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Eating healthy can be a bit of a challenge, as healthcare professionals are typically managing long shifts, running around and balancing many things at once. Taking a lunch break can sometimes be impossible. For this reason, snacking might be the best way to keep you going. Snacks can be consumed quickly on the go. Plus, eating 5-6 small meals a day, instead of 3 large meals, keeps the metabolism working at peak performance. Here are some great snack suggestions for busy nurses, doctors or healthcare workers :

  • Fresh or dried fruit. Fresh fruit is portable, refreshing, and can be eaten quickly. Fruits that are ready to eat when you want them are best, such as apples, bananas, grapes, or berries. Oranges and other citrus fruits can also be a good snack, but it is best to peel them ahead of time so they can be consumed quickly on the go. Dried fruit is also a great healthy snack idea, but watch out for added sugar and preservatives. When it comes to fruit, fresh is best.
  • Sliced apple (or a banana) with peanut butter (2 tablespoons is 1 serving).Apples alone are a great snack because they are highly portable and are low on the glycemic index, which means that it digests more slowly than many other carbohydrates and does not cause an extreme spike in blood sugar. Pairing an apple with peanut butter, which is a good source of protein and good for you fats, will keep you feeling full even longer. Sliced apples can be easily dipped in peanut butter and eaten on the go. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is essential for proper muscular function. For additional convenience, peanut butter can be purchased in serving-sized packages
  • Brown rice cake with nut butter.Anything paired with nut butter is a great workday snack. Brown rice cakes are low calorie and can be kept at work for easy access.
  • Hummus is another food that is low glycemic and a good source of fat and protein. It can be consumed with multigrain crackers or whole wheat pita bread, or with veggies, such as cucumbers, celery, carrots, or peppers, for added nutritional value. Hummus can be purchased in a snack-size or in a larger container that can be stored in the break room refrigerator.
  • Mixed nuts.Nuts are low glycemic and high in fat and protein, in additional to other health benefits. This is another snack that is easily eaten on the go, but be weary of your serving sizes. A serving of nuts is 1 ounce, which is typically about a handful. Choosing natural or lightly salted nuts over those with higher sodium. Pair the nuts with some dried cranberries or raisins for a healthy trail mix.
  • Greek yogurt.Greek yogurt is high in protein, so it helps you stay full throughout your shift. Its portability makes it a great grab-and-go snack. This is another item that is easily stored in the break room refrigerator. Add fruit, nuts, or granola for greater energy.
  • Oatmeal is full of protein and fibre, helping you get through your day. It is also warming and comforting, which makes for a soothing snack.  The healthiest variety is plain or original oatmeal, but there are also many different flavors available. Adding fruit, nuts, and honey is a good way perk up plain oatmeal.
  • Cottage cheese.2% milk fat or nonfat cottage cheese is high in protein to keep you full longer and low in fat and calories. This snack can be bought in convenient snack-size packages or in a larger container and left at work. Cottage cheese is versatile and can be eaten with virtually anything. Try it with fresh fruit or fruit preserves, veggies, or avocado to mix it up.
  • Protein or granola bars.There are many different brands and flavors of protein and granola bars to choose from. Reading the label is key to finding the healthiest ones, as some pack so much sugar they are basically glorified candy bars. Look for bars that are lower in sugar and that contain 10 or more grams of protein and 4 or more grams of fibre.
  • Fruit smoothie or protein shake.Fruit smoothies and protein shakes can be purchased at the grocery store or made at home before work and stored in the refrigerator until snack-time. If buying them pre-made, watch out for smoothies and shakes that are high in sugar or contain a lot of preservatives.

Have any other favourite healthy snacks? Leave a comment to share it with us – Sharing is caring too !

Last year’s report by Skills for Care on the state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England estimated that just under 340,000 social care employees leave their jobs each year. On average, in care homes there are about 2,800 unfilled manager jobs at any one time while, despite concerted recruitment drives, vacancy rates for social workers in the statutory sector have jumped from 7.3% in 2012 to 11% in 2016, and turnover rates continue to climb.

Sharon Allen, chief executive of Skills for Care, says: “Recruitment and retention is without a doubt the biggest issue for adult social care employers because to have sufficient [levels] of the right people with the right skills is absolutely fundamental to providing quality care and support. It is a big concern for everybody and we’re trying to help promote careers in social care … but there are many challenges.”

With 80% of all jobs in adult social care held by women, something is clearly making women want to leave the sector. And the problems are not just confined to social care. In the NHS, figures from NHS Employers show that 77% of the workforce is female. There are currently 24,000 nursing vacancies (including in social care), according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

In community health nursing, there has been a 12% drop overall in full-time equivalent staffing numbers since September 2009, despite growing demand.

In the East Midlands, district nurse Mary Black says her team and other colleagues are struggling to cope, because of a mixture of unfilled vacancies, maternity leave and long-term sickness absence, which directly affect patient care. “We firefight every single day: moving patient visits, ringing round to see if other teams can help, and we often have to cancel or defer. We have bank and agency nurses to cover vacancies, but not usually sickness or maternity leave, so it means the staff who are left have lots more visits to do each day,” she says. “There is no continuity, as often there’s a different agency nurse each day and there are a lot of duties and patient visits that an agency nurse can’t do, so the complex patients fall to our permanent members of the team. Agency staff often cancel at the last minute and sometimes don’t turn up.”

Black says: “It often feels like we’re not giving our patients a very good service, we cannot spend the time with them that they often need. Incidents and complaints will have risen.”

Rob Davies, a senior physiotherapist at a large hospital in the south-west, which he asked not to be named, says it struggles to attract recruits from further afield. For the last eight months, there have been 12.5 full-time equivalent vacancies for junior physiotherapists and two for senior specialist ones. With major trauma status, and a busy outpatient unit, an overnight and weekend service, the 140 members of the physiotherapy team are swamped, even when they have a full roster of staff. Stress is now the biggest cause of workplace sickness, he says. “[Staff shortages] affect everything from how you manage the caseload, and what you can do for patients, and it contributes to staff stress. It affects morale. I’m surprised that more of us in our department don’t go off sick.

“When you don’t have the right staff levels, we have to see patients on a prioritised basis,” he says. “Patients don’t get the quality and sometimes it means people get sub-optimal outcomes. It’s frustrating and demoralising.” Some of his colleagues have voted with their feet: leaving for private sector jobs with better work-life balance, or moving somewhere with lower house prices. “They are on the same money as it’s nationally done but the property prices are different,” Davies says. In the South-West, the shortages are particularly acute for more junior grades. “It tends to be easier to recruit more senior physios as they are a band up so the pay is better but it still can be an issue getting the right people down to us.”

Last month’s report on the public sector workforce by the Reform thinktank is blunt about the impact of staffing problems. “Public services fail when employees fail,” it concludes. “This is the dramatic lesson from a number of high-profile errors in recent public service delivery. In many instances, quality is compromised, not because of individual incompetence, but the way the workforce is structured and organised.”

With potentially fewer candidates from the EU and more existing staff retiring, it will be crucial for the NHS and social care sectors to attract younger people. Allen says that there is already close working with schools and job centres to promote social care as a career and adult social care has had “phenomenal success” with apprenticeships, although the government’s levy on large employers to help fund apprenticeships could risk this success. “There’s more we can do to promote social care as a really great career for young people,” says Allen. “It’s not just about getting people in, it’s about keeping them.”