Working on ward worries

27 Aug 2019

Hospitals can be stressful environments – and not just for patients. The staff who work on the wards have a great deal of urgent, important and emotionally demanding responsibilities.

Unexpected diagnoses, final moments, worried friends and families… even in a perfect system, working in healthcare would still be challenging at times. This means that it can be difficult to give each patient the individual care and attention that the staff want to give.

That’s why we are funding a programme at Newham Hospital to teach staff how to deal with the everyday stresses of working on the ward and create a positive working environment.

The programme – Performing Medicine – has professional theatre practitioners guiding the staff through a range of physical exercises. These are designed to help staff by teaching them tips for self-care and making them aware of how their body language can affect the atmosphere on the ward.

One of the staff on the course said, “I’ve learned that very subtle changes in the way I stand walk or move have a big impact on how other people perceive me, and it made me realise the things I need to change. I think the workshop was a very helpful tool for me to reflect on my past experiences and I will be able to deal with future challenges with confidence.”

Research shows that the wellbeing of a staff member affects the outcome and experience of their patient. Instead of thinking of care as something that flows in one direction, from professional to patient, Performing Medicine courses teach staff to imagine it as a circle, with care flowing in all directions – including self-care. Staff need to look out for each other and concentrate on their own wellbeing in order to give the best care to their patients.

“I’ve learned to step back and take a deep breath when I’m tired or stressed, because if I go out there and try to deliver care whilst I myself am depleted, it will affect the quality of care I give and interactions I have with other people will not work,” says another member of staff.

Over 10 weeks, groups of up to 15 staff have taken part in the engaging activities, ensuring that nearly all staff on six participating wards have had the chance to experience the programme. While pressures can never be entirely eliminated, the participants report that they feel more prepared and teams are able to build stronger working relationships.

“It made me realise the importance of making sure we look after ourselves so we can care better for our patients,” said Heather Ward manager, Ola Banjoko (pictured left, bottom right image).

More news