Just some of the angels from the NHCS PSP team (L-R): Samantha Ng, Cardiac Physiotherapy Services; Nurse Manager Tan Suan Choo, Cardiac Rehabilitation; Lay Sock Yee, Operations & Management of Information Performance; Deputy Director of Nursing Kwek Koon Roan, Nursing; Dr Mohammad Bin Idu Jion, Cardiology; Dr Laura Chan, Cardiology, Senior Nurse Manager Yeoh Lee Shien, CTICU; Nurse Educator Anuradha D/O Ramasamy, Nursing Development Unit; Vasantha D/O Gopala, Quality Assurance & Risk Management; Nurse Clinician Yang Ruiqin, Ward 56; and Tan Boon Cheng, Medical Social Services.

“The fear and uncertainty for their families’ well-being in China weighed heavily on our staff,” shared Tan Boon Cheng, Master Medical Social Worker, on some of the issues faced by our staff in light of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.

Boon Cheng, a committee member of NHCS Peer Support Programme (PSP) and coordinator for the cluster PSP for NHCS, shared that the programme was established to provide support for colleagues experiencing emotional distress stemming from work-related issues or of a personal circumstance. More importantly, it offers not only a network of trained but also friendly peer supporters (*just like you and me!) in each institution.  

While there are existing staff counselling programmes and resiliency building courses for mental wellness, Boon Cheng emphasised nothing beats having a staff or peer caring and looking out for one another, “Our supervisor is usually the first person to turn to in when there are problems, so the supervisor will ‘naturally’ become the peer supporter in the workplace. However, there may be times when a staff may require someone beyond the supervisor to talk to. Having peer supporters create opportunities to look out and care for those in need before the staff seeks professional help.”

The PSP is part of a newly formed SingHealth Staff Care Centre (S2C2) under the larger staff health framework to take care of staff health and well-being. The PSP practices strict confidentiality of staff identity so staff can have peace of mind when approaching any of the peer supporters.

COVID-19: Angels all ready to help
In light of the potential stress and increased workload due to the COVID-19 situation, the NHCS PSP team is all geared up to support our colleagues, “We have activated our peer supporters and we are here for our staff – if you need someone to talk to.”

Here are some self-care and stress-busting tips from the NHCS PSP team:

Physical activity increases your body’s production of endorphin, a feel-good hormone which promotes a sense of well-being. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running, per week. Too busy to keep up with a fixed schedule? The good news is that any form of exercise or movement can reduce stress – what’s important is to do something which you enjoy and the likelihood of you committing to it will be higher.

Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. A good night’s sleep recharges you and allows you to take on the day’s stress. Conversely, according to the American Physiological Association, when you are tired, your memory, judgment and mood are affected, leading to increased stress levels. Some tips to better sleep include:
  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evening (i.e. put your phone and tablet away)
  • Refrain from caffeine consumption late in the day
  • Create a comfortable bedroom environment 
Take on a hobby or two
Do something you enjoy to unwind. It can range from gardening to knitting, or art, in which case, the NHCS PSP team recommends making your very own stress ball. If you had missed the popular activity at the ‘De-stress Zone’ at the last Service Quality carnival, it appears that the very act of making your own stress buster, can prove to be a dopamine booster. 

Here is the step-by-step guide to make your own stress ball:
  1. Fit a funnel into the neck of your balloon
  2. Fill the balloon with your desired choice of filling (e.g. flour, green beans, etc.)
  3. Secure the balloon
  4. Decorate and you’re done!
Cheerful takeaways at the stress ball DIY booth at the Service Quality Carnival 2019.