Starting back at work after a prolonged break is always challenging. Starting back after a break during a pandemic is perhaps even more so. I’m not sure if we realised how fast the changes were as we lived them, but if you stepped out, you were quickly left behind.
In June 2022, when I return to work after four months’ leave, I find staff are less fearful of COVID. We now all know that work is less of a risk in terms of catching COVID than being out with our friends and family!
Before going on leave, ringing ward staff to tell them they had a patient who was a close contact was like setting off a chain of pain because they had to figure out bed moves to isolate patients. On my return, that seems more like business as usual.
As ever, the computer packages have changed again—and as a technology-challenged nurse, I find this constant change more overwhelming than anything else.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes is workplace socialising which has greatly diminished since the pandemic started. Staff are now less able to take breaks together or share in the celebrations and life and work achievements that have previously been part of our working life.
Many staff have left the hospital during my absence. I find it weird not to have had the chance to say goodbye to people I’ve known and enjoyed working with, and there is a sense of loss.