anxiety.

City & Hackney

The Homerton Covid Psychological Support (HCPS) Pathway was set up in April 2020 to support Homerton frontline NHS Staff during the COVID-19 pandemic but open to social care staff as well. The staff support model was published in the Cognitive Behaviour Therapist journal. Key findings are:

  • There has been good uptake and reported outcomes, initial evaluation will be completed before the end of the year.
  • There is a dedicated microsite for staff to self-refer and 100% of referred staff have been supported and confirmed they will recommend to other staff.
  • Improvement reported on depression and anxiety scores.
  • Psychological support is provided for individuals and bespoke workshops for individual teams such as the health visiting nurses and surgical rehabilitation team.
  • Many staff have no pre-existing mental health problems so can move quickly to recovery; cases also contribute to access figures for the service.
  • Rumination and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are the key problems staff are seeking help for.

Keeping Well staff chat platforms

North East, North Central, North West and South East London have all set up ‘Keeping Well’ staff chat platforms as part of their mental health and wellbeing hub offers. The platforms are available to all health and social care workers (including London Ambulance Service, non-clinical staff and volunteers). The platforms are staffed by Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) via a live chat from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, who can either refer staff to the self-help resources on the platform, or refer them to IAPT services. The NEL chat platform has two landing pages – one for patients and one for staff, and there’s the possibility of setting up a ‘channel’ for ethnic minority staff. [see case study]

Newham

Have worked with local acute hospital staff, offering remote workshops (non-face to face appointments make it easier for them to attend).

Hillingdon 

Developed and repurposed a communications campaign called ‘You are not alone’ sent to GP surgeries and hubs with information offering COVID-19-specific support help for staff and also extended to care homes who often have a difficult time accessing support:

Hillingdon medical poster

Hillingdon keyworker poster

Hillingdon public poster

Lewisham 

Have developed pathways for health and social care workers, which are underused. Staff often don’t want to be seen in the same borough which they live in, due to stigma and also concern regarding patient records being accessed. NB this has now been addressed due to the agreement pan-London that staff can be seen by mental health services either in the borough where they work or live.

Resources

NHS People sets out a range of support tools and apps are available for health care staff.

Further guidance and information about supporting the psychological resilience and wellbeing of staff can be found on Healthy London Partnership’s Psychological Resilience Toolkit.

GPs, dentists and health staff at Band 8d and above are able to self-refer to Practitioner Health, which provides confidential mental health services. The mental health and resilience hubs are also able to refer other staff to this service, should confidentiality be a concern.

THRIVE LDN: Keeping Well for Health and Care workers webinar series

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