- By Katherine Murray, RN, BSN, MA, CHPCN(C)
In spring 2020 as COVID emerged around the world, Dr Bonnie Henry invited British Columbians to be kind, be calm and be safe. It was a tall order for essential workers, especially Health Care Assistants (HCAs) – the heroes of the health care team.
Based on feedback from HCAs about their education needs and the desire for connection, BCCPC offered a series of online gatherings for discussion and debriefing. Patio Ponderings with Kath and Misha included “Patio Ponderings Summer 2020 Challenge”, an invitation to HCAs to create a project highlighting their personal experiences during COVID-19.
From pencil sketch to winning poster
Coreen Ironside and colleagues Alyssa Lampreau, Joanne Philip and Rhiannon Hall from the Simpcw First Nation north of Kamloops submitted a poster titled, “Keeping My Wellness Wheel Balanced”.
Coreen says that she started with a pencil sketch, outlining the medicine wellness wheel:
• mental – representing contributing and purpose
• spiritual – representing cultural spiritual wisdom
• physical – representing respectful empowerment
• emotional – representing caring connection
Delving deeper, Coreen and her team then identified the negative stressors for each arc of the wheel that added to the challenge, and those positive things that they feel reduces stress and helps them to stay balanced. Then each member of the team contributed values that help support the wheel and help them live a “worthwhile life”.
The medicine wheel was taught to Coreen by Darian Thira. “The wheel has helped to save my life, especially now with COVID 19,” she says. “I use the wheel to stay balanced. When I get stressed, I look at the wheel and find ways to help myself. By knowing myself better, I can understand clients better and I can help them. You need to have self-worth first; it you don’t have self-worth, it is harder to care for others.”
From winning poster to vital tool
When COVID-19 initially hit, Coreen and her team were not allowed to visit clients in the community. There was no face to face contact. At first, she was worried, a lot, about people getting sick, sad for those who were sick, and concerned about spreading the virus. Now, six months later, the situation has changed – she and her colleagues wear PPE, follow protocols, and are allowed to do home visits, provide personal care, and drive clients to appointments – but the stress and worry haven’t gone away.
When Coreen is feeling stressed, helpless and concerned, she uses the medicine wheel on the poster to reflect on those things that give her strength, and then chooses what she can do today to help her find balance. On nice days, she chooses to be in nature and pick berries.
As winners of the Summer 2020 Challenge, the team received a cash prize and are delighted to use it towards a wellness day to continue to balance their wellness wheel.
Thanks to Coreen, Alyssa, Joanne and Rhiannon for providing care in your community, for participating in the Summer 2020 Challenge, and for sharing your wellness wheel so we can all find ways to balance our own health!