They are the faces of heroes. Ordinary folks, who get up, kiss their family goodbye and head off to work, just like everyone does every day, right? But in these days, many people go to work facing the very real and frightening possibility that “This job could be the death of me!”
Amid the pandemic crisis, essential front-line workers such as doctors and health care workers, staff in long term care facilities, supermarket and pharmacy staff, cleaners and delivery drivers, funeral directors and other essential services are stepping up to help their fellow Canadians. They do so even while exposing themselves to the risk of infection and the realization that even something as mundane as going to work has become “SCARY!” That is why they are heroes. And many citizens are recognizing this by horn-honking, proclaiming “Heroes work here”. Some supply free food and coffee, and many other acknowledgments of the selfless sacrifices that are being made by so many for the sake of others.
With the assistance of Dr. Bill Webster, Arbor Memorial has published a booklet about caregivers in challenging times. The guide is intended to provide some coping strategies for people on the front line. It will identify some of the challenges caregivers face, and offer some practical strategies to help others and to help ourselves.
Over 5,000 copies have been delivered to long term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals in Ottawa. Each booklet copy was placed in a cellophane sleeve to ensure that the recipient would have a sanitary personal copy.
Disasters such as health emergencies demand a massive effort in response to the psychosocial effects of catastrophic events. Caregivers give a critical contribution to their community’s recovery. It requires working long hours helping people understand and manage the many physical and emotional reactions and challenges triggered by these stressful circumstances. However, caregivers sometimes need to be reminded that such a sustained and intensive response can lead to physical and emotional wear and tear. Without conscious attention to selfcare, caregivers’ effectiveness and ultimately their health will suffer. With the pressures our front-line workers are facing at the moment, stress and all its implications seems inevitable.