Practising self-care is non-negotiable!

After working as an RN in both Acute and Aged Care settings I am well aware of the pressures of being time poor and overly focused on the list of tasks ahead of me. I now see that part of my responsibility as a leader working in a facility, is to remind staff to look after themselves.

I often have to recommend that carers take the time to use a slide sheet, lift the bed to the right height and assist a resident from a chair to standing without putting strain on their bodies. It’s the type of practice that reflects that nurses and carers are good at caring for others but often not good at caring for themselves. IMG_2054

I believe it comes down to remembering that serving another person (our patient or resident) is not of greater value than the health of our own bodies no matter what. Nor should we let work pressure affect our ability to make decisions in the moment about how to best look after ourselves – but it does.

The consequences of not taking time in the moment to self-care are costly as seen in statistics from a Survey taken in 1997:

A survey of occupational illness and injury incurred in the Victorian health service industry

Quick tips for looking after yourself during your shift for nurses and carers:

1. Stop. Take 10 seconds to assess the manual task you are about to do. Think about the ways it can be done with respect for your body.

2. Adjust the equipment to suit your height – it only takes 20 seconds to raise the bed to hip height.

3. Position your body so that it can maneuver actions smoothly using your legs and hips to prevent bending through your back.

Remember it only takes 1 minute each time you attempt a manual handling task to look after yourself and remind your colleague. That adds up to a total of 10 minutes over a 7 hour shift. You and you colleagues are worth every bit of that 10 minutes and your bodies will thank you for it!