Healthcare Crisis: 6 things you can do right now for better health and better healthcare
Healthcare workers are struggling with exhaustion, frustration, distress, vicarious trauma, moral injury, anxiety, depression and burnout. Recent news of doctor suicides is totally heartbreaking. There is a direct relationship between the health of doctors and the health outcomes of patients. Doctors who are unwell or fatigued are compromised and make more errors.
Psychologist Sharee Johnson coaches doctors and says “The stress and pressure currently on medical staff is unprecedented. There is no real end in sight in terms of patient needs. Many of our doctors, nurses, paramedics, mental health professionals and supporting staff are more fatigued than they have ever been after 30 months of pandemic.”
According to Johnson unrelenting pressure and uncertainty have left many doctors bereft, traumatised, suffering from moral injury. “There is just no relief for our healthcare workers” she says. One in four primary healthcare nurses plans to quit their job according to an Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association survey*. This is on top of a pre-pandemic projected shortage of nurses by 2030 in the order of 123,000.** “Every member of the community needs to shift their expectation of healthcare” according to Johnson.
While we need government and policy makers to reform healthcare quickly, every one of us can help mitigate the crisis in healthcare in the immediate term.
If you are unwell your GP and local hospital will take care of you, you should not delay seeking advice and treatment.
For those of us who are well, prevention is always better than a cure. Personal responsibility and a connected, caring community are key to ongoing wellbeing.
Here are 6 things you can do right now for better health and better healthcare:
1. Take care of yourself first – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Your body is extraordinary at healing if you give it the right ingredients. Stop undermining it and put your own oxygen mask on first in routine ways every day.
- sleep 7-9 hours every 24 hours, rest is a vital part of nature’s cycles.
- drink 6-8 glasses of water every 24 hours
- eat whole foods, reduce your processed food consumption as much as you can
- move your body twice as much as you have recently, every day. In a fortnight increase it some more
- pause mindfully and breath intentionally, extending your exhalation several times a day
- increase the amount of time you spend with the people you love and care about
2. Decide to contribute to the greater good. Wear a mask indoors during Winter and make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. Practice hand hygiene and stay home if you are unwell.
3. Ask for help and tell people clearly what you need, especially if you are lonely. People want to help you. We have evolved to live in social groups looking after one another. We are hardwired for compassion.
4. Be kind to each other and to healthcare workers every time you seek healthcare. The person helping you is doing the very best they can, under very trying circumstances. We cannot afford to keep losing our healthcare workers, they take years to train!
5. Recognise that we have excellent access to healthcare in Australia. If you want your loved ones to be well cared for, accept and advocate for better wages for frontline staff – especially nurses and personal care attendants.
6. Be an active partner in our healthcare system, lobby your local MP:
- Ask your Federal representative to call for a review of Medicare, raising the rebates and simplifying the codes for GPs in particular. Excellent primary care keeps us out of hospitals, promotes ongoing relationships between patient and doctor, and is embedded within our communities.
- Ask your State representatives what they are prioritising in healthcare, let them know what you need from healthcare.
True transformation often comes out of a crisis. Healthcare has needed an overhaul for a long time. It’s going to take some time and there will be pain, please play your part in helping to build a better kind of healthcare. We are responsible for our own health in the first instance and there is a great deal we can personally do to maintain great health.
This post was originally shared as a media release 17 June 2022 ‘Healthcare Crisis: 6 things you can do’.
Find out more about Sharee and her work.
Sharee’s new book The Thriving Doctor is available in all good bookstores on online.