The Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder says health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are susceptible to severe stress that could cause long-term psychological damage.
The centre at the Royal Ottawa Hospital has teamed up with an Australian group to develop a guide for facilities including hospitals and peer-support organizations in an effort to reduce the impact on those at risk of so-called moral injury on the job.
The centre says it and the Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health prepared the guide so preventative and early intervention measures could be taken to help people caring for patients with a disease that's not fully understood.
It says entire organizations must adopt measures such as rotating staff between high- and low-stress roles, establishing policies to guide employees through ethically tough decisions and promoting a supportive culture.
The guide calls on health-care workers, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and social workers, to practise self-care through proper nutrition, exercise and social connection and seek professional help when needed.
Dr. Patrick Smith, CEO of the Canadian centre, says health-care workers are facing an extreme and unprecedented work experience while many are fearing they and their families may also become infected with COVID-19.