COVID-19: hundreds join nurse support sessions online

Nurses coping with stress and pressures access leadership support service to get through the crisis

Dame Yvonne Moores, chair of the Florence Nightingale Foundation

Almost 1,000 nurses have signed up for free online group support sessions as part of a new UK-wide service to help members of the profession get through the COVID-19 crisis. 

The 960 participating nurses have the opportunity to share problems they are dealing with – such as a death, supporting staff morale or managing anxiety – with a peer group of six people, who then reflect on possible solutions.

The Nightingale Frontline NHS leadership support service, run by the Florence Nightingale Foundation, is facilitated by experienced senior nurse volunteers from the organisation and funded by the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

Opportunity to step back and have some external support

Foundation chair Dame Yvonne Moores said the programme was launched in April with just 20 video conferencing sessions, but to keep up with demand 60 more are being added in May and 80 in June.

‘Many nurses are getting excellent support within their trusts, but some nurses just want to step back and have some external support – it’s just taken off and all the sessions on offer are booked up,’ she said.

She said feedback from participants had been positive. As an example she cited a recently qualified nurse who had been deployed to an intensive care unit only a few months after registration and felt fragile.

‘She talked through her fear and went back really strengthened and supported,’ she said.

‘It takes a lot of courage – of course nurses need some help to keep going’

Dame Yvonne said nurses responding to the COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated immense courage, considering the challenges of sometimes being the sole support for dying patients and shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

‘It is a question of personal safety and nurses are putting themselves in danger in many situations, as we see from colleagues who have succumbed to it,’ she said.

‘It takes a lot of courage – of course they need some help to keep going on through all.’

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