Message from IGS President, Dr. Diarmuid O'Shea

“Believe a further shore is reachable from here”

S Heaney

Dear IGS members, colleagues and friends

As we come to the end of an extraordinary week, that included, as our Taoiseach said on March  17th  “a St. Patrick’s Day like no other that will go down in history”, I wanted to check in with you all.

This week, we heard and saw things on a scale we never expected in our careers or in our lifetimes.  In the weeks that follow, we can expect more of the same.  While our focus has all been on our patients and those that are vulnerable in our communities, during times like this we must also look after ourselves. 

As the days of the week blur into each other I urge you to take some time over the next few days, to down tools, pause and reflect on the week gone by and appreciate all that has been achieved and accomplished by the work you are doing and the strengthened and urgent sense of co-operation and collaboration.  We really are all in this together.   

The collegiality, goodwill and cameraderie that exists among the range of health care providers and professionals across the community and hospital sector has been mobilized into a powerful force that are collaborating like never before as we strive to combat COVID-19 and its effects.  I have no doubt that you see this. 

These teams are pulling together in creative, innovative and transformative ways.  New ways of working are being rapidly developed and implemented.  There are many work practices that will be changed for the better as a result of the challenging and changing  times we are going through.  This pace of change and the workload is exhausting and challenging for everyone.

Consideration, Compassion and Kindness are qualities that are always important, but now more so than ever.    So as you take time to consider the past week, think of your colleagues and how they are doing.  While we are all professionals, we too are processing this crisis along with our families. 

Be mindful that you never know what additional challenges those around you in the work place are dealing with in their lives outside work.  Sometimes stress can get the better of us and we can be unwittingly sharp or short.  Please look out for each-other.  Ask your colleagues how they are doing, and listen to how they respond.  Remember that a few well-placed words of encouragement or appreciation cost little, but can make a real difference in someone’s day.

Look out for yourself too. Don’t underestimate the value of your contribution or the difference you are making. Be reasonable with yourself and accept that, good is good enough, do not expect perfection.  We are all human and all in this together. Don’t push yourself so hard that you burn out.  Pace yourself and make sure you take time to eat and sleep properly.  Take some time outdoors and notice how Spring is progressing regardless.

Cut down on social media, and get your information from trusted sources. If you need information and advice on COVID-19, go to www.hse.ie/coronavirusMost importantly, practice what everyone is preaching – wash your hands, follow the guidelines on social distancing and look after and protect those close to you by following the HSE and Occupational Health Guidelines around work related illness and COVID exposure.  

If you think that there is some way that the IGS can support its membership in the coming weeks, don’t hesitate to contact us.  There is a vast amount of useful (and useless!) information circulating so if you spot something that might be useful to colleagues, please email us Miriam.ahern@irishgerontology.com or connect via Twitter @irishgerontsoc

Diarmuid