New guidance offers advice on alleviating staff stress and improving mental well-being

Health Education England aims to help nurses ‘deal with the pressures they often face’

Health Education England aims to help nurses ‘deal with the pressures they often face’

Schwartz rounds allow staff to discuss their practice. Picture: SWNS

Taking breaks and encouraging staff to speak up about poor practice are some of the ways NHS employers can improve the mental well-being of their workforce, according to a new guidance framework.

The resource, commissioned by Health Education England (HEE), urges employers to rethink how they deal with workforce stress and examine the systems they have in place for managing staff well-being.

Variety of measures

Suggestions in the framework include:

  • Creating a more supportive organisation, including reflective supervision, team-building days and Schwartz rounds (where staff discuss their practice and any associated emotions)
  • Increasing and measuring staff engagement, such as encouraging more open 'speaking up' cultures and trade union engagement
  • Tips on good management practice, such as offering flexible working, continuing professional development and ensuring staff take breaks

Building resilience

The guidance follows the recent recommendation from the NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission, which urged employers to take steps to support staff in building resilience.

HEE chief nurse Lisa Bayliss-Pratt said: ‘We must prioritise and improve the physical and mental health, and well-being, of our staff.

‘They are our greatest resource – we need to support them to ensure they are the best they can be and provide high-quality care.

‘This comprehensive framework has been trialled and tested by NHS organisations. It provides employers with practical and theoretical help to establish structures and processes to support employees in dealing with the pressures they often face.’

HEE commissioned the National Workforce Skills Development Unit (NWSDU) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London to develop the resource.

Shifting focus

NWSDU associate director Ian Tegerdine said: ‘We are excited to contribute to the thinking on making the NHS the best place to work and on the challenges of staff absence and retention.

‘We believe that shifting the focus away from individual resilience and encouraging more thought about system and organisational support is key to making positive change.’

Read the guidance

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