Care workers affected by gruelling shifts caring for Covid-19 patients have been offered courses on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by their trade union.
This week is Mental Health Awareness week and UNISON Cymru Wales has been talking about the various courses it is making available to thousands of care workers to help their mental well-being. The training is funded by the Wales Union Learning Fund, provided by Welsh government.
UNISON says care workers face a daily challenge to provide the best possible care to vulnerable people in what are often extremely challenging conditions.
The trade union says an initial lack of personal protective equipment, particularly for those working for private and non-profit care providers caused terrible anxiety and care workers are worried not enough is being done to speedily provide regular testing for staff and clients.
Gareth John, UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for training said,
“Care staff have been working under very tough conditions. Many lacked protective equipment; they see death and suffering at close quarters and they are worried they might infect their own families.
“Many care workers in the private or non-profit sectors don’t benefit from the same support and training other public service staff receive from their employers. UNISON stepped into that void, providing training very quickly and to a wide network.
“With Welsh government funding, we have been running courses for care workers on PTSD, trauma and bereavement workshops, stress resilience and mindfulness as well as Covid-19 e-learning.
“Providing knowledge and understanding allows people to deal with anxiety. Helping them develop skills means they will be more confident at dealing with difficult situations in the workplace. This shows the value of belonging to a trade union.”
Tanya Palmer, UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary said,
“The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the fantastic and essential work undertaken by the thousands of carers in Wales for what often, is very little pay.
“There is no doubt many will suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If they worked for the National Health Service, mental health support would be provided as a matter of course by their employer. This isn’t the case for many care workers.
“UNISON believes care workers should be held in equal esteem as their National Health Service colleagues. That means fair employment and training and a minimum rate of pay of £9.30 per hour so no-one suffers in-work poverty.”
Notes for editors
UNISON campaigns for greater investment in social care and has developed an Ethical Care Charter it wants all councils in Wales to adopt. The Charter would ensure dignity of care for patients and fair and decent employment standards for care staff.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 53 83 97