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There are multiple factors that affect the wellbeing of NHS and Social Care staff. The drop-down boxes below provide some key points that are reported to affect the mental health and wellbeing of teams. Each of these factors influences one another, and should be considered in order to improve general team wellbeing:

Behaviour and attitudes

Are staff committed to their job roles and the tasks they are assigned?

If concerns are identified, its important for leaders to actively listen and problem solve.

When leaders are able to embrace new ways of working, staff are more likely to feel as if their work is worthwhile and meaningful.

Leadership and management

If you have concerns for the behaviour of a member of staff, it is important that you are open to reflecting upon this and to have an open conversation.

Open communication should be continued with staff during organisational changes in order to maintain trust and a sense of belongingness for the team.

Each leader should role model the behaviour they wish to see in their staff.

For example, encouraging staff to take regular breaks whilst ignoring this advice yourself is unlikely to result in positive change.

The nature of the work

Some health care tasks can evoke distressing emotions or feelings, which may lead to unhelpful coping strategies. This might present itself as aggression, withdrawal and/or avoidance.

Increased workload and pressure can also impact on staff wellbeing.

In order to process these feelings and emotions, utilising supervision and engaging in reflective practice are helpful strategies to reduce pressure and open up space for conversations about wellbeing.

Structures and processes

When leaders provide clear team goals and include staff in the development of structures and processes, staff are less likely to feel pressured and out of control.

This includes having good IT systems, training and support for management, and robust HR processes (relating to recruitment and raising grievances).

Psychological safety

When team members feel included within their team, safe to learn, safe to contribute and safe to challenge, they are working in a psychologically safe team.

When staff are afraid to make mistakes or challenge others in the team, this creates a culture of fear and apathy, which subsequently affects staff wellbeing.

Practical steps to support NHS and Social Care workers in their challenging environments

1Fostering collaboration and cohesion

  • Aim to provide staff with regular opportunities to have an informal chat. This is particularly valuable following a distressing event or pressurised work situation.
  • Encourage staff to support each other. This may be through providing spaces for informal discussion or vocalising the importance of 5-minute catch-ups in between tasks.
  • Communicate with staff that formal support options are available and that you are able to support them with this.

2Be open about changes and challenges

  • Aim to communicate openly with your team when appropriate.
  • This may involve regular updates on training, staffing and other team information.
  • Involve your team in making changes that are appropriate to them.
    • How do you feel about changing the rota system? If you think we should change it, do you have any suggestions for how it could work in the future?
    • This can be done through a formal feedback mechanism (for example, a survey) or through inviting staff for an informal chat about potential changes.
  • Act accordingly on feedback.
    • Aim to maintain an open conversation with staff about the benefits and challenges of implementing certain changes.
    • It is important to maintain realistic, whilst fostering a climate where staff feel safe to contribute and challenge.
 

3Support wellbeing through flexible working

  • Aim to meet the physiological needs of staff first.
    • Providing adequate areas for rest, hydration and eating.
    • Ensuring staff have appropriate PPE.
  • If possible, rotate staff between high and lower stress areas to reduce chances of team members becoming overwhelmed.
  • Be aware of staff who may be more vulnerable to experiencing distress.
    • How can you assist their individual needs?
    • Taking appropriate action, for example offering them an informal space to talk about their thoughts, feelings and emotions following potential triggers for stress.

4Role modelling

  • It is important that you, as a leader, take adequate breaks and time for wellbeing. This sends a strong message to staff that it is ok to take time for yourself. Positive role modelling is a powerful tool that can really influence a team's approach to wellbeing.
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