Some Days, There Are No Silver Linings
Healthcare workers aren't giving up, but the joy in their work is greatly diminished
By Melanie Sykes, Representative and Research and Training Specialist
Working in Ontario healthcare these days is not good. I dare say, it sucks. The “Healthcare Hero” banners and signs are faded and ripped, there are no more pots banging or front-of-the-line privileges. The grind of living and working in this pandemic is taking its toll.
While members of the public complain about lockdowns, physical distancing, cancellations, and closure of activities and stores, you and your fellow healthcare members are living in hotels during outbreaks, getting nasal swab testing up to three times per week, constantly donning and doffing PPE, and mourning the loss of residents.
You are dealing with staff shortages in all classifications and working with agency staff who don’t know your residents and facilities. Legislation has suspended parts of your collective agreements, including scheduling and work deployment, and has given employers the ability to cancel leaves and vacations.
Many of you have gone months without real breaks from your work. You are under constant scrutiny from your employer, residents’ families, and members of the public.
You are scared about bringing COVID into your workplace or home. Promised wage premiums come late and are only temporary.
Healthcare workers are D-O-N-E. In all my years, I’ve never dealt with so many people at the end of their rope. The ongoing conditions they must work under are strained and cracks are appearing.
After many conversations, I have realized that the joy in your work is gone or greatly diminished. How do you have meaningful interactions with residents when you’re wearing so much PPE, are rushed to care for the residents, and have to confine residents to their rooms?
Residents can’t have their regular visitors and so difficult behaviours have increased. How do you joke and laugh and catch up with coworkers when you are limited to how many people can be in a room and must be six feet apart?
This is not an article about finding the silver lining in difficult situations or Five Ways to Bring Joy to Your Work. Sometimes, we need to acknowledge and accept that life is not great and will continue that way for some time. But acceptance is not giving up.
You and your fellow members keep showing up, day in and day out, despite everything that is going on. We still applaud and thank you for that. And we hope that some day there will be some silver linings.