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Health workers experiencing increased levels of stress due to COVID-19, research reveals

Health workers experiencing increased levels of st
Photo: Health workers experiencing increased levels of stress due to COVID-19, research....
Independent aged care and disability support workers have experienced increased stress levels while working during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research reveals.

The increase in stress is caused by financial strain, along with concern around contracting, or passing on, the virus to clients, according to Careseekers’ national survey of independent aged care and disability support workers. 

The survey was completed by 300 independent workers from across the country, with 68 per cent reporting increased levels of stress, a finding CEO Marissa Sandler said wasn’t surprising.

“Given that aged care and disability workers have been frontline, essential workers during the COVID pandemic, the results were not surprising,” she said.

“Workers' potential exposure to COVID is high which is very stressful. For example, if providing personal care, close physical contact with the person they are supporting may be unavoidable.
“Further, they may be supporting a number of clients and concerned about exposure to multiple people, or getting infected and passing COVID on to vulnerable members of the community.”

Ms Sandler said it was was encouraging to see how vigilant workers were around their health during COVID-19.

“Close to one-third of the workers we surveyed have had a COVID test, and 95 per cent said they would not go to work if they were not feeling well. The vast majority were using PPE when working.”

It’s widely accepted that long term stress can be detrimental to mental health, potentially leading to depression and anxiety.

Interestingly though, despite increased levels of stress reported by health workers, the survey also revealed that most felt fortunate to be employed at all, and proud to be providing essential services to the community during difficult times.

“This sense of purpose may have countered the negative impact of the stress on their mental health.”

Ms Sandler said there were a number of practical steps workers could take to protect their mental health during COVID-19, including:

  • Get informed - workers should remain well informed around COVID-19 and all Government guidelines. Having credible information and doing the COVID infection control training makes it easier to make good decisions in stressful times. 
     
  • Use PPE - anxiety in potentially risky situations is lessened if workers are physically protected by wearing gloves, masks and other relevant PPE.
     
  • Keep your immune system strong- rest, eat well, drink lots of water. Good physical health can often improve one's mental health.
     
“Independent aged care and disability support workers in the community recognise they are working with some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Ms Sandler said. “They are taking every precaution to make sure that they are free of COVID-19 while delivering essential services to the community.”

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.