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Wellbeing takes priority for officers frazzled by COVID-19 response

Sleep advice, podcasts and even therapy dogs are being used in an NPCC campaign to highlight the wellbeing of response officers.
Published - 11/03/2021 By - Chris Smith

A year of dealing with the impact of COVID-19 has left frazzled response officers and staff needing support with wellbeing.

Forces across the country are stepping up initiatives including online resources to encourage officers to deal with issues like fatigue and find new ways to keep resilient.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council will be running a week of events from Monday with Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS), the College of Policing and the Police Federation developed specifically for response officers.

A key message will be that making small changes such as diet and sleep can have a positive impact on physical and mental health.

Self-care and being prepared for tough situations are critical – along with having the tools to support other officers who have been dealing with difficult situations.

Interview podcasts themed around managing change, working from home, cancer, bereavement and stress management have been scheduled. The first with Fortis Therapy on how to serve the public and avoid burnout is on Monday at 11am.

Other events include a #WECOPS response policing conversation with NPCC Wellbeing Lead CC Andy Rhodes and Response Policing Lead DCC Serena Kennedy.

Wellbeing vans will be deployed across the UK and wellbeing dogs will be available to some forces.

Resilience for response officers is a critical issue during the lockdown which has also brought financial worries for some families as well as the stress of dealing with members of the public who may have the virus.

The lockdown has seen an increase in assaults on officers and thousands have had to self-isolate.

NPCC lead for Response Policing, Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “The aim of the week of action is for response officers to be heard and valued, to see their workplace successes celebrated, to know that their wellbeing is important and to understand how and where to seek support when it is needed.

“These officers routinely face and deal with some of the most challenging and difficult situations in society. They are frequently the first on the scene whenever an incident occurs, and they are often the first and only contact that many ever have with the police service. It is only right that they feel supported in the work they do,” she said.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Wellbeing, Chief Constable Andy Rhodes added: “Officers have told us, through national surveys and through their own forces, that wellbeing, resilience and fatigue are big issues that they are facing.

"We want them to know that we are here to help, and during this week of action, a range of resources created specifically with response officers in mind will be made available across the country.”

Policing staff are not the only ones to be feeling the strain. NHS staff have been baring the brunt of the outbreak and the Metropolitan Police has been working with staff to help.

Police Dog Dexter, the Met’s first wellbeing dog, made his way to University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) to to meet health workers during their downtime.

The labrador and his handler, PC Mike Sheather, normally visit Met officers and staff to support them with their wellbeing. Their visits allow people the time to sit with Dexter and relax, giving them a forum where they can talk openly about issues of concern they have.

But the Met has widened out its support in recognition that other Blue Light staff will have been feeling the strain from 12 months of a pandemic response.

PC Sheather has so far has visited Homerton Hospital, The Royal London Hospital, and now UHL, with Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich to follow.

Dexter and PC Sheather were not the only guests, as the Taskforce’s Mounted Branch

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