27 April 2021

Guest blogger: Callum McCourt

Last year Above & Beyond supported a three-year wellbeing programme available to every member of staff at UHBW.

As part of the programme, more than 250 Wellbeing Advocates have been recruited across all areas of the Trust. 

Here Callum McCourt, Business Analyst for Trust Services, answers our questions about the role.

I work as a Business Analyst for the development team in IM&T. Originally from Jersey I moved to Swansea for university and then lived in Cardiff for a few years before finally moving to Bristol. 

Regarding my role at UHBW, my main duties are to support the Trust's bespoke system requests from the initial feasibility review, through definition of requirements, to delivery and review at the end of the project. To do this I am required to meet with staff to map out processes, capture requirements, put together project documentation, and ensure that all testing, handover, and support is in place for when we go-live. In its simplest form I am the "translator" between the technical teams who create the systems and the non-technical users who request/use them, then the dogs body who tries do everything else bar the actual development work throughout the whole project lifecycle.

Why did you sign up for the Wellbeing Advocate role?

I signed up to be a Wellbeing Advocate as I have always felt passionately about both mental and physical wellbeing. I have seen first-hand what both good and bad wellbeing can lead to and am very pleased that our Trust takes this issue seriously. I think this is even more important in the NHS as our staff will sometimes (or most of the time) put the needs of their patients above their own; this then puts even more value into a service which looks after them in turn. Finally it is also nice to network with colleagues that feel similarly about the value of good workplace wellbeing and it's great to hear all the great ideas that come out of those meetings.

Why do you think staff wellbeing is important?

I think that people sometimes forget just how much time we spend in our work environment and how much this can impact our life in general (good and bad). Due to this I think that it is imperative that we have an enjoyable and satisfying workplace which we want to come into. I also think that both mental and physical wellbeing is the foundation required for a healthy life, but is very easy to take for granted and slip into bad habits with - which I am sure we have all done over lockdown, I know I have!

What do you get back from being a Wellbeing Advocate?

I find that most staff in the NHS have a certain world view which is centred around understanding and caring for each other. Whilst this is easy for clinical staff to achieve it is sometimes harder to get the same level of satisfaction in a non-clinical setting. I find that fulfilling this role allows me to care for the staff as much as they care for their patients, and I find it very satisfying that colleges know that they can come to me with their questions/concerns around both mental and physical wellbeing--similar to my other role as a Freedom to Speak-up advocate. 

Have you had any positive feedback from other staff members on the role? What has the reaction been?

I think the very fact that staff members now come to me with questions regarding their wellbeing is enough for me. I always think that people vote with their time (so to speak) and the fact that staff are willing to come to me with these problems evidences the value in this role--however strange these requests may be!

What difference will the wellbeing programme, supported by Above & Beyond, make?

Hopefully this will add some stability to some of the more value adding projects that may benefit from having longer term funding. This will allow consistency with how these offers are run and ensures staff that their wellbeing is being considered and invested in. It will also allow projects that were historically deemed unfeasible due to cost to be reconsidered with the range of offers to staff increasing as a result.

Why do you think this programme of support is especially important now?

I do not think the value can be underestimated at this time, specifically for clinical staff. During this pandemic the UK has asked a gargantuan amount from their staff who have selflessly delivered time and again. However, just like the tide against the rocks, these staff are still human and the stress of this year most be taking its toll on them. With the high level or mortality (compared to previous years), the toll of wearing PPE, the unique situations that need managing (such as how a loved one would say goodbye etc.) and the countless other stresses, the Trusts staff need supporting now more than ever. After asking so much how could we not give back something in return. 

I would like to add that some staff find wellbeing a lot easier to deal with than others. Some find it easy to talk about their issues, to try new things, and to support each other but this is not everyone. I do worry for the more introverted of our staff who may be dealing with some tough issues at home or at work and are not receiving the support that they need. If anyone who is reading this knows of anyone like this then please remind them of what great offers are available to them (and to all staff), as just letting them have visibility of what is on offer to them could make a big difference.

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