The importance of offloading and mental wellbeing support at work: experience from our Health Trainers

Published: 03 June 2020

We understand that the current COVID-19 crisis can cause anxiety and worries for our staff members, particularly those who are working on the front line and also those who are self-isolating.

Because of this, we have put a great deal of effort into enhancing our staff support initiatives and mental health and wellbeing provision. You can find a great overview of this on our Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub on the intranet.

However, one of the most prevalent methodologies we have turned to during this time, is the importance of offloading and having a safe space to share your concerns. While we hope that all teams have introduced these effective methods into their daily routines, we recently spoke with Kayleigh Barrington, from Health Trainers, who told us all about what offloading is, why it’s central to supporting staff wellbeing, and how their team are enhancing their ways of working in this direction.

Offloading is a way to ensure all of your queries and concerns are tackled before leaving work; to make sure you are not carrying your worries home with you and thinking about work all of the time. It’s important to ensure that some element of work/life balanced is maintained, even during understandably busy times.

The Health Trainers team have really utilised technology at this time, particularly the use of Skype. This not only enables us to stay in touch with those isolating or working remotely, but it also has helped us set up some vital offloading activities into our daily routines.

We have a daily Skype session which allows us to discuss any updates, new guidance or strategies and also gives our staff an opportunity to bring up any questions or concerns they have that day. Our smaller community teams, who might not see many of the team in clinical settings, are also setting aside 15 minutes per day to have a cup of tea and a Skype to catch up and check in with each other.

What has been a really fun addition to the team is the introduction of daily staff workouts. They’re not too intense, but they’re designed to keep our bodies moving during a time we may be doing a lot of sitting at desks. We have video call workouts on Skype and encourage our teams to take daily walks during our lunch breaks – where the only rule is that you cannot talk about work. Oh, and to social distance when walking with your colleagues, of course!

In addition to this, our managers have reinforced the notion that it’s more important than ever to take your lunch break, and have made it a ‘rule’ of sorts that this is something you need to do every day for one hour. It’s important that our staff have a break throughout the day, to switch off, get some fresh air and get away from their computer or mobile phone.

As a team, we acknowledge that the work we are doing is intense. We take call after call, speaking with many of our service users, who are quite often in heavy and emotionally draining circumstances. We know that this can take a toll.

It’s crucial our staff take their breaks, to refresh, recharge and breathe. We want to ensure they have some positive conversations throughout their day, and know that they have a team of supportive colleagues around them should they need to offload. To support this even further, we have implemented fortnightly supervisions for staff wellbeing. This is a catch up with everyone in the team on a 1:1 basis, to discuss their workload and pressures, to check in with how they are doing and most importantly, to ensure they are also coping well outside of work.

At the end of the day, there are only so many measures you can put in place during this extremely busy time. The most important thing is to make sure your team know that you are open to talk. We remind our team daily that their managers welcome a chat, and we aim to be honest in our updates. We believe this shows our staff that we are acknowledging their anxieties, taking on board their concerns and being understanding and empathetic during these uncertain circumstances.

We are exceptionally proud of how resilient and adaptable our team have been throughout this time and we have learned a lot! We will be carrying a lot of these learnings forward into our practice, even after the Coronavirus outbreak is over.

We would like to take this opportunity to also send a huge thank you to our staff, all across the Trust, for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the NHS during these challenging times. Thank you!

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