45% of Irish nursing home staff reported PTSD symptoms during third Covid wave – Irish Medical Times

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9th December 2021
The COWORKER study seeks to identify the mental health needs of both clinical and non-clinical
Forty-five per cent of nurses experienced moderate or severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the third wave of Covid-19, new research has now revealed.
Phase one of the COWORKER study comprised of a cross-sectional anonymous survey of 390 nursing home staff working in Ireland during the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almost four in ten (39%) of respondents reported low mood, while one in seven respondents reported thinking of ending their life over the previous week, and one in 11 reported planning to end their life.
The COWORKER Nursing Home Study, led by Prof. Declan McLoughlin, Research Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin, and Consultant Psychiatrist at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, was developed to investigate the mental health impact of the pandemic on nursing home staff.
The study was a joint initiative from St Patrick’s Mental Health Services; Trinity College, Dublin; the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland; and Nursing Homes Ireland. It sought to identify the mental health needs of both clinical and non-clinical nursing home staff to help to inform appropriate responses, and provide a timely opportunity for nursing home staff to recognise if they had been experiencing mental health difficulties during the pandemic.
The high levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms found from this study are similar to those reported in nursing home staff internationally, indicating that this is a common experience globally during the pandemic.
Researchers also examined whether there were any differences in the levels of mental health difficulties between nursing home staff based on their roles with findings showing significantly more nurses were found to report low mood, while healthcare assistants reported a significantly higher degree of moral injury than non-clinical staff.
The study did not find any significant differences between professions in experiencing PTSD symptoms, indicating that non-clinical staff experienced levels of PTSD symptoms similar to nurses and healthcare assistants.
Speaking about the impact of the findings Prof. McLoughlin said: “Nursing homes, have been disproportionately affected during the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular during the first wave; staff have had to contend with high numbers of Covid-related deaths of residents; exposure to the virus; increased visiting restrictions; and disruption to routine activities in their workplaces.”
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