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Psychological first aid for care home nurses

Helping care home nurses cope with the trauma of COVID-19.

Around 1.8 million people work in care homes across the UK. Growing international evidence shows that the COVID-19 virus disproportionally impacts people, both nurses and patients, living in nursing and residential care homes.

Throughout the pandemic, care home managers, nurses and assistants have been affected by increased workloads, more resident deaths, and significant negative publicity.

To respond to these circumstances, the RCN Foundation funded a project jointly undertaken by Northumbria University and the University of Highlands and Islands to evaluate the usage and efficacy of Psychological First Aid for people working in the care home sector throughout the pandemic.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) was first developed by the World Health Organisation in 2011 to support troops in Afghanistan. It is designed to help people feel safer and more hopeful in the course of carrying out duties that expose them to traumatic events.

Researchers received 388 responses to a survey about PFA from care home workers based in the UK, of which 9.5% had received training in PFA.

Those trained in PFA reported that they coped better, felt safer and more hopeful compared to staff who had not had the training. They also found it useful for increasing their self awareness, improving their relationships with others, and helping them overcome stress.

The study, ‘Uptake and Effects of Psychological First Aid Training For Healthcare Workers’ Wellbeing in Nursing Homes: A UK National Survey’ was published by the scientific journal PLOS One in November 2022.

Mental health & wellbeing repository

The pressures created by COVID-19 have had an impact on the mental wellbeing of many frontline health care staff. For anyone struggling, we have gathered together just some of the help and resources available to you in our mental health & wellbeing repository. Contact the organisations listed directly for more information.