The Tele Psychological Support Service (TAP) promoted by the "la Caixa" Foundation and developed by the Galatea Foundation has attended 1,066 health professionals since it started in early March to date, carrying out almost 4,000 interventions (3.7 interventions on average for each user).
TAP is a free service that both foundations agreed to promote at the beginning of the health emergency caused by the pandemic, in order to attend to and alleviate the mental and emotional overload of health and social professionals. Seventy-six percent of the demand expressed so far is for emotional suffering.
In view of the excellent ratings of the service obtained from users, and in order to continue responding to the needs of healthcare professionals, both foundations have agreed to extend this free platform, for the time being until June 2021.
"Within our line of emotional and spiritual care aimed at patients and families in hospital contexts, with this project we are taking another step forward by offering the same much-needed comprehensive and human accompaniment to the professionals who care for us and who continue to find themselves on the front line in these still difficult times. Their mental and emotional health is everyone's health", explained Isidro Fainé, President of the "la Caixa" Foundation.
A schedule is established with each patient by videoconference or telephone, with sessions lasting between 20 and 30 minutes, given that this is not conventional therapy but psychological care in very exceptional circumstances. From March 2020 to date, 691 users have been discharged, representing almost 70% of the professionals attended.
The director of the Galatea Foundation, Antoni Calvo, says: "Health professionals have a strong professional and social commitment. They work daily with a high level of self-demand and live under great pressure, which, in the end, can affect their state of mind and their psycho-emotional balance. Paradoxically, they often find it difficult to take care of their own health and ask for help, because they are trained to help others".
Anxiety, stress and depression are the main symptoms that the Galatea Foundation's network comprising 42 psychologists treats in their consultations, most of which are requested by women (86%).
Antoni Calvo adds: "We receive more consultations from women because the majority of health and social services professionals are women. But it is also true that even before the pandemic we had observed that women have less difficulty in asking for help. For health professionals, taking care of oneself is a priority in order to be able to care. In fact, taking care of oneself is an ethical and deontological imperative.
38% of professionals who use TAP are doctors, 33% are nurses and 10% are auxiliary nurses. Almost half (47%) work in hospitals and 23% in primary care centres. Social workers and educators, pharmacists, dentists and psychologists, among others, also use this resource.
Facing the return to work, fear of their own or their relatives' contagion, the mourning process, difficulties in the personal/family sphere, anguish due to isolation, confinement or quarantine; difficulties in the work sphere; persistent COVID-19, difficulties in conciliation, reappearance of the symptomatology, etc. are currently common problems among health or social workers, which TAP therapists deal with on a day-to-day basis.
One of the characteristics that differentiate and give quality to this service is the continuity of care. Thanks to the experience and the care network of the Galatea Foundation, several referrals have been made in cases where the user has required it. In 2020, a total of 36 referrals were made to care programmes for severe disorders and addictions; 12 referrals to psychiatric telesupport, 176 referrals to the Emotional Support Service and 23 referrals to therapeutic groups.
The Galatea Foundation has also addressed demands for support interventions for groups, teams and organisations, which are based on spaces for exchange between professionals and are aimed at identifying, reinforcing and increasing individual and collective resources and strategies for healthy professional, organisational and relational development. From April 2020 to February 2021, 28 groups, teams and organisations have been involved, reaching approximately 900 professionals.
TAP has the participation of the Ministry of Health and the support of the General Council of Medical Associations, the General Council of Psychology and the General Council of Nursing. It is also supported by Almirall, King Baudouin Foundation, Fundación Pizarroso and Tesa. In Catalonia, the collaboration of CatSalut and Barcelona City Council has also been added.
The setting up of this psychological care service is part of the various initiatives being promoted by the "la Caixa" Foundation to respond to the coronavirus crisis from different angles. These include the mobilisation of professionals from the Programme for the Comprehensive Care of People with Advanced Illnesses, with the aim of providing support to the units dedicated to people affected by the coronavirus and their families.
The entity, directed by Antonio Vila and chaired by Isidro Fainé, is also intensifying its efforts to assist households with children and young people in vulnerable situations linked to the CaixaProinfancia programme. Specifically, the institution has earmarked an extraordinary 3 million euros for food aid aimed at more than 10,000 families.
In addition to these social initiatives, the Foundation supports scientific research to combat COVID-19, which includes collaboration with international reference centres such as ISGlobal and IrsiCaixa.
The Galatea Foundation was created in 2001 by the Council of Medical Associations of Catalonia, following the experience of the Comprehensive Care of the Sick Physicians Programme (PAIME), to ensure the health and well-being of all health professionals and, as a result, guarantee citizens a higher quality of care.