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Nurses taking on role of patients’ families amid visitor curbs

Compensating for restrictions is one of the biggest struggles of COVID-19, seminar hears
Picture shows a nurse sitting at a patient's bedside and holding their hand

Compensating for visitor restrictions is among the biggest struggles of COVID-19 pandemic, seminar hears

Nurses have taken on the role of patients families during the COVID-19 crisis, an experienced nurse has said.

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust haematology matron Aly Foyle made the comment at the RCNis Cancer Nursing Practice webina r on 1 December, when discussing the pressures staff were facing.

Phenomenal impact on emotional well-being of staff

Ms Foyle, who has more than 30 years experience in nursing, said stepping in for patients families due to visiting restrictions had created one of the biggest emotional impacts of the pandemic for staff.

No longer do we have the relatives

Compensating for visitor restrictions is among the biggest struggles of COVID-19 pandemic, seminar hears

Picture shows a nurse sitting at a patient's bedside and holding their hand
Picture: iStock

Nurses have taken on the role of patients’ families during the COVID-19 crisis, an experienced nurse has said.

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust haematology matron Aly Foyle made the comment at the RCNi’s Cancer Nursing Practice webinar on 1 December, when discussing the pressures staff were facing.

‘Phenomenal impact’ on emotional well-being of staff

Ms Foyle, who has more than 30 years’ experience in nursing, said stepping in for patients’ families due to visiting restrictions had created one of the biggest emotional impacts of the pandemic for staff.

‘No longer do we have the relatives coming in and being the support mechanism for our patients, so we have to fill that gap,’ she said. ‘The impact that has on staff emotional well-being is actually quite phenomenal.’

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust haematology matron Aly Foyle
Aly Foyle

Adding to this pressure, nurses were also having to deal with relatives unable to see their loved ones, she said. ‘You are dealing with very upset, very angry relatives. They want to be there, they need to be there and we can’t allow them in.’

Comparing the first and second COVID-19 waves, Ms Foyle said that when the pandemic started nurses approached it with adrenaline flowing.

‘If you think about when a crash bell goes off, as nurses our urge is to run towards that problem straight away to help, to be heroic. You want to be part of it and surge forward to help, that’s what we do.’

In the second wave the adrenaline ran dry

But in the throes of the second wave the adrenaline had run dry, she said. ‘It didn’t come with that same level of adrenaline, it seemed to be much more exhaustion and people felt a little disillusioned,’ she said.

Referencing the 6Cs of nursing, Ms Foyle said nurses needed to have the courage to seek help if needed.

‘If you are struggling, if you find it’s difficult, you need to know there is no shame in saying that, and it takes courage for you to be able to do so.’


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RCNi Cancer Nursing Practice webinar


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