Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.
What was the aim/problem?
Th aim was to facilitate an environment where staff felt comfortable and safe to communicate concerns in order to improve staff morale. Low staff morale was evident in the team through increased sickness, low productivity and there was a feeling of general tension and unhappiness throughout the team.
What was the solution?
The solution was to provide drop-in restorative supervision sessions on an ad hoc basis as the supervisor was available. A suitable location had to be found where staff felt safe and comfortable it couldn’t be just another office.
No appointment was necessary it was a drop-in service and the dates for these were made available in advance.
The supervision contract was also made available so that people were aware of what to expect especially when it came to confidentiality so that people felt safe.
This service was advertised by email, simple posters that were placed in office spaces and it was also communicated in handovers so that everyone was aware of them.
It was hoped that these sessions would increase communication, encourage staff support, helping people to feel valued and listened to which in turn could increase morale.
What were the challenges
Finding the appropriate space was a challenge being that the service is based in a prison and space is at a minimum especially comfortable space, its also all prison space and not owned by healthcare and room booking can take a while to organise when you have to go through different layers of admin from healthcare who then have to communicate with the prison. To overcome this, I went directly to the prison to save time and eliminate any communication errors so that I could find the right space and not end up with an inappropriate room and having to start over.
Another challenge was finding the time for me to run the sessions as the service was already understaffed and sickness left it even lower on numbers. I also had to decided what time during the day to hold the sessions. It was decided that the best time would be over lunch when the prisoners are locked up and work is limited due to this. To make sure that people would still get their lunch breaks it would run 30 mins before and after lunch.
An unforeseen challenge was how popular the session were and making sure that everyone had the time they needed for their supervision due to this the number of sessions were increased and I scheduled time for myself off the floor so that I could accommodate these.
What were the results?
The session did create a safe space and gave opportunity for staff to communicate. Due to this morale has started to improve and staff sickness has reduced. With more staff available there is also more time for them to attend supervision and staff aren’t being overworked. The sessions have improved staff communication between each other and not just when attending supervisions. They feel happier at work and can see that they are valued. Staff are even recommending these sessions to other members of the team and different teams in the prison as they feel they have been that beneficial for them.
This project is in its infancy so there have yet to be formal surveys/ questionnaires, but the general feedback that I have been getting is very positive and encouraging.
“I think it has been a fantastic idea for staff to have a place to talk and it can only be a good thing that staff feel listened to.” Kelly (ANP/ NMP)
What were the learning points?
This has shown the importance of having a physical appropriate space to complete supervision and that staff need to feel listened to. Allowing staff time to attend these sessions and reflect doesn’t take away from the service but adds to with staff felling happier at work their productivity increased. It highlighted that we needed to focus not just on outpatients health and wellbeing but our own and it really showed how we had let this slip over the pandemic.
I would like to expand the service offered and create regular sessions rather than just ad hoc, this would depend on staffing levels being able to support me coming off the floor more, the demand for the service would have to remain, the room being continually being available could also be a challenge. To make sure this as longevity I would at least keep the ad hoc sessions as a minimum if I wasn’t able to keep up regular sessions.
It also has the potential to spread to the rest of the prison services such as the primary care team and the prison staff themselves as I have had several enquiries about these sessions from all departments and staff wellbeing is a very hot topic at present so I’m sure it would be supported by all prison services.
Want to know more?
Yvette Dimes, Senior Staff Nurse, email@example.com