Belgian charity supports projects to combat chronic stress among health care staff

Belgian charity supports projects to combat chronic stress among health care staff
Covid intensive care, Sint-Vincentius hospital Antwerp, 2020. Credit: Jimmy Kets/Belga

As research has shown that chronic stress levels are continuing to rise among health care staff, a Belgian fund is supporting 24 projects that aim to combat anxiety and fatigue that is leading to staff absence and people quitting the sector.

From wellness workshops to coaching and discussion groups, the projects all aim to combat chronic stress, and will receive a total of half a million euros in support from donations made to the King Baudouin Foundation as part of the charity’s Solidarity Care Fund set up in 2020. The projects were chosen by a jury of independent experts.

“The pandemic leaves little room to catch our breath. Our healthcare providers have to deal with the continuous pressure, the constant shifting and changing of plans, and the uncertainty about the future,” Lode Godderis, Professor of occupational medicine at the KULeuven and chair of the jury, said.

“That takes a lot of energy out of people who have given everything during the crisis. So I can only welcome the fact that the Solidarity Fund has selected projects that directly address the real individual and collective needs of healthcare professionals.”

One in four considering quitting

A total of €512,544 will be allocated to the projects – 11 in Flanders and 13 in Wallonia and Brussels – set up by hospital centres, residential care centres and facilities for people with a disability, which aim to improve the well-being of care and support staff, both individually and collectively.

Although the issues facing staff in this sector are not new, the coronavirus crisis has tested care and support staff on another level, both physically and mentally, for almost two years, leading to them suffering from anxiety, fatigue, losing passion for their jobs and increasingly resulting in absenteeism and more care professionals quitting.

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In December, a study by the Sciensano Health Institute showed that care and support workers are still experiencing high to very high levels of symptoms of chronic stress, with 28% of the participants considering quitting their profession. “The need for support therefore remains high,” Sciensano stressed.

Since November, the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections among staff in the sector resulting in more care workers being in isolation and quarantine has further exacerbated the situation they face.

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