NHS Staff Well-Being Series Part 1 - Five Top Tips for Effective Self Care

As Health care professionals, we all should know that we cannot deliver optimum care to our patients without firstly looking after ourselves. We hear it in the emergency situation : "Risk assess the situation before helping others!" - Have you done this before your shift today?

This is the first part of three separate blog posts that will form our well-being series. The NMC & GMC both require that NHS staff declare themselves to be 'fit to practice' without restriction. This of course not only means in terms of their competence, but in terms of their 'wellness'. Quite simply, if you are not well enough to practice....your practice may not be safe.

Despite this, 68% of NHS staff in England report having recently attended work despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties (NHS staff survey, 2013). As such, we feel that it will be important for the safety and quality of patient care, that we address self care and well being issues for NHS staff. 

Tip 1: Take time out. This may sound like a luxury, but in fact this will be essential for you to practice safely. You will need a 'fresh eyes' approach to the care you are providing, therefore a break will enable you to clarify your thoughts. You may make bad decisions when you are tired....You will also be more prone to making a medical error. Resting is not an optional extra.

Tip 2: Eat Clean. Healthy staff make for healthy patients. You can feel better, move easier and be the good example by eating clean. This may not be helped by the amount of junk food we know is all around us, so why not be kind to yourself and bring lunch with you. Don't have time?...This may be one more hint that you are not caring enough for yourself or prioritizing your well being.

Tip 3: Move more. Walk, run, skip, hop jump. Movement will not only make you healthier in the long term, it will boost your thinking in the short term and therefore make you a better decision maker and advocate for those in your care.

Tip 4: Be Mindful. Heard of mindfulness? Well this is by no means a comprehensive course. However, just by noticing the nature around you on a 'fresh air' walk can ground you, put things in perspective and help you to live in the moment. This is not only emotionally good for you, but it will also allow you to clarify your thinking if practiced regularly.

Tip 5: Notice your thoughts. We know that working in the healthcare environment can be stressful. You may feel unable to cope, overwhelmed and despondent. Recognize those feelings. Acknowledge them, and if you can...just let them pass. If you are feeling overwhelmed by these feelings, it is essential to speak out and ask for help. Your well being is important. You are important.

Be kind to yourself. You have a duty of care, and this includes looking after yourself.

Talk to us about how we can help your staff to recognize ill health in themselves and others at work.... We value the #StaffExperience

Posted on July 28, 2015 .