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Experiences of the COVID-19 Lockdown and Telehealth in Aotearoa New Zealand: Lessons and Insights from Mental Health Clinicians
journal contributionposted on 2023-03-16, 04:50 authored by Benjamin J Werkmeister, Anne HaaseAnne Haase, Theresa FlemingTheresa Fleming, Tara OfficerTara Officer
Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly changed health service delivery and daily life. There is limited research exploring health professional experiences with these changes. This research explores mental health clinicians’ experiences over the first COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand to inform future pandemic responses and improve usual business practices. Method: Thirty-three outpatient mental health clinicians in three Aotearoa New Zealand regions took part in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analysed thematically applying an interpretive description methodology. Results: Three key themes emerged: (1) life in lockdown, (2) collegial support, and (3) maintaining well-being. Clinicians, fearful of contracting COVID-19, struggled to adapt to working from home while maintaining their well-being, due to a lack of resources, inadequate pandemic planning, and poor communication between management and clinicians. They were uncomfortable bringing clients notionally into their own homes, and found it difficult to separate home and work spheres. Māori clinicians reported feeling displaced from their clients and community. Conclusion: Rapid changes in service delivery negatively impacted clinician well-being. This impact is not lessened by a return to normal work conditions. Additional support is required to improve clinician work conditions and ensure adequate resourcing and supervision to enable clinicians to work effectively within a pandemic context.