Support for staff health and wellness

01 April 2020 | From Kgethi
 

Dear colleagues

The national lockdown, which was implemented to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), is unquestionably a necessary measure and may save many lives.

As essential as it is to “flatten the curve” in South Africa, social distancing and working from home introduce complexities, stresses and anxieties that will affect University of Cape Town (UCT) staff in many ways.

While university operations are continuing virtually and online wherever possible, the UCT executive wants to ensure that all staff remain healthy, both physically and mentally. The UCT Human Resources department has been working to further increase the availability of, and access to, counselling services to support the mental health of our staff through this period of lockdown and remote working.

Supporting staff through line management

UCT is a close community, but one that is currently working and living under very stressful conditions as a result of COVID-19. As a community, we need to watch out for one another, and I particularly want to ask line managers and supervisors to be alert to the unique needs of their staff during this time. I want to remind you that some of our colleagues are working from home in circumstances that are very different from the workplace.

The importance of regular personal engagement with colleagues who are working remotely cannot be over-emphasised. Although some people think that isolation and loneliness are minor issues, they can become major issues if they are not dealt with effectively. I want to encourage all line managers to engage with your staff members by making use of the available online tools, such as Whatsapp or Skype, or calling on the phone on a regular basis, to ensure not only business continuity but also personal contact and monitoring of staff wellbeing.

UCT Human Resources (HR) offers many forms of support, including the coordination of services provided by the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as described below. I urge you to read through the full list of counselling services available through UCT HR’s Health and Wellness web page.


Increased ICAS services

During this unprecedented time, we have asked ICAS to increase their capacity for managing the immediate needs of our staff members. While ICAS on-site counselling is suspended for now, the same counsellors are now available to conduct telephonic counselling. You can access these services by:

  • Calling toll-free for counselling over the phone: 080 111 39452
  • Sending a please-call-me to: *134*905#
  • Emailing uct@icas.co.za.

ICAS recently launched a new online app, ICAS On-the-Go, which allows you to chat live with an ICAS counsellor. The app gives you and your family access to a 24/7/365 Employee Wellness Programme and information to address some of your health and wellness needs.

Connect to ICAS On-the-Go. The code for UCT staff is UNI003.


SADAG services

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group, and its services are available to UCT staff members. SADAG offers free telephonic counselling for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

SADAG offers excellent podcasts that provide practical tips to cope in a time of anxiety.

Should you require their counselling services, please contact SADAG by:

  • calling 0800 171 171 (toll-free from a Telkom line 24 hours a day)
  • sending an SMS to 31393 to request a call back
  • emailing office@anxiety.org.za for a counsellor to call you back
  • visiting the SADAG website for very useful information about how to cope with the daily stresses of working during the national lockdown
  • visiting the SADAG Facebook page to access the Daily Expert Q&A from 13:00 to 14:00

One suggestion from SADAG is to reduce the time that staff and their families spend watching or listening to media coverage. SADAG suggests only following reliable resources such as:


Medical aid support

Kaelo

Staff in pay classes 2 to 6 are covered by Kaelo , which is promoting health and wellness through the Kaelo Cares page. Although the onsite UCT clinic is closed during lockdown, Kaelo is providing services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including free flu vaccinations for members with registered chronic conditions until 30 June 2020 (subject to availability and as per policy), and covering the cost of the pathology test (up to a maximum of R1 400) for confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. To access these services, Kaelo members can phone their Kaelo primary healthcare network doctors.

Discovery Health

Staff in pay classes 7 and above as well as academic staff who are Discovery Health members can access that medical aid provider’s services.

  • Visit the website on “Discovery’s support for you during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown”
  • Find out about Discovery’s Vitality at Home service to help you stay healthy and get rewarded at home during this difficult period.
  • Join the #JEFFtogether exercise community on Facebook, which is offering free morning workouts for adults and afternoon workouts for children online in partnership with Discovery Vitality. Maintaining physical wellness is essential to ensuring mental wellness.

Please try to make it part of your daily routine to reach out to your colleagues, your friends and your family. A sense of connection and a feeling of community are essential to create the culture of hope and healing that we so desperately need at the moment.

I want to thank you all for pulling together during this uncertain time in our country. Your willingness to work through the complexities we have been presented with will stand this university in good stead in the long term.

Sincerely

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
Vice-Chancellor


Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.


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Coronavirus Disease 2019 updates

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March. The intention of these drastic measures is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected. Although South Africa has recently reached a peak of COVID-19 infections, the country is expecting a surge in positive cases in August.

UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.

Campus updates

 
  •  Information
  •  Normal
  •  Caution
  •  Alert

Daily updates


Friday, 7 August 11:24, 7 August 2020
Monday, 27 July 14:00, 27 July 2020
Wednesday, 15 July 09:30, 15 July 2020
Monday, 13 July 14:25, 13 July 2020
Monday, 6 July 16:20, 6 July 2020
Thursday, 25 June 10:15, 25 June 2020
Tuesday, 23 June 12:30, 23 June 2020
Thursday, 18 June 17:35, 18 June 2020
Wednesday, 17 June 10:45, 17 June 2020
Tuesday, 2 June 12:20, 2 June 2020
Friday, 29 May 09:25, 29 May 2020
Monday, 25 May 14:00, 25 May 2020
Thursday, 21 May 12:00, 21 May 2020
Wednesday, 6 May 10:00, 6 May 2020
Tuesday, 5 May 17:05, 5 May 2020
Thursday, 30 April 17:10, 30 April 2020
Tuesday, 28 April 10:30, 28 April 2020
Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
Thursday, 23 April 17:00, 23 April 2020
Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
Monday, 20 April 17:45, 20 April 2020
Friday, 17 April 12:30, 17 April 2020
Thursday, 16 April 09:45, 16 April 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
Thursday, 9 April 09:00, 9 April 2020
Wednesday, 8 April 15:40, 8 April 2020
Wednesday, 1 April 15:50, 1 April 2020
Friday, 27 March 11:40, 27 March 2020
Thursday, 26 March 18:30, 26 March 2020
Tuesday, 24 March 15:40, 24 March 2020
Monday, 23 March 15:40, 23 March 2020
Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
Tuesday, 17 March 12:50, 17 March 2020
Monday, 16 March 17:15, 16 March 2020

Campus communications


Upcoming UCT virtual events 09:30, 15 July 2020
Pre-paid data for UCT students 14:25, 22 April 2020
Update for postgraduate students 12:55, 20 April 2020
UCT Human Resources and COVID-19 16:05, 19 March 2020
UCT confirms second COVID-19 case 09:15, 19 March 2020
Update on UCT COVID-19 response 13:50, 11 March 2020
Update on COVID-19 17:37, 6 March 2020

Resources

Video messages from the Department of Medicine

Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19

The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.


To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.

Useful information from UCT

External resources


News and opinions


Statements and media releases


Media releases



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Statements from Government



 
 

In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”

 

We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.

 

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