Clinical supervision aids well-being and protects nurses

Supervision is proving successful in making primary care nurses feel more valued and more likely to stay in the specialty despite overwhelming pressure

An illustration of a nurse holding an umbrella over her colleagues as three of them talk together and another sits in consultation with a mother and child: supervision safeguards standards and protects the workforce
Picture: iStock

Burnout, mental exhaustion and lack of resilience are all frequently cited reasons for nurses leaving the workforce, and addressing the mental health and well-being of nurses is a vital factor in retaining staff.

Access to well-being initatives in primary care is inconsistent

Mental health and well-being hubs set up during the COVID-19 pandemic provided rapid access to support where needed. However, access to these resources for primary care staff has been patchy even though we experience the same pressures that beset secondary care.

It is crucial that primary care managers recognise their responsibility to support nurses’ well-being as the pressures increase. Strategies to build practitioners’ resilience and promote well-being and motivation need to be implemented.

A strategy that has been shown to be successful in promoting a healthier, positive organisation is the provision of restorative or core supervision. This model of clinical supervision supports reflective practice in a safe environment, enabling individuals to consider options and reflect constructively on situations.

Supervision makes nurses feel valued and will aid retention

Access to supervision is critical to retaining the general practice workforce. It can support and promote personal resilience and enhances recruitment and retention as staff in more isolated positions feel valued. Access to regular supervision has been shown to safeguard standards, develop professional expertise and help improve patient outcomes.

A project designed to refresh and retain the workforce has been implemented by the Yorkshire and Humber Primary Care School. Our priorities are to roll out restorative supervision training to any primary care team member. We have a ‘train the trainers’ approach supported with online resources and the opportunity to join a community of practice. We aim to have a trained supervisor in every primary care network.

The project is at an early stage but feedback has been positive and we have grown the number of trained supervisors.

No strategy is a quick fix and the current workplace demands and pressures are increasing, but we need to be compassionate to ourselves.

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