As a nurse midwife with 24 years of practice under my belt in three different continents, nothing should scare me, but this pandemic did. It has been an emotional rollercoaster that has blown all of my experience out of the water. It’s been an eye opener and has made me understand that no one can ever be too prepared to face disasters.
I was advised to shield and initially I didn’t want to. I felt it was unfair to my colleagues on the frontline and I have never cowered in the sight of challenges, so to be locked away was a hard pill to swallow.
I needed to divert my energy into something that would make a difference and into providing support in different ways. I made sure I continued to support my colleagues through texts, tweets and calling them daily and I also sought psychological support for them where it was needed.
Then I got an invite to a meeting with other shielders. I wanted to know what other shielders were doing; were they feeling as isolated and disconnected as I was? I also wanted to verbalise the kind of staff support I needed at home, and to discuss what I had heard from my colleagues. Finally, I wanted to know how we were going to fill a two hour virtual meeting. I was definitely not disappointed.
Reflecting through the session, it made me realise that I still have something important to offer even if I’m at home. Other shielders in the Trust are feeling it differently too, we all need to support each other and be supported.
The meeting echoed what I’ve heard from frontline staff in the past weeks: ‘I want to be heard and I want to be listened to’. This is intelligent leadership in a nut shell.
I really enjoyed the meeting, and will continue to attend, with my desire to provide psychological support for frontline staff strengthened by the support and encouragement I got from other shielding staff. They are on a journey with me and we don’t know how long it will last. Our mental health matters too and we can help each other, and support you.
A big thanks from me to all of our colleagues who give so much every day. We think of you often.
Do you know a staff member that is shielding? The meeting is held online every Monday. Please email Ferzana.Khan1@nhs.net to find out how you can attend.