Background to learning
The coronavirus pandemic has meant nursing and midwifery staff having to work in some new ways and across a variety of settings including primary, secondary and community care which may be unfamiliar to them or outside of their usual scope of practice. Responding to COVID-19 has often required rapid changes in order to meet demand, while ensuring the care we provide continues to be of high quality. This case study focuses on how support may be offered when rapid redeployment of the workforce is needed and how nurses and midwives at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust have approached this challenge.
Learning and advice to be shared
Recognising the need to support colleagues working in different nursing teams, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust established regular ‘team huddles’ to give staff an opportunity to share and discuss any anxieties they may have regarding moves into what may be unfamiliar roles.
In the trust, colleagues were offered support from health and wellbeing services as well as training, education and support to ensure they had the skills needed to perform their new roles. A large canteen (usually for the public) has been transformed into a chill out/reflective zone and a #howareyoudoing hub offers a great place to get health and wellbeing resources (counselling/phone apps/support groups). Wellbeing boards on every ward allow staff to shout outs to colleagues at the end of every shift.
Challenges around rapid deployment were widely recognised by members of the CNO national Shared Professional Decision-Making Council. The Council noted the steep learning curve that rapid redeployment could often bring and the potential for this to be a source of anxiety for some staff. Members highlighted a range of similar local approaches implemented to support colleagues:
- Using approaches such as de-briefs after each shift were noted to support and help improve integration of teams allaying fears along the way.
- Redeployment ‘buddies’ who could help mitigate any feelings of isolation when working in unfamiliar areas were seen as positive and helped improve the experience of both staff and patients.
Council members noted the importance of organisations checking in with staff regularly on wellbeing and appreciated timely and transparent communication in variety of formats including face-to-face from line managers alongside trust wide communications.
Good practice was also noted in systematic approaches to new local induction processes for staff joining during the pandemic and in the role of senior nursing and midwifery colleagues in supporting transitions of more junior staff.
Would it be beneficial to retain these changes?
These changes have been introduced during a time of uncertainty and it is clear that staff have welcomed a structured approach to redeployment that is enhanced by a strong health and wellbeing support offer.
Approaches like these will continue to be useful during the pandemic response and restoration of services. Supporting staff to move flexibly, safely and confidently between roles if requested to do so as was necessary during the pandemic is central to maintaining wellbeing and the delivery of optimal patient care.
As part of this work some staff also discovered new opportunities as a result of temporary moves between roles during the pandemic and these thoughtful deployment approaches could encourage and give confidence to more staff wanting to step in and try new roles.
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