University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust share their successes of Time to Change

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust employs approx. 10,000 staff and aspires to be an employer of choice; recognising an important aspect in achieving this is the promotion and maintenance of positive psychological wellbeing of the entire workforce.

Promotion of mental and emotional wellbeing is becoming increasingly embedded into Trust policies and practices concerned with managing people, including those related to employment rights, health and safety and working conditions, so the Time to Change Employer Pledge made a lot of sense.

For UHB, the employer pledge forms part of a wider commitment to provide the best possible opportunities for colleagues to sustain or improve their overall health and wellbeing. The Trust is dedicated to offering services and support mechanisms for both managers and individuals which includes raising awareness and offering a package of support options concerning a range of mental health and wellbeing resources.

The Trust seeks to adopt an organisation-wide approach; working in partnership with colleagues taking account of the multiplicity of roles and characteristics of the organisation. This promotes a culture of participation, equality and fairness based on open communication and inclusion. 

Claire Haley, Workplace Wellbeing Lead commented:

"The biggest success we can boast since signing the pledge last year is the appointment of a new Workplace Psychological Wellbeing Lead with a primary focus on the planning, delivery and evaluation of mental health initiatives"

She said the Trust is now able to

"Engage stakeholders connected with psychological wellbeing services and interventions within the organisation, evaluate sickness absense data to evaluate hot-spot areas, review staff engagement, benchmark existing psychological provision against best practise, and identify key issues to address with deliverable actions."

A standard Time to Change recommendation is to recruit and train Employee Champions. To date, UHB has enlisted 120 Workplace Wellbeing Advocates comprising multi-disciplinary colleagues.  Claire says that this growing network is bridging the gap to communicate the wellbeing strategy to hard-to-reach colleagues and to act as a local point-of-contact for flagging issues and making suggestions – which can then be fed back to the leadership team as appropriate.

The wellbeing advocates have been offered a mix of in-house and externally delivered training opportunities which include Mental Health First Aid Training and the condensed ‘Getting the Balance Back’ provided by Bristol Wellbeing Therapies (IAPT Service).

The Trust is in the process of designing a Workplace Wellbeing Workshop for Line Managers with a sustainable model for delivery. 

"This will focus primarily on developing Manager’s knowledge around mental health, and developing confidence in spotting signs, having conversations, and knowing how and where to signpost staff to access appropriate support." 

Another core priority for the Trust is to develop a single, central source of bespoke information and guidance materials for individual to act as a quick resource when required.  Topics will cover depression, anxiety, controlling anger and bereavement among other common mental health considerations.

In addition, a new staff ‘resilience’ session is to be created using CBT principals to educate and support self-awareness and strategies for supporting one's own wellbeing.

As an NHS Trust, Claire cites lack of budget as a containing factor in the provision of new and purposeful services and interventions that could provide positive change in order to meet corporate, local and national objectives. At present, she says the range of psychological support is inconsistent across the organisation, but steps are being taken to ensure future training and resources are equitable and sustainable.

“There is an ethical, legal and financial need to examine and support staff wellbeing. Wellbeing relates to all of us and our abilities to enjoy and succeed in the work we do; and must be viewed as a necessity not a luxury.”