12 February 2021

Guest blogger Shona Smith

Shona Smith has been working at Weston Hospital for nearly six years. She started in Medical Records and is now the team administrator for Safeguarding, Infection Control and Tissue Viability.

In February this year Shona became a UHBW Wellbeing Advocate. The role involves supporting her team by sharing Trust initiatives to promote psychological wellbeing and physical health.

In 2020, Above & Beyond supported a three-year wellbeing scheme at UHBWThe programme includes counselling, drop-in sessions and health checks for NHS staff, all over and above what the NHS can provide.

As well as being a Wellbeing Advocate, I am also a Freedom to Speak up Advocate. I do both roles in the hope I can help others. I have a real interest in behaviour whether that’s individual or societal and how to improve the way people feel. 

Staff wellbeing is extremely important in any sector. I think it has come to the fore in the health sector recently due to the Coronavirus. Staff need some escape, they deal with it all day in work and then go home and it’s all over the TV. It has the potential to become an overload, so having support for staff is key. Having someone neutral to talk to, sharing with colleagues - individually or in groups, distraction techniques, mindfulness, new hobbies and picking up old hobbies or whatever people need to deal with or acknowledge their feelings and frustration in a safe environment.

I have already made people smile in my office with our step counting and learning to say our names in sign language. I hope to keep the ideas coming.

With the current pandemic everyone is feeling the strain. In normal circumstances staff would be able to go home and get away from work, that’s no longer the case. Whether it's stuff on TV or restrictions we are having to live under, not having contact with friends and family the same way, not able to socialise to have fun and take your mind off things, the difficulties are just always there, for all of us. So it’s extremely important to look after staff and each other.

Staff who deal directly with patients are seeing more death than ever before, particularly mortuary staff, who are usually hidden away and could easily be forgotten. Dealing with grief is such a difficult thing and with the increasing deaths in people’s personal and professional lives needs to be considered. 

Staff should to be encouraged to step away from work to get some breathing space or seek help if needed. Whether that’s just a single meet with someone to get things off their chest, or a more structured counselling session.

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