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"If we care for ourselves, then we can better provide for others" says Health Board Chaplain


Hywel Dda’s Chaplain says it’s good to talk about our feelings to manage the impact that COVID-19 has had on our mental health.

Euryl Howells emphasises in this week’s podcast episode, the importance of caring for our own feelings and others by using health board channels for support.

“If we think of the word ‘love’ and look to the future, we must show that we are kind. Kind to ourselves.

“It is important that we reflect on where we've been and what has happened to us, and that we take ownership of those feelings.

“We are united, we’re one community in the health board over three counties.

“If we all take care of each other, love each other, then hopefully we can move on to the future, in a healthier way.”

Euryl was inspired to become a healthcare chaplain when completing a placement at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Paddington thirty years ago.

“The work was very varied and interesting, working in the secular world with patients, staff and families of every religion, from different races and cultures.

“Within an institution where there are uncertainty and challenges, making decisions at the drop of a hat. And to try and bring some light.

“Not to try and provide an explanation or reach out with an answer, nor to judge. But to be quite neutral.

“Being a Chaplain, doesn’t mean a medical or clinical worker, but capable of acknowledge the tragedy of the trauma that touches people when illness comes.

“Chaplaincy is an understanding of being with someone, alongside them on a journey, as the word ‘chaplain’ means in Latin, ‘a cloak in a storm’.”

Euryl came to work at Hywel Dda University Health Board in 2010, having previously completed a two-year placement in Exeter as a Senior Chaplain.

“These past 18 months have been completely unprecedented, we have been learning from day to day how to deal with this in the best way.

“For the first time we were working with patients on our own and contacting friends and family over the phone.

“That was very challenging in itself in a way, because facing someone and speaking to them face-to-face is much easier for both sides.”

 “We have had the right to go and be with people, and I've realised that is how we were able do our work.

“If a mother giving birth lost her child or someone had a serious diagnosis, we wouldn't be able to support them in the same by phone.

“Being there, seeing their emotions, has been beneficial to everyone I think.

“There isn’t anyone in healthcare made of steel, we’re flesh and blood, our calling means that we want to be side-by-side with patients and family.”

Euryl’s key message on this week’s podcast series is that we must all continue to do our part to stop the spread of the virus.

“I think we as people must realise that this virus is something that might be with us for years.

“We have to deal with what is happening now, as well as what hasn't been done, so that people have the best quality of life.

“That's why we need to be careful… if I ensure I don't spread it, the service can continue providing the best service for the future.”

Visit the health board’s IAWN webpage (opens in new tab) for further information and resources on mental health and wellbeing.

Listen to Euryl’s full podcast (opens in new tab) (an English transcript is available).