We spoke to Hazel Santiago who is one of our candidates working as a frontline nurse at one of our Southern NHS Trusts. Hazel is originally from the Philippines and has been working here since last year. Here we get a sense of what has changed since the pandemic started:
How has work changed since the lockdown?
Where I’m working, it’s been different in terms of settings, routines and protocols. The hospital made most of the available units/beds ready for patients with Covid-19 infection. Nurses working on different units were utilized on these wards and non-Covid patients were advised not to stay in hospital unnecessarily to avoid contracting it. In addition, many health workers were off self-isolating, which reduced staff numbers significantly. Overall, health workers are expected to be flexible with wherever they’re allocated within the hospital, which has added to the stress and anxiety for all staff, but we’re coping.
Are patients treating you differently? If so, in what way?
Some patients treat us differently nowadays especially those who that ill with Covid infection, they have been much more appreciative. Families and relatives of our patients are more grateful for the hard work we put into our daily jobs, taking care of their sick family member. They have been very expressive in words and deeds. They’ve been sending us thank you cards/letters, food and some essential stuffs for the whole staff in the unit/ward. Perhaps they now understand how difficult our job is for frontline workers.
Do you participate in clap for carers?
Yes. I do participate in the clap for carers every Thursdays at 8pm. Wherever I am, I stop and clap. It is one way of showing appreciation for health workers (NHS or Private) and the job that they do during this pandemic. It is a tough job and I believe they deserve to be appreciated.
How does #clapforcarers make you feel?
As an NHS health worker, I feel so overwhelmed every time people clap especially seeing little children do it, it gives me goose bumps every time. I feel so loved and well-appreciated.
How are patients demonstrating their thanks to you?
Patients demonstrate their thanks by simply saying ‘Thank You’ every time we attend to their needs. For those patients who cannot express verbally, they show us through their actions by trying to be independent as much as possible so they will not be a nuisance to us because they can see how busy we are with other patients as well. They know how we struggle in wearing our PPEs each time we enter into their individual rooms which takes us 3-4 minutes to put on and 2-3 minutes to take off just to respond to them. They became much more patient as they saw this.
What do your family back home think of you serving on the front line in the UK right now?
As a foreign health worker, my family worry so much especially during this pandemic. They fear that I might be infected each time I go to work and worry that they are not here with me to look after my well-being. At the same time, my family are so proud of me, seeing that I work very hard to care and serve my patients despite risking my own health just to help others in a foreign land.
What is morale like in the hospital now?
It’s difficult. Each individual must know how to appreciate health workers even the young and simple things that they do for others because these people are the ones who takes care of everyone’s health and well-being especially during this time. All health workers/frontliners deserve to be respected. No one risks their own health life like health workers do. So, we must learn how to be grateful and that helps morale.
What motivates you in your job?
My family motivates me to work hard, so I can provide for their needs especially my children, to give them a good education, health and the best future that I can. I am looking forward to being reunited with them at some point soon. Of course, seeing my patients get well and being discharged from hospital is the best feeling when I’m at work. I am motivated that I can see myself healthy and alive and able to work for my family and others.