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Health and Social Care Group - letter from the Chair

March 2021

Who would have thought a year on since the first cases of COVID-19 that the UK and other nations would be in lockdown, I certainly did not. Working within the health and care sector, seeing and discussing the challenges everyone faced and still face, their dedication and professionalism and most of all their togetherness. Although we have witnessed tragedy throughout this pandemic, there has been a number of positives and changes in the way services have been delivered.

There is more flexible working, with more people working from home or moved totally to home working where practicable to do so. The way services and people have adapted to the new ways of working and how as health & safety professionals we have been able to assist in facilitating these changes.

We have seen rapid changes in guidance, responding to these changes and implementing safe systems in to the workplace. Physical (social) distancing in busy care environments has certainly been challenging throughout.

The vaccine has provided a positive for all, with a glimpse of perhaps some normality or as is being said the road to the new norm, whatever that will look like. It is with a view to there being a road map to move out of lockdown and move towards the new norm, we must not lose sight of the positive control measures in place to ensure the safety of our colleagues and those who use health and care services.

2020 and the beginning of 2021 have certainly brought challenges that none of us thought we would face, it also brought about positive changes at a pace not seen in the health and care sector, with different challenges ahead and ones we know as health and safety professional will be ready to take these on.

One of the areas I am often asked about is people’s mental health and how the pandemic has impacted on people, with more remote working, dealing with a higher demands without the usual day to day human contact, those all-important unofficial comfort blankets (support network). I too often think about my mental health and wellbeing, that of my family and of course my colleagues where I work and the IOSH family.

Sometimes with health and safety being part of the overall support services to our many front line services, all too often OSH professionals don’t always think of themselves. I just wanted to sign post you to the IOSH website (Add link) where we have access to many resources, not everyone takes advantage of these, so please visit IOSH website to access these resources, and we have an excellent network through IOSH so please use it.

There are also various mental health and wellbeing tools available to assist us in helping others;

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/
https://iosh.com/resources-and-research/our-resources/mental-health/
https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/covid-19
https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/risk-assessment.htm

IOSH health and social care is a global network and we have all had varying challenges over the past 12 months, it would be good to know what the key challenges/themes you have encountered in your countries from COVID-19, and what you consider to be the challenges as we move out of lockdown and start living with COVID-19 in our environments?

The Health and Social Care group continue to meet ‘virtually’ to ensure we are able to continue to update our action plans to support our overall strategy and our members.

Unfortunately there are no events schedule for the remainder of the year or at least until restrictions allow, however, we will be looking to offer webinars during 2021. We are planning short zoom engagement sessions, what topics would you like to see discussed?

For regular updates on our activities, events and articles join our LinkedIn or Twitter pages.

Many thanks,

Mark Parsons
Chair IOSH Health and Social Care Group