Updated: Apr 11
We all do it. It is an integral part of our lives: We take care of family and friends, the house we live in or the things we love, our pets and gardens. Caring for' gives satisfaction, makes you grow in life and creates value in a relationship. These are the motives that make people decide to work in 'care', I think. I admire those who feel called to care for the elderly, the needy, the sick, the injured, or problem youths... But what if that care suddenly becomes so demanding that they can't even care for themselves properly anymore?
In recent months, we have heard that the healthcare system is creaking more often. A complicated metaphor that will touch few people deeply. Yet the underlying truth is just as sad as it is human: the healthcare personnel are groaning and groaning under the pandemic's pressure. The risk of a chronic lack of medical resources and the acute shortage of care personnel brings unprecedented stress and anxiety. Worry about' prevails over 'care for'.
The crisis was felt by every care provider and throughout every institution. In the dexterity exercise that every organisation suddenly had to go through, staff's physical and mental well-being quickly became a driver of numerous initiatives: Psychologists and health coaches were deployed en masse; yoga sessions and mindfulness training were offered; breathing techniques were taught. Everyone in the care sector was gasping for breath. The Ghent network of mental health institutions set up De Zuurstoflijn (Oxigen line) to provide mental health care providers in primary care. The ZuurstofTank (Oxygen Tank) organised connecting sessions for care teams.
It is this connection that has a positive effect on care staff. The internal survey at the AZ Klina hospital in Belgium also showed this. Solidarity and collegiality are most often seen as positive in approaching the crisis. Not everyone will have been familiar with the solidarity of a care team before. But the Jerusalem Challenge by the nursing staff will undoubtedly have sent this positive team spirit into the world. In Geel, two nurses played live music at the Sint-Dimpna hospital entrance to cheer up the atmosphere. Osteopaths in Veurne offered free consultations to the staff of the nearby hospital. Students jumped in just about everywhere. The care provided.
It did not stop there. The daily clapping of hands gradually caused a movement in society. We all wanted to care for. Delhaize and Colruyt joined forces to deliver groceries to care workers' homes every week. Local traders set up a supermarket in the (closed) hospital restaurant and placed free mattresses in the institutions' quiet corners. Childcare was arranged for the staff. Various start-ups brought a do-mentality where things suddenly had to be done. Solidarity with the care sector did indeed have a positive effect.
It creaked. It groaned. People languished. Called upon to do good in times of crisis, the cry of self-care took a back seat. Caring for' left no time to care for oneself. The admiration for those who care for others brought out a Healthusiasm in each of us. We all do for 'caring for', and indeed for the ones who care.