Maintaining good practice under pressure and prioritising employee wellbeing at work
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous amount of pressure on healthcare workers around the globe with their duty of care towards patients coming before their own wellbeing at work. With staff at breaking point, how can healthcare organisations ensure employee wellbeing at work?
Working during times of uncertainty in the health profession
All employers have a responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff, no matter what role they occupy. The unprecedented nature of COVID-19, however, meant that healthcare staff were faced with treating patients and preventing the further spread of a brand-new disease, which at the beginning, they didn’t know how to treat. As the months went on, health professionals gained a better grasp of the specific symptoms of the illness, and how best to treat patients with confirmed cases. However, they are still trying to maintain best practice while working in incredibly stressful conditions with risks to their own health, and in extension, the health of their loved ones.
At the time of writing, there have been:
- 29.3M confirmed cases worldwide
- 929K deaths
- Over 7,000 deaths of healthcare workers
As the situation is constantly evolving, these numbers are changing on a daily basis and as cases start to surge again, health workers remain on the front line and are speaking out about the lack of fair pay they’ve received for their efforts. 
This feeling of being at breaking point predates the outbreak of COVID-19 however. A study by the General Medical Council in 2016 to 2017 stated that ‘the system is under pressure, and that the profession is at a ‘crunch point’ in continuing to provide safe care for patients with limited resources.’  A shortage of staff, less resources, increasing number of patients and administrative requirements were cited as factors by doctors in relation to the increasing level of pressure at work.
Maintaining wellbeing at work
While organisations are trying to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic alongside maintaining regular healthcare services, prioritising staff wellbeing is absolutely essential in getting through it. Working under pressure in these stressful conditions leaves employees vulnerable to stress, burn out and other mental health problems.
Common triggers for this include:
- Working long hours without adequate breaks
- Staff shortages
- Lack of resources
- Having to be ‘on’ all the time
- Increasing demands
Working during the COVID-19 pandemic brings its own unique stresses and anxieties, especially with the overload of news and media coverage about it - this can make it difficult to switch off and be able to relax and practice self-care outside of work. While it’s totally normal to feel worried and unsettled amongst all this uncertainty, healthcare organisations in particular need to put in place adequate support for their employees to give them the tools they need to cope.
Without this, organisations risk having increasing numbers of staff experiencing burn out and being unable to perform at work, reducing the quality of patient care and availability of much needed services.
Focus on the areas you can improve
While there are a lot of factors that we cannot control at the moment, organisations can help to promote workplace wellbeing by focusing on the things they can control. The Health and Care Professions Council has published guidance for supporting staff during COVID-19. One of the points they touch on is to ‘ensure that good quality communication and accurate information updates are provided to all staff.’ 
This is absolutely crucial to maintaining good practice and keeping things running effectively, especially in the current climate where things are constantly changing. Ensuring that your core processes are as streamlined and robust as possible cuts down on admin time and helps to keep everyone informed and engaged with what’s going on.
Having the right quality management system in place is a step in the right direction in maintaining control over what’s happening within your organisation, acting as a centralised point for important data to drive informed decisions and improve risk management in relation to COVID-19 and beyond.
The role of our software
Q-Pulse is Ideagen’s cloud-based quality management software. It centralises your compliance requirements while giving you an in depth understanding of what’s going on within your organisation at a glance. It’s designed to give you the opportunity to analyse risk in a positive way, looking at opportunities and how you can continually improve things. The software cuts out time spent on admin, allowing you to focus on the things that matter and also provides the tools to risk assess the wellbeing of your employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
Find out more about Q-Pulse Healthcare Edition and how it can help you prioritise employee wellbeing during difficult times.
 STV News, ‘Healthcare workers to demand fair pay at Glasgow protest’: https://news.stv.tv/west-central/healthcare-workers-to-demand-fair-pay-at-glasgow-protest
 General Medical Council, ‘Supporting Doctors Working Under Pressure’: https://www.gmc-uk.org/-/media/gmc-site-images/about/what-we-do-and-why/data-and-research/somep-2018/version-one---0412pm/chapter-3---final.pdf
 Health and Care Professions Council, ‘Supporting staff wellbeing during COVID-19’: https://www.hcpc-uk.org/covid-19/advice/advice-for-employers/supporting-staff-wellbeing-during-covid-19/