Support non covid-19 employees in limbo
The impact of Covid-19 to NHS services is clear: referrals for screening, diagnostic tests, treatment and surgery have been impacted by the pandemic and this disruption is set to continue as resources need to be focussed on intensive care and urgent referrals, be this COVID related or otherwise.
We know that the NHS is doing its very best to support as many patients as possible but that doesn’t detract from the real anxiety that many people are living with on a day-to-day basis whilst they wait for a diagnosis or the next stage of their treatment. It’s incredibly helpful when employees have a medical professional with whom they can discuss their concerns. Of course this supports their mental wellbeing too, as we know that mental health can be seriously hampered by physical ill-health.
As NHS leaders warn about a backlog in treatment resulting from the pandemic, employers are in a position to help, and this can be a lifeline for many, such as the estimated backlog of 3 million people awaiting cancer screening.
Providing access to an expert with whom the patient-in-waiting can discuss both their physical symptoms as well as any stress and anxiety caused by the delay, is of huge benefit to the employee and will also be regarded as an immensely supportive gesture from their employer too.
Support for employees can include:
- Advice about pain, symptoms and when to seek medical attention
- Mental health support during the wait for an appointment
- Practical support in sourcing medical aids that may be useful
- Arranging therapies to complement current medication or help with side-affects
- Supporting self-help relaxation techniques and information to improve quality of sleep
- Reading materials to better understand and manage the health condition
- Signposting to specialist national and local charities and support groups
- Advice about how to communicate with family, friends and employers
- Help in navigating the NHS
The wait for an appointment or treatment can be difficult to bear for anyone with an illness or a suspected illness. Well-meaning family and friends often want to provide support but this can put additional strain on relationships, which is why having tailored support from an expert and independent source is so important. It means the employee can be really honest and open about their situation and discuss potentially sensitive issues with a trusted professional who can help.
Such support is needed now more than ever to help both those who already have a diagnosis and the many who are still waiting to get one.
Now is a good time for employers to remind staff to make use of their employee benefits that include this type of support, frequently offered as part of other health and wellbeing benefits.
Christine Husbands is managing director of RedArc, a service that provides personal nurse advisers for people experiencing illness, disability, trauma or bereavement.
Christine spent the initial part of her career in financial roles and she has held several board positions in Financial Services and is a Chartered Director. During her time...