Opinion

New ways of working

18 March 2022

A health visitor reveals how she coped and thrived while in post (and shielding) during the pandemic.

I am a 63-year-old health visitor living in West Sussex and I have remained in my post throughout the pandemic. I worked from home for much of 2020 and into the autumn of 2021 as part of the shielding population. The positives from this were that I had time to reflect and plan my work far more, without the daily stresses that we all face driving to see different families and trying not to run late with visits.

My contact with families underwent a huge change, from being face to face with people to – for the first time in 34 years – sitting in front of a computer screen. Although this has removed me from families’ homes, it also came with the advantage of using my time to discuss emotional issues in more depth with families.

One of my successes has been the ability to give far more time to breastfeeding mothers and to help with feeding issues. A great deal more video or phone contact has been possible and just to offer a call can be very reassuring – a mother or father can feel that someone has remembered them.

Before the pandemic, our team was a busy, vibrant hive of up to 15 workers, all in quite a small office. Much laughter, tears, upsets and happy times were shared. Suddenly, though, I was at home, along with my partner and grown-up son, with no colleagues to share worries or uncertainties with.

However, I am nearing retirement, so my energy levels are not quite as high as they were and being at home a lot more has been comfortable, especially on cold, rainy days.

It did take time to adapt, and I still had an urge to offer home visits, but I learned ways of digesting information online and via email. I reduced my stress levels, felt calmer and greatly enjoyed keeping in contact with colleagues. Now restrictions are easing, coffee slots are go!

The pandemic offered the chance to remember that we are all human. It has given me time to work hard and give my best to families, and to think through all the doubts we share as practitioners.

It has also reminded me why I love my job – if I was starting all over again, I think I would still bring all the enthusiasm I came with when I first started training in 1986.

Fran Griffin, health visitor, West Sussex [submitted February 2022]

Image credit | Shutterstock

 

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