Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Saturday, February 20 report during this twelfth month of COVID-19 in Ontario. You can find earlier update reports here, including thematic pieces in Doris’ COVID-19 Blog. And, for the many resources RNAO offers on COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 Portal where you will also find RNAO media hits and releases on the pandemic here. Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC can be found here. As always, feel free to share this report and links with anyone interested. Scroll down for information on several webinars and a survey that ends today.
RNAO hears about COVID-19: A heart-to-heart dialogue for nurses
RNAO’s bi-weekly open forums serve as a heart-to-heart dialogue for nurses looking to share their experiences and challenges during this pandemic. I thank Victoria Alarcon, Communications Specialist at RNAO, for writing the following synopsis of our webinar series.
For an Ontario retired nurse, COVID-19 has affected her in many ways. “(I feel) guilty about not jumping back into the frontlines and not having the stamina for it.”
Another nurse shared her frustration with the pandemic: “What I’ve found difficult with COVID-19 on my mental health is that, especially in the beginning… (it was) all everyone talked about (on the radio, TV, and social media)… My brain needed a break from all the COVID talk.”
These nurses are not alone in how they feel as more than 180 participants have joined RNAO for its bi-weekly open forums to talk about how they are feeling during COVID-19. The open forum series entitled Continuing the conversation – an open forum for nurses to share how they’re feeling during COVID-19 provides nurses across Ontario – especially those working on the frontlines – an opportunity to talk about how the pandemic is affecting their mental health and well-being at this challenging time.
Coordinated by RNAO’s Open Forum Planning Committee – Debra Lefebrvre, mental wellbeing specialist; Sara Fung and Amie Archibald-Varley, co-hosts of Gritty Nurse Podcast; and Breanna Martin and Maija Solo, co-hosts of What’s Beeping? A nursing podcast – the forums come after the passing of a young RN named Stefanie Van Nguyen who brought to light just how important mental health is for nurses and other health-care professionals during the pandemic.
For a long time, RNAO has advocated for mental health resources for nurses and in January 2019 launched with other health-care organizations the Nurses’ Health Program to help address the mental health needs of nurses. In addition, since the beginning of the pandemic, RNAO initiated the #TogetherWeCanDoIt campaign and created a COVID-19 portal to provide support for health providers and other essential services who are tackling COVID-19. Now in the 12th month of the pandemic, RNAO has launched an open forum series as an outlet for nurses to feel camaraderie and heart-to-heart support.
“These open forums are a conversation about the heart and ensuring we are there for one another and… for others who have not been able to join the conversation that we reach out to them,” said RNAO CEO, Doris Grinspun. “We want to make sure no one feels alone in this long journey that we are all going through together.”
On Feb. 3 for the first open forum, nurses from different sectors and regions shared their experiences over the last few months, sharing their grief over multiple deaths, the stress and fatigue from long shifts and their frustration about their inability to speak out to media. “Nursing is political. There are so many of us with a collective voice,” said Archibald-Varley, co-host of the Gritty Nurse Podcast. “There’s a lot of concerns, but we have to be political and have to speak up about the issues that mean the most to us.” Grinspun added that “life is political” and that we can either sit on the sidelines and not complain or participate in the process and shape it.
During the forum, several nurses also gave tips and resources for mental health, sharing the different ways they are combating stress and burnout. One nurse shared that she has been taking Zoom painting lessons while another talked about dedicating time to weight lifting and pets.
Continuing the conversation on Feb. 17, Grinspun moderated the second open forum which focused on the topics that nurses had highlighted in the first one: dealing with multiple losses, learning to let go (time out from COVID), taking care of yourself and organizational support for well-being.
Participants were split into breakout rooms and had a chance to speak with one another about their experiences relevant to the four topics. In one breakout room, a nurse shared how she was able to overcome the loss of her position in the hospital and open her own practice as an RN psychotherapist. Through this new position, she has been able to help clients through the challenges of the pandemic and be inspired by them. “The resilience that I see from my clients is amazing and gives me strength.”
For another nurse, she shared how working in the hospital and seeing her patients unable to receive visits from their essential care givers was saddening. “I see tremendous sadness and despair and those individuals share their losses with me. For me, that is a big challenge.”
On the topic of learning to let go, nurses shared how they are balancing their lives despite the impact the pandemic is having on everyone. “With this whole COVID thing, it’s better to just turn it all off and take a break from it,” shared one nurse who limits her time talking about COVID-19 with her family and colleagues. Another suggested turning off the news and spending time with family to get a break from reality.
When it came to the topic of self-care, many shared how it was important to spend time meditating and finding a way to say no. “I’m on call so often, it’s just a matter of saying no sometimes.”
Others mentioned strategies such as meditation, boxed breathing, singing a song, or reading funny jokes and positive messages. “It can be a mantra (or) some positive message you can keep in mind for the day.”
For organizational support, nurses said one of the most helpful ways to support staff is by giving them the ability to vent and freely talk about their frustrations. “Giving staff the ability to vent is a huge need.” Others noted that their organization has led the way by providing yoga classes, nutritional classes or mental-health related webinars to help with emotional and well-being support.
Despite the many challenges COVID-19 has brought, a majority of participants shared at the end that these forums have become a supportive environment for them to talk about their concerns and thoughts. Many shared they look forward to attending another one. “Let’s continue to hold hearts and hands and learn together how we can support one another,” said Grinspun.
Are you struggling with substance use and/or mental illness?
On Jan. 29, 2019, RNAO along with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO) launched the Nurses’ Health Program to help support nurses experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorders. The program is a voluntary, bilingual and confidential program that offers nurses access to resources, a dedicated case manager, comprehensive assessment, an individualized support and treatment plan, and monitoring. It is available to all nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered practical nurses practising in Ontario. The program is modelled on similar ones used by other regulated health professions across the province. To learn more about the program, please see online.
For more mental health resources, please see RNAO’s webpage dedicated to psychosocial support during the pandemic.
RNAO work and well-being survey
The survey deadline has been extended to 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 22, 2021.
In an effort to understand the impact of COVID-19 on your work and well-being and the best ways we can continue to support you and Ontario’s nursing community, RNAO has created a short survey. If you are an RN, NP or nursing student in Ontario, please complete this 15-minute survey. Your participation will allow RNAO to better understand how this pandemic has changed your work, your attitude to work and your future in nursing, and inform our policy and advocacy now and into the future. It will also allow us to capture trends and themes across health-care sectors and settings that may inform our "Join the Conversation" open forum series for nurses to share how they are feeling and coping during COVID-19.
All responses will remain anonymous and your privacy protected.
We thank you in advance for sharing your experiences and views with us at your earliest convenience.
Go to the survey here.
POLICY UPDATES FOR ALL TO ACT ON & MUST JOIN EVENTS – OPEN TO ALL
Action alert: What’s the plan, premier?
here and make your voice heard!
Copies are automatically sent to the following:
Nurses in Ontario continue to battle an unprecedented public health crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite you to join LAP lawyer Jane Letton and LAP Administrator Mara Haase, as they discuss legal issues in nursing practice related to COVID-19.
During this presentation, participants will learn about:
To register go here.
Register for February 25, virtual Queen’s Park Day – open only to RNAO members
Registration is open for Queen's Park Day on Thursday, February 25, 3:30 to 7:30 pm. The virtual event will feature remarks by Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton, Official opposition and NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca, and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.
MOH EOC Situational Report
We are posting each day the Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC at RNAO’s website. That way, you can access the Ministry’s guidance at any time.
For a more detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can always go here.
Here is a segment from the Situation Report #370 for February 19 (no report on February 20):
Staying in touch
Keeping in touch is now more important than ever. Feeling that you are part of a community and that we have your back will help you get through this challenging time. We are also eager to hear from you how we can best support you. Send to us your questions, comments, and challenges. Feel free to also recommend ideas for future webinars. Send these to me at email@example.com and copy my executive assistant, Peta-Gay (PG) Batten email: firstname.lastname@example.org. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Thank you all for being there for our communities – everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger and more resilient. These continue to be tough times and we have to reach out to one another in solidarity! Our government, the public and indeed all of us as health professionals – must also keep focused. While the vaccine is hugely important, the immediate target is fighting the spread of the virus to preserve lives. To everyone and most especially our colleagues working in the front lines here at home and in countries around the world hit hard by evil COVID-19 – THANK YOU, and please take care of yourselves and know that RNAO always stand by you!
As we have said before, the silver lining of COVID-19: Coming together and working as one people – for the good of all!
Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, FCAN, O.ONT
RECENT BLOG ITEMS:
18 Feb - Anti-Black racism and discrimination in nursing: The power of mentorship in nursing education – go here
13 Feb - RNAO’s letter to the premier on the vaccine rollout and the current context – go here
6 Feb - Use community care providers to ramp up vaccinations! – go here
6 Feb - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The January report – go here
30 Jan - The PrOTCT plan for nurses: Counseling vaccine hesitant patients & colleagues – go here
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23 Jan - Mitigating the spread in Toronto shelter settings – go here
23 Jan - Home care nurses are #ReadyToVaccinate – go here
23 Jan - Hurtful comments about law enforcement – go here
15 Jan - The escalating catastrophe of the COVID-19 second wave in Ontario – go here
15 Jan - Progress in vaccine distribution: Updates, issues and concerns – go here
8 Jan - RNAO raises its voice in the media: Media coverage in December 2020 – go here
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8 Jan - RNCareers: Help during the holidays and help for next phases of this pandemic – go here
29 Dec - Public health nurses in schools – go here
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18 Dec - Providing compassionate nursing care in an age of artificial intelligence – go here
18 Dec - RNAO continues to express grave concern regarding the second wave – go here
18 Dec - Long-term care staffing plan lacks urgency and legislated action – go here
11 Dec - RNAO gravely concerned about the second pandemic wave – go here
11 Dec - Health organizations plead for Ontarians to celebrate holiday season safely – go here
4 Dec - Continuing the conversation: Mobilizing collective action for LTC reform – go here
4 Dec - Nurses urge dedicated funding for infection prevention and control in LTC – go here
27 Nov - RNAO, once again, plays major role in the media during November – go here
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20 Nov - Government’s measures too late and insufficient; calling for a COVID-Zero strategy – go here
13 Nov - Mobilizing collective action for long-term care reform in Canada – go here
13 Nov - RNAO’s media conference to address the crisis in long-term care – go here
6 Nov - Fall 2020 provincial budget once again leaves vulnerable populations to fend for themselves – go here
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30 Oct - 2S-LGBTQ+ Seniors: Our Existence is Our Resistance! – go here
23 Oct - Responding to the second wave of COVID-19: RNAO continues to speak out – go here
16 Oct - RNAO advocates for national long-term care standards in Canada – go here
16 Oct - Reta’s Story (a contribution of Judy Smith, Reta’s daughter-in-law) – go here
9 Oct - RNAO relieved that Premier Ford engages late, but essential, action – go here
9 Oct - Patient-centred-care – the dream and the reality – go here
2 Oct - RNAO urges stricter measures to combat rapidly rising number of COVID-19 infections – go here
25 Sept - Nurses say throne speech advances A Just Recovery for All – go here
18 Sept - Is Your Hospital Using Blood Wisely? – go here
18 Sept - RNAO calls to Delay Action on CNO Council Decision to Expand RPN Scope – go here
11 Sept - International Overdose Awareness Day: Statement from RNAO – go here
11 Sept - RNAO joins global movement: A Just Recovery for All – go here
We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. I invite you to take a look.
Ontario’s health provider website is updated regularly with useful resources.
Ontario’s public website on the COVID-19 is there to inform the general public – encourage your family and friends to access this public website. The WHO has provided an excellent link for you to share with members of the public here.
Please promote the use of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool: It also has a guide where to seek care, if necessary. Its use will provide the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. Data will inform Ontario's ongoing response to keep individuals and families safe.
Health Canada's website provides the best information capturing all of Canada. It contains an outbreak update, Canada's response to the virus, travel advice, symptoms and treatment, and resources for health professionals.
You can find up-to-date global numbers in Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
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