How we keep going: staff wellbeing during the coronavirus

06 July 2020

There has never been a challenge for staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ like working through the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic continues, supporting our staff is crucial.

Lady in medical clothing and face mask, in front of table with refreshments
Louise Anderson, Resident Pharmacist, at one of our wellbeing zones.

From clinical staff like the doctors and nurses, to the porters and housekeeping staff - everyone is going above and beyond, working under extraordinary circumstances.

A place to unwind and reset

We need to ensure that our extraordinary teams of professionals have space to check in with their physical and mental wellbeing and to decompress after a tough shift. A calming space between work and home. Thanks to your generous support, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and Trust opened six staff wellbeing zones across its hospital and community sites in April 2020.

What’s available in the wellbeing zones

The zones are drop-in spaces in our hospitals and community sites, which staff can visit at their convenience to access psychological support, seek advice for uncertain situations or simply take a comfort break. Thanks to your support, we now have over 200 trained members of staff who can provide mental health first aid and pop-up coaching sessions or an informal, supportive chats.

Staff can also access information and resources about managing stress and sleeping well, use a massage chair or simply take a quiet moment to recharge and enjoy free tea, coffee, snacks and fruit. Of course, not all staff are working on site during the pandemic, so we have ensured that staff who are shielding or working remotely can access virtual wellbeing advice, and online pop-up coaching too.

Since opening we’ve had over 6000 visits to the zones, demonstrating how essential and value they are.

Table and chairs by a television, with colouring pens and crayons and paper
Mindfulness colouring in area. Photo Sam Alner

What the wellbeing zones mean to staff

Having spaces dedicated to wellbeing is already having a positive impact for staff who are providing services, as well as receiving them. Valerie Boso, who has been redeployed to help provide support in the wellbeing zones, says:

‘I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the rest and recharge area at St Thomas’. Staff are blown away when they see the zone for the first time, and what’s on offer for them. An absolutely well needed service for our staff all over the Trust.’

Dr Laura Madeley, Lead Clinical Psychologist for the, Complex Sleep Disorders Service has been involved in managing the zones and providing one-to-one support for staff. Reflecting on the feedback from staff so far, she says:

‘Staff have really valued the wellbeing zones. In my conversations with those attending, staff have appreciated having space to rest and relax off the ward, having something tangible, and having the emotional labour of their work recognised. The zones meet physical needs and give staff permission to think about their own wellbeing.’

Staff’s wellbeing needs are as diverse as they are. From soothing aches and pains through massage therapies, to taking some down time or seeking emotional support - here’s what visitors to wellbeing zones have said:

‘Having the heat lamp on my lower back enabled me to have a better night’s sleep and to feel more relaxed - so thank you.’
‘A fantastic place to chill and zone out from a nurse’s busy day! Highly recommend it to my colleagues.’
‘In a time like this, it’s the little things that matter greatly, and this is a perfect 15 minutes breather. From the massages and aromatherapy to the free snacks and coffee - it all means a great deal!’
‘Thank you so much for providing a safe space to talk and relax. It’s my first time here, and I’ll be back.’

Keeping them going

Your donations have helped create these special areas for our staff - and we want to keep providing wellbeing support, beyond the ongoing pandemic.

But this is not a short term idea, the new wellbeing zones are part of the overall GSTT Wellbeing strategy. ‘As the hospitals adjust to a new normal, wanting to ensure support for staff, and that their wellbeing is a priority will enable them to continue to provide first-class care to all patients.’

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