BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing student Caroline Ford talks about life working with the NHS at the State Hospital, Carstairs
It is a strange and challenging time to be working in healthcare. Not only is Covid-19 having an impact on a patient’s mental health, but it is also impacting on staff’s mental health, so it is more important than ever to be kind to ourselves and one another – and that’s exactly what we are doing within the NHS.
I recently opted in to join the workforce during the pandemic and am currently in a student nurse contract at The State Hospital, Carstairs, Lanark which is one of four high secure hospitals in the UK, but the only one in Scotland, providing a national service for both Scotland and Northern Ireland.
I attended Carstairs for my elective placement, so roughly thought I would know the routine, however this has completely changed due to Covid-19. As you might expect, it’s a time of uncertainty where routines and guidance are changing with regularity. Staff bring their uniform into work in a bag and get changed before entering the ward, then get changed when they finish their shift. PPE is being worn much more often and staff have been fitted for face masks to make sure we are protected.
The hospital has created a general medical ward; this is on standby in the event of any Covid-19 positive patients requiring more focused medical or end of life care. Currently, there are no patients in isolation or showing any symptoms of Covid-19. Patients have to remain in their rooms for longer periods than normal to respect social distancing rules but they do get access to fresh air and exercise every day, and keep in touch with family and friends via the newly introduced video visiting facilities. We continue our work to evaluate the mood and mental state of our patients and have clear guidance plans in place around the need for any physical contact.
My message to anyone working in healthcare, and even to the rest of the outside world is that it is ok to have days where we feel down - but we must pick each other up and keep going. The team I am working with have been amazing at helping me settle into my new job role, showing me the ward routines and still being able to learn each day.
As the saying goes, there’s always a rainbow after every storm.