GRUELLING 12-hour shifts, staff shortages due to sickness, and patient deaths are just some of the challenges facing Britain’s frontline health workers as they battle the Covid-19 crisis. The photographs of NHS staff with their faces covered in blotches, sores and peeling skin from wearing PPE have flooded social media and shocked us all.
We wanted to do whatever we could to help alleviate the physical toll. Which is why last month, we launched the Fabulous NHS Care Package – a goodie bag stuffed with toiletries and cosmetics to be delivered directly to staff in hospitals, care homes, crisis centres and Covid hubs.
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We joined forces with We C U 2020, an initiative started by Fabulous’ former Beauty Editor Lauren Ezekiel, and helped take it nationwide. Together, we’ve given 200,000 toiletries to tens of thousands of amazing healthcare heroes.
“Self-care is therapeutic. This is like putting a hand on an NHS worker’s shoulders to say: ‘We’re here for you,’” explains Lauren.
Generous beauty brands have donated more than £1million worth of products to soothe chapped hands, rehydrate dry skin caused by harsh chemicals, and reduce red marks from wearing tight-fitting face masks. An army of volunteers has then worked around the clock to pack the bags.
Fabulous has also been working with Helpforce, a charity supporting volunteering in the NHS. It’s allowed NHS workers across the country to register their interest in these care packages, which means we’ve been able to distribute them up and down the country through the courier service UPS.
Here, three frontline heroes who have received a Fabulous NHS Care Package share their stories.
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If you’ve received a goodie bag please share your pics with us @Fabulousmag #FabNHSPack #WeCU2020.
Read more about the campaign at Thesun.co.uk/topic/fabulous-nhs-care-package
‘PPE has been giving me a rash and sore nose’
Hannah Jerman, 25, is an A&E staff nurse at Homerton University Hospital in London.
“A&E is always fast – but it’s been a different kind of fast during this crisis. Patients with Covid-19 can become unwell extremely quickly, so you have to be able to react to it with speed and get all hands on deck. It’s emotionally draining, too, which has been the hardest part for most staff.
“We’ve never had to deal with so many patients dying so quickly, and there are more deaths than we’ve ever witnessed before. Normally in A&E we see patients briefly, then either fix them or send them home or on to another department where they’ll be treated. Now, we send them to the ward knowing that many are going to die.
“We see a lot of patients giving up because they just don’t have the energy to get better and they’re deflated knowing that they’re not going to see their families while in hospital.
“We spend a lot of time hand-holding and sitting at bedsides. For anyone who’s going to pass away, we’ve made sure that there’s someone there. And it’s not just the nurses doing that – the doctors have been amazing at stepping in to do this, too, as they’ve followed the patients’ journeys.
“A couple of weeks ago, I had quite a tough week and was thinking: ‘Is this ever going to end?’
“But – in London at least – it looks as though we’re through the worst of it for now. We’re starting to get back to dealing with more normal problems, but we still have to wear PPE as everyone has to be treated as if they might have the virus.
“We wear masks all day and the PPE is very sweaty. I’ve had a lot of breakouts on my skin and was getting rashes, a red sore nose and dry chin. I also wash my hair every day now because of the sweat.
“So when our care packages came in, everyone was saying how amazing it was and it lifted our spirits.
“The Hawaiian Tropic Aftersun was very useful for my rare days off when I got out in the sun, and the Nip+Fab mask was a lovely treat for my sore face at the weekend.
“It really boosted the morale within our department.”
‘I was so ill from Covid I thought I might die – but I still wanted to lift my colleagues’ spirits’
Maria Sansevero, 54, is a healthcare assistant at Milton Keynes University Hospital.
“I work in the hospital’s respiratory assessment unit, which was created to battle the virus. One day we were doing our normal jobs, but within 24 hours it was completely different. We got new work hours, new ways of wearing our uniforms, and then PPE, as well as caring for seriously ill patients. It was mentally exhausting having to adapt to an alien environment overnight. Covid patients come straight into our unit.
“They are triaged, have their bloods taken, ECGs, X-rays and then decisions are made about where they need to go. It can be quite a long process and they can end up staying for a long time before they get a bed on a ward.
“For staff, the shifts are very long and wearing PPE is so hot and sweaty. I’m at an age where I have menopause symptoms, so it’s not been much fun. When you are wearing personal protective equipment, it’s really hard because there is a barrier between you and patients, but you can still hold someone’s hand and chat to them.
“I came down with Covid-19 a few weeks ago. I had to self-isolate with my partner and daughter and really struggled for about ten days. My whole body had so many aches and pains, I felt like I was 150 years old. I couldn’t get out of bed. At one point, I honestly thought I might die.
“While I was ill I was thinking about my colleagues and I got so upset, as I just wished there was something I could do to lift their spirits. That’s when I came across the Fabulous campaign and immediately thought it would be great for my hospital. I work with the best team in the country.
“We were overwhelmed to receive the goodie bags. I love the hand cream and moisturiser to help soothe the redness from the masks. It really does make everyone feel that they are valued and that someone cares.”
‘Wearing tinted lip balm under our masks boosts morale!’
Alice Wolverson, 26, is a staff nurse at University College London Hospital.
“We are supposed to be a brain tumour unit, but since the crisis we’ve turned into a Covid ward. It’s been a tough environment to work in – London is one of the areas with the most cases and deaths – but I have a great team. We’ve all pulled together like one big family, supporting each other.
“We do 12 1/2-hour shifts. We’re not allowed water bottles on the ward and we don’t even have access to a toilet there. We have to get changed out of PPE if we leave the ward. We wear the protective equipment the whole time and we get so hot and sweaty.
“Wearing PPE is like constantly being on my period – we’ve all got spots on our faces that won’t go away, as well as sore skin from the masks.
“On my way home after one night shift a woman came up to me and said: ‘I can tell you’re a nurse because your face is all marked. I just want to say thank you for everything you’re doing.’
“The lines from the PPE stay on your face for a few hours after work, so getting things such as the face masks have been an absolute godsend. There was so much in the goodie bags that I’ve been able to distribute to staff on most of the wards in the hospital.
“When you’ve been sweating in PPE all shift you don’t feel very nice, so using the face wipes we’ve been given makes a huge difference. We’ve also received some tinted lip balms. You can’t see much of each other under the masks but, just like when you go to a job interview and put on your best underwear, it helps you feel good on the inside and it keeps morale up. I especially loved the Burt’s Bees Lip Balm and the Dermalogica UltraCalming Trio Pack.
“After a long shift, I’m always worried about bringing the virus home to my boyfriend. And even if lockdown finishes it will still be a long time before it’s safe for me to see my grandparents and other family.
“We’re feeling a little bit down at the minute, but these packages have definitely made a difference.”
BIG thanks to all the brands that have donated:
7th Heaven, Alpha-H, Argentum Apothecary, Baylis & Harding, Bioré, Bondi Sands, British Airways, Bubu Skincare, Bulldog, Burt’s Bees, Cetraben, Coco & Eve, Coty, Crabtree & Evelyn, Curaprox, Dermalogica, Dove, Dr Hauschka, Dr Pawpaw, Egyptian Magic, Elizabeth Arden, Emma Hardie, EOS, Essence, Floral Street, Fudge Professional, Guava & Gold, Hask, Hawaiian Tropic, Impulse, Institut Esthederm, John Frieda, Kate Somerville, Lacura, Latest In Beauty, L’Occitane, Lynx, MegRhythm, Mitchum, Molton Brown, Monat, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Neom, Nessa Organic, Nspa, Nursem, OGX, Ouai, Palmer’s, Percy & Reed, Philosophy, Polished London, Proto-col, Ren, Salcura, Tan Luxe, Ted Baker, Toni & Guy, Tracie Giles, Wilkinson Sword, XO Balm.
If you work for a brand that would like to donate products, email [email protected]
Join our George Cross campaign for NHS staff
We are urging Sun readers to sign a petition calling for our NHS staff to be awarded the George Cross.
We are backing a proposal by Lord Ashcroft to honour our health heroes with the gallantry gong given for acts of bravery that did not take place in battle.
A No10 spokesman said: “The NHS is doing a fantastic job and the nation will want to find a way to say thank you when we have defeated this virus.” SAS hero Andy McNab added: “The award of a George Cross would show an emotional appreciation.”
We are asking our readers to please sign the petition below.
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