As the UK is encouraged to return to work, many nurses and carers are beginning to re-enter care homes and other care settings again after extended absence (due to shielding, self-isolating, furlough or contracting the virus).

We know the thought of returning could be worrying, but it's completely normal to be apprehensive in these circumstances. To help, we've pulled together seven focus points to help you prepare for rejoining work...

7 steps for returning to work

1. Take a risk assessment

This will provide you with peace of mind when entering the workplace (especially if you’re an agency nurse with existing health issues or in the high risk category). If you feel you would benefit from a risk assessment, refer to the RCN’s guidance or get in touch with your account manager at Florence and we’ll be able to discuss how we can support you. 

2. Block book

Block booking your shifts will help you limit the number of homes you're working in, making the transition back to work more manageable. It will also help you and the home comply with the effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If you’re interested in block bookings, speak to the home you regularly work at to discuss your options - or get in touch with Florence and we’ll assist you.

Get in touch by calling your account manager now on 020 3911 2555, or by emailing [email protected].

3. Take adequate breaks

Although breaks during your shift can be unpredictable (due to the demands of patient care) speak with your team or manager to coordinate, so that you are able to take time out of your shift to re-energise. This in turn will have an impact on the quality of the care you can provide - well rested nurses and carers perform best. 

4. Plan your meals

If you are working through the day, prepare and pack your meals in advance and try to incorporate healthy and energising food. If you’re working nights, aim to have your main meal before the shift starts and opt for lighter meals or snacks throughout the shift. Don’t forget to stay hydrated - try to drink water throughout your shift, when you can.

5. Talk to your colleagues

Your colleagues (and manager, if you have one) are there to support you. If you're feeling anxiety, it's likely they are too - don't be afraid to communicate and share your experiences, concerns, and advice; your team is in this together. You can find more helpful resources to support your mental wellbeing here.

6. Know infection prevention and control measures

All care homes will have updated and adapted their safety regulations and infection control measures this year to tackle the risk of COVID. This includes things like: wearing the appropriate PPE, checking temperatures, limiting number of visitors, cleanliness and hand hygiene. Get in touch with your care home before your shift to talk through these measures so that you’re prepared for everything. 

7. Switch off when you're not there

Follow mindfulness practices to help you 'stay in the moment' and not focus on work too much outside of hours, or too deeply on what's going on in the wider world. Aim to keep your work and home life as separate as possible and plan other activities you enjoy into your free time.

Here to help

Here at Florence we are continuing to work closely with our care homes by screening them regularly to give you full visibility and ensure that you are entering a safe environment when attending your shift.

Your dedicated account manager is always on hand to support you with your working schedule and any concerns you may have about your shifts - we’re only a call away. Get in touch by calling your account manager on 020 3911 2555, or emailing [email protected].

As you approach your return to work, try to incorporate some of these tips into your work routine and schedule - and stay positive! It takes a lot to care for other people, but we can’t forget to care for ourselves too.