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For most of the COVID-19 outbreak, Tracy Churchill, Nurse Unit Manager at Ramsay Health Care, was on maternity leave. However, coming back to work during the outbreak was much more a shock than when she first started her career as a nurse. 

“When I came back after my leave, everything was different. We were required to wear masks and goggles, and we couldn't really see each other’s facial expressions. It was harder for people to hear us, it was very restricted”.

To Tracy, the environment felt like a deserted town. She was able to feel a strong sense of loneliness affecting her patients so much more, especially being unable to welcome visitors over to meet social distancing measures. This prompted Tracy and her team to come up with creative and thoughtful solutions to support patients who were in a much more vulnerable position than others. 

“We tried to overcome this by spending more time with our patients, especially because they were in a very vulnerable position and needed friends and families around. We would go out of our way to write a message on the whiteboard for when they would wake up, offering them cups of teas and just going above and beyond what we already do,” Tracy says.

 

She was able to feel a strong sense of loneliness affecting her patients so much more, especially being unable to welcome visitors over to meet social distancing measures. This prompted Tracy and her team to come up with creative and thoughtful solutions to support patients who were in a much more vulnerable position than others. 

Tracy and her team would help their patients set up things like phone or zoom calls to enable them to feel connected. 

Being a nurse during the pandemic, Tracy says that keeping on top of doing the right thing and putting the health of the public first was the most important for her, especially in balancing the increased risk to herself with the urgent need of her patients.

“In the past, I would’ve gone to work even if I had a slightly tickling throat. But now, even if I had any signs, I would get tested and not come to work. It’s important to exercise, eat the right thing in order to strengthen your mental health”.  

In order to build more resilience in the workplace, Tracy urges us to find hope and strength in unprecedented times like these. She calls this the “post traumatic growth”.

“We tend to think of the downside when a crisis hits, but people can find strength and something to live for and grow into; that can be positive and life changing. It depends on how we look at it and it’s all in our mindsets. Many people have found hobbies and new things that they love to do”.

Using herself as an example, Tracy shares the positivity that arose in these times that helped her become more resilient. She had gained much more contentment being able to take on new hobbies like gardening. She believes that chaotic times like these can really be seen as a big pause and reset for us in life, to reflect on what we’ve been doing and what is truly important to us.

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A strong focus early in people’s career on self-care would also contribute to a huge sense of resilience to build on and grow from when a crisis occurs. Tracy brings to light her previous department in emergency nursing where comradery and reflection is an important aspect to one’s resilience.

“My previous department in emergency nursing was a large team. But one thing that kept us together was our ability to constantly reach out to each other and ask, ‘are you ok?’. We would naturally form groups to support each other and allow time for reflection. So, I think promoting relationships at work is a huge way to improve resilience in the workplace. It’s the people around you that can offer strength”.

There are so many different areas and industries where people are feeling isolated and alone. Tracy believes that other industries could learn from the healthcare industry in the way they constantly stay connected with the team, even when they are socially distant. This would prevent anyone from feeling emotionally distant.

In order to build more resilience in the workplace, Tracy urges us to find hope and strength in unprecedented times like these. She calls this the “post traumatic growth”.

“We tend to think of the downside when a crisis hits, but people can find strength and something to live for and grow into; that can be positive and life changing. It depends on how we look at it and it’s all in our mindsets. Many people have found hobbies and new things that they love to do”.

However, despite the healthcare system being able to pull together policies and plans immediately, Tracy believes there is indeed much room for improvement. Tracy says that more cross industry- private and public collaboration in the future would contribute to influencing people to take action and understand the importance of their contribution. Tracy emphasises that such collaboration would strongly enable the healthcare industry to connect with communities in a much more efficient way, especially when we’re able to share staff and resources with a back-up plan in mind. 

To Tracy, Australians are best at looking out for each other. 

“We are so good at so many things like mateship and looking after each other, we’re a social bunch and want to be with each other but when it comes to these outbreaks, we need to take a step back”.

Thus, she asks everyone to follow instructions that are given in order to ensure the health and safety of our communities.