SELF-CARE FOR DOCTORS DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Please find below personal health advice only for doctors and medical students. QDHP cannot provide clinical advice regarding COVID-19. Queenslanders who require health advice or information while in quarantine or self-isolation should continue to call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or visit the Queensland Health website. Alternatively, you can call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
Psychological responses of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
A downloadable resource by Margie Stuchbery with thanks to Dr Karen Gaunson, Dr Kym Jenkins & Prof Brett McDermot
A guide for leaders and managers of healthcare services who will need to consider the wellbeing needs of all healthcare staff (clinical and non-clinical) as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. It offers practical recommendations for how to respond at individual, management and organisational level involving the appropriate utilisation of expertise within their practitioner psychologist and mental health professionals and anticipates the psychological reactions over time, and what people may need to recovery psychologically from this.
- STOP, BREATHE, then THINK – slowing your breathing slows the stress cycle and re-engages your frontal lobes – then you can think.
- Seek information updates as specific times once or twice a day. Avoid sudden, near-constant streaming of news reports. This can cause anyone to feel worried. Choose sites where you can get the facts e.g. health.gov.au
- Beware dramatic language that might panic your colleagues.
- Advice on how to transition to home – perhaps you can do a ‘cartoon’ again…
Be prepared for issues that may arise, then some examples:
- Moral distress as healthcare is rationed.
- Exhaustion can creep up on you when you are running on adrenaline.
- Sometimes our processing of family and other home issues may slow our processing of the health information as the concepts merge together – be prepared that this may happen and recognise when it is.
- Proactively manage both your physical and your psychological health to ensure you can maximise your function.
- Promote peer support – Senior staff should model this approach.
- It’s okay to say you are not okay – Senior staff should model this approach.
- Don’t forget the basics – food, sleep, breaks.
- Don’t bring your work home – not the germs not the stress – self-reflection can help us determine how best to manage these boundaries.
Click on the heading to be taken to the ICS page for more information.
Self-Care Advice from Doctors Health South Australia
SELF-CARE FOR DOCTORS IN A COVID WORLD – Five Principles
- Optimise your immune system by avoiding fatigue and sleep deprivation, alcohol and smoking.
- Come to work fully rested and adequately hydrated.
- Ensure your diet has plenty of fruit and vegetables and add a supplement of oral vitamin C (250mg) and zinc (25mg) on a daily basis. Eat modest amounts of really good food.
- Walk, exercise to around 2.5 hours each week. Don’t overdo it and avoid it late in the evening.
- Maintain your non-medical interests and pursuits when away from work. These are invigorating.
- PPE is good for you. Doctors work in risky work environments. Use PPE.
- Aim for best-practice at work – frequent hand washing and make full use of gloves and masks.
- Insist on good signage and staff training at work to protect your key personnel at work.
- Carry disposable gloves to wear when not at work such as when using public transport, shopping or public bathroom facilities. Avoid sick people when not at work.
- Avoid stress emanating from COVID news overload and excessive exposure to early morning and late evening news.
- Ensure you are fully immunised against influenza.
- Remain well-informed, using a reliable single source of information
- Maintain a calm and consistently positive manner, whilst leading by example with hand washing and using PPE.
- Avoid endorsing unqualified sources of COVID information.
- Do not go to work if unwell. Support colleagues who are unwell and are not at work.
- Encourage your colleagues to consistently aim for best practice.
- Role model for others, especially staff, students and patients.
- Remind all staff and colleagues at every opportunity of the standard expected.
Pathway of care (for yourself or a colleague)
- Seek the formal care from your own GP where possible. We encourage this strongly.
Read more here: http://doctorshealthsa.com.au/covid19
For General Practitioners
During events such as the current coronavirus situation, additional pressure may be placed on GPs and practice staff as frontline workers through increased patient attendance to the practice, responding to fear and anxiety amidst the community and staying up to date as the situation evolves.
It is important during such times that GPs and practice staff take time to care for themselves and take the opportunity to debrief with colleagues.
If you require additional support, services are available, specifically developed for doctors.
Further services and resources can be found in the RACGP fact sheet Self-care and mental health resources for general practitioners
RACGP GP Support Program
Should you need support, don’t hesitate to contact the RACGP GP Support Program. This is a free and confidential psychological support service available to all members, delivered by LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell. Access the service by calling 1300 361 008 (24 hours/7 days).
Australian Medical Association
If you are not based in QLD you can also access support via the DRS4DRS website and the doctors’ health advisory service in your local state/territory (Contact details below):
Queensland Doctors’ Health Programme 07 3833 4352
Doctors’ Health South Australia 08 8232 1250
Doctors’ Health Advisory Service Western Australia 08 9321 3098
Victorian Doctors’ Health Program 03 9280 8712 (Tasmanian Doctors and medical students please call: 1800 991 997
Doctors’ Health Advisory Service for NSW & ACT 02 9437 6552
Doctors’ Health Northern Territory 08 8366 0250
Government Clinical Advice
Queensland Government clinician advice which can be found here:
If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues, Head to Health provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/covid-19