June 20, 2020
Aris Oikonomou Agence France-Presse
The COVID-19 arrived in a context where the staff was already overworked, not to mention the low valuation of their work.
This text is part of the special issue to mental Health
Answer, rejuvenation, energizing. The holidays are essential, especially for health workers, if we want our “guardian angels” continue to watch over us.
Since the beginning of the crisis, more than 40 ministerial orders have been taken, including several that impact on the working conditions of employees in the health sector : working hours, cancellation of leave etc Of the workers and trade unions have denounced these measures, ” wall to wall “, fearing that the holidays are also restricted. After three months of marathon COVID-19, the health workers need holidays, they argued.
Take a break
“All the studies show this : the holidays have positive impacts on mental health,” observes AngeloSoares, a professor in the Department of organization and human resources at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Decrease exhaustion, anxiety, and distress, the holidays, even if they are short, have a positive effect among all workers.
They are even more important in these times of pandemic, as health care workers face difficult conditions and a high stress. “The holiday will allow to catch-up in the private and family life,” added Mr. Soares. All the more that the vast majority of health workers are in fact workers, says Linda Lapointe, vice-president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle du Québec (FIQ), which brings together 76 000 nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and perfusionists clinical. “Even if child care were prioritizing health care workers, many were left lacking, and they could not longer rely on grandparents for help, which increases the mental workload “, she remarks.
During their vacation, the worker, free of the pressure of time, made provision for times of joy and happiness. These periods of joy will have a positive effect on their health, even after the return to work. The holidays would have the same impact on cardiovascular health.
To explain the emergency of a time of rest, the professor Soares goes back to the structural problems that are at work in the system for several decades. “If we are in trouble today, it is because the philosophy of management in the health care environment is, since the 1990s, to do more with less, which has led to a degradation of working conditions “, he believes.
The COVID-19 arrived in a context where the workers were already crowded, not to mention the low valuation of the work of all these essential workers (both wage as symbolic). “The COVID-19 was taken as an excuse to overcome the problems that pre-COVID-19,” says Ms. Lapointe. Fortunately, the protests have borne fruit, and the majority of the workers will be able to take a vacation this summer. “What we reproached, it was the measures that applied to everyone, so that all the regions have not been affected in the same way,” she explains.
The business of health are at the base difficult. “The pandemic is coming, and the people are already completely exhausted. It is therefore absolutely essential to have a vacation. I understand that there is a lack of world, but it will have to find another solution, otherwise you’ll exhaust the people,who will need to take leave even longer, ” explained Mr Soares. Some workers have seen their holidays spring cancelled, ” said Ms. Lapointe.
This type of management does not consider the fact that vacations improve productivity. “We have conducted experiments where they forced workers to take a vacation, and it was observed an increase of the productivity in the return of this time to rest,” says the researcher. Instead of unilateral decisions, the decisions should rather be made according to the context (area chaudeou region little affected), and sitting down with the workers. “Taxation plays a lot on the morale,” noted Mr. Soares.
The context of a pandemic also adds an important layer of emotional significance to the business demanding of health care workers. In addition to seeing their patients die from the disease, the nurses, attendants and physicians are suddenly as vulnerable themselves and they feel that they put their relatives in danger. “We can understand why they need to vacation, more than ever,” said Mr. Soares. “If we want to deal with the second wave, or the resumption of activities, it is necessary to have a time of rest,” says Ms. Lapointe.