Our NHS People

Our organisational approach to support wellbeing with Kim Nurse

Kim [00:00:00] So if I could start by maybe backtracking a little bit about when we’re thinking about stress management and supporting our staff, historically, using the analogy of Little Britain, the computer says no. Managers felt comfortable working to a policy. And if they had a policy that told them how to manage a certain situation, then they felt comfortable with that and didn’t feel that would derail them in any way. 

Kim [00:00:40] It also had the belief that there was an assurance that that treated everybody the same. And therefore managers could get on to manage and they wouldn’t have lots of people asking them to do something to put in place. So, one person, they’ll have a whole queue of people outside their door also wanting the same thing. 

Kim [00:01:05] So there’s a real discussion around how to move that thinking and so the protest was to move that dial and turn no to yes. 

Kim [00:01:26] So this meant that we needed to have more visible leadership from the top and a rationale of why we were doing it. Why was it the right thing to do? I mean, morally, it’s the right thing to do. But also organizationally it provided a huge range of benefits. So managers were trained in health and well-being and the information about health and well-being is very visible in board papers. So really, from the top of the organisation, you could see that this was an important aspect for us. 

Kim [00:02:04] During the discussions there was a real disconnect often with knowing who your staff were, you knew how many people you had, but actually knowing who they were, what was going on in their lives. It’s so, so important. And this meant that really, how many of us really know what’s going on around us in clear view of everyone. So it’s very easy to put a smile on your face and people to say, “Are you okay?”, and walk-on even before the answer is given. 

Kim [00:02:44] So really to get to more understanding about staff and what was going on in their individual lives, and then that enabled managers and others to start really listening to people and problem-solving and designing the solutions together. So something went from being very generic to very individual, and that really started to change the dynamic, so I suppose the question really to everybody on the call today is, do you really understand who is in your team? Do you two know what is going on in their family? You know what their children are going through, what their parents are going through, what relationships there are, what their aspirations are. And I really get to know what those issues are for people. Until you get to know people as individuals, you won’t know what’s the right thing to put forward. And you won’t also notice some signs of changes in their behaviour.  

Kim [00:04:06] In an ambulance service staff are dealing with traumatic things every day.   In our current situation, these are even more acute for us. So whether you’re in the call centre and we have 111 services as well as 999 services. There’s new members of staff coming in at very short notice to be trained up very quickly to deal with the volume of calls, it means that we need to make sure that we’re putting in a real wraparound service around those staff. 

Kim [00:04:46] And also, we have our paramedics and our support technicians and a real army of student paramedics coming in to help with this surge in activity that we would experience in that moment. So that means that we have to think about the different types of training that they will require. We do have a peer support service. We have training on mental health first aid, that went in to managers first but has also been cascaded out now to all areas. And we employ two dedicated psychotherapists and two physiotherapists and they only support staff. 

Kim [00:05:37] We saw that there was a connection between physical issues, and mental conditions and vice versa. So the two physical and mental conditions and that whole of that well-being is something that is very clearly interrelated. And so it’s worth sort of thinking about whether somebody is going through a trauma of any description, whether it’s some personal trauma or a physical trauma, and how that might then play out in the different conditions that they will experience. 

Kim [00:06:24] This one is really just to give you a snapshot. It talks about the range of things that you can draw upon in an organisation. So, for example, we are health and wellbeing champions. These are volunteers that have come forward and said, how can I help? 

Kim [00:06:44] We have an organisation that is based in the communities across a very large geographical patch. And it’s these health and wellbeing champions who are absolutely critical to get those messages. And that level of support and understanding it and being visual out in those areas. So having those people that step forward and said, I’d like to do this, I can be trained in signposting. I can be an advocate for information that’s coming forward. And they put, you know, small things on. They do free toast on Fridays, they put fruit on during the week for their staff. They ensure that people are ready to supply thank you cards. And so the staff pass thank you cards to colleagues, just small acts of kindness really will come into it. 

Kim [00:07:45] But they’re also a conduit when people need to know where to go for something. How can I access a counselling service, or how can I talk to somebody? And they also run quiet rooms. And the quiet rooms are great when you’ve got a very demanding job and you just need to go somewhere and just reflect for a minute, on your own, without having to explain yourself as well. 

Kim [00:08:21] And in addition to the internal resources that we all pull upon that we’re surrounded by a range of external support. And as mentioned earlier today on the national offer, those national offers are a really great repository for services and information and tool kits that have already been validated. So it’s a great place to go into and pick out what you need at a tried and tested resource.

Kim [00:09:05] If I can just move to the next slide, which is just providing that snapshot across my organisation, this is the sort of thing we put on the website for our staff and they can click into those boxes and behind each of them will be a range of resources. So while people are isolated, this is a great resource. In addition, we’ve been trying to boost some of these things like video clips. 

Kim [00:09:34] Physiotherapists have done a series of short clips of only a minute or so long and they just give people some options when they are struggling at home with various, either physical or motivational pieces. And as such, it gives a snapshot you’ll all have these sorts of things going on I’m sure.  What it does for staff is to say we’ve got a real wraparound service for you. And that everybody’s involved in this. It’s actually, you know, everybody’s business to stay connected. 

Kim [00:10:16] And so the final couple of sentences really is that everyone can make a difference to two colleagues. It’s really important that you don’t think it’s somebody else’s role. But those of you that are fortunate enough to be in a managerial or position of authority. It’s, you know, you’re in a unique position to use what you’ve got to make your organisation a place where people can flourish. And I just want to end on a statement, a reference is cribbed from Dolly Parton. So Dolly Parton had this, “It takes a lot of money to make me look this cheap” or words to that effect. And I’ve just adapted it a little to say. “It takes a lot of effort to make it look this easy.” And I’m sure you’re all in that position. You know, all of this health and well-being, looking off to colleagues, really taking care of people, yourself, your teams, and everybody else. It truly does take a lot of effort to make it look this easy.

Key takeaways:

The challenges managers face when thinking about stress management and supporting staff…

  • Managers feel comfortable working to policy, they know what to expect, there is a level of consistency, it’s seen as efficient.

With a focus on wellbeing there was a push to have:

  • Visible leadership from the top.
  • Managers trained in health and wellbeing.
  • Board-level reporting.
  • Knowing your staff and what’s going on in their lives.
  • Listening, problem-solving, designing solutions together that work.
  • Mindset from ‘everyone’ to the ‘individual’.

West Midland Ambulance Service offered the following support to colleagues:

  • Peer support service.
  • Mental Health First Aid Training for all colleagues.
  • 2 dedicated Psychotherapists and 2 Physiotherapist supporting staff only.

Below is a snapshot detailing a range of support that colleagues can draw upon within West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Below is a snapshot detailing a range of external support:

A snapshot of further support that is offered:

Everyone can make a difference to the lives of colleagues. If you are fortunate to be in a position of authority, use your power to create great organisations in which people can flourish.

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