Jessica donned in PPE during the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne (Image:Supplied)
Welcome to the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) Life in lockdown NurseClick series where we share the personal stories of the nurses protecting Australians during the second wave of COVID-19 in Victoria.
“I live in regional Melbourne and travel into metro Melbourne for work and that process feels militant at the moment because there are border checkpoints,” Jessica says.
“The experience depends on where you are and who you are with. The supermarket feels dangerous; people aren’t abiding by the rules. Overall, the general mood is a mixture of defeat and anxiety.”
As a Clinical Nurse Educator, Jessica’s current role focuses on ensuring frontline staff are trained and equipped to manage the challenges associated with a surge in COVID-19 patients.
“Preparing everybody for this onslaught, it’s like a battle,” she adds. “We put our families health and well-being on the line when we come into work. In education I feel we are on the second line; we are here to support the organisation. Some days you feel like you are going into battle for the community and other days it is scary.”
The return of tougher lockdown restrictions in Melbourne has come with its own set of challenges.
“It was looking up for a while that the borders might open and we might be able to relax some of the restrictions, but then everything fell back,” Jessica says.
“The main change at work was that wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is now mandatory for all staff — from clinical to administration. However, the biggest impact with the new restrictions coming in was a palpable feeling of decreased morale. Holidays, leave and events have all been cancelled and it has been difficult trying to support staff from an education point of view and keep their spirits up.”
To help manage this, Jessica’s workplace at Western Health has been very accommodating to prioritize the health and well-being of the staff during these difficult times.
“We have a health and well-being centre, it’s an area where there are plants and music and you can sit in a meditation room. We also have access to social workers and psychologists and a large space where we can eat food in a socially distanced way.”
“Personally, I have been dealing with the situation one day at a time. I had plans to go to the snow, Queensland and overseas at the end of the year but that’s not happening. I don’t want to think about what may or may not happen. I try and keep a routine; gyms are closed but I exercise at home and get outside when I can, which I think is really important.”
To conclude, Jessica shares a heartwarming story which embodies the amazing generosity the wider community has shown health care workers throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a Facebook Group called Adopt a Health Care Worker,” she says.
One of my colleagues joined it and put me in touch with a woman who lives in my town and she has made an effort to contact me every few days since the start of the pandemic to check-in to see how I’m going. Every now and again she cooks food and drops it off at my house which is lovely. I don’t know this woman and we haven’t met in person, but it has been a really nice act of community support.”