How we keep going: staff wellbeing during the coronavirus

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 support, the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and Trust has funded six wellbeing zones across the Trust, which opened in April 2020.

Exercise bike, a sign saying Wellbeing Zones for Staff, and an electric massage chair
Rest and exercise areas for our wellbeing zones. Photo Sam Alner

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 are able to provide mental health first aid and pop-up coaching sessions or an informal, supportive chat.

In the zones, staff can also access resources to help them manage their wellbeing, use a massage chair or simply take a quiet moment to recharge whilst enjoying free drinks.

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 6,000 visits to the zones, demonstrating how essential and valued 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’ Hospital. 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. Themes arising from my conversations with those attending have been an appreciation of space to rest and relax off the ward, having something tangible, recognition of the emotional labour of the work as well and having physical needs met, and being given 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 pandemic.

But this is not a short term idea, the new wellbeing zones are part of the overall Guy’s and St Thomas’ Wellbeing strategy. As the hospitals adjust to a new normal, ensuring 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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