Selfcare on shift

Male nurse is drinking water

A ‘Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel’ campaign aimed at nurses has been launched by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the United Kingdom.

The 3Rs initiative highlights the importance of nurses looking after themselves while on shift and how dehydration can affect concentration and cognitive function. The campaign emphasises that breaks are not a luxury but a necessity.

According to the RCN nurses in the UK are being forced to miss breaks due to workforce pressures.

South Australian Registered Nurse Kate Jackson says the inability to take breaks on shift regularly occurs in the hospital where she works in as well. “Heavy workloads and staff shortages can make it extremely busy. Your priority is to provide care that is required, which means breaks can often be missed.

“While I’m sure it’s not healthy to skip breaks, looking after yourself is not at the forefront of your mind when your patients need your urgent attention.”

But the RCN argues if missing regular breaks becomes the norm, it becomes unsustainable for nurses, warning they are more likely to become unwell, burn out or want to leave the job.

RCN National Officer Kim Sunley suggests employers need to provide a culture where nurses could look after themselves. “Employers and managers need to recognise that in order to create safe and healthy working environments, nurses should be able to have regular breaks and have access to drinking water and healthy food during a shift, be that in the community or on a ward.”

The RCN has provided an online resource for nurses with tips on how to rest, rehydrate and refuel on shift as part of their campaign.

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