Senior nursing support worker Michelle’s initiative to boost staff morale has had a positive impact on wellbeing across her organisation and saw her shortlisted in the RCNi Nurse Awards 2020
Acknowledging her colleagues’ morale was at a low ebb during a period of change at the children’s hospice where she works, senior nursing support worker Michelle Milne decided to do something about it.
Michelle came up with the idea for – and implemented – Time4Teams – four sessions a year that bring staff together in a group session, during work time, and supported by her organisation, Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).
“Since I’ve worked at the hospice the needs of the children and families we support have changed and evolved,” says Michelle. “It can be an emotionally challenging environment and I think it’s so important to promote staff wellbeing – especially during this uncertain time.
"Everyone’s roles have expanded, and I felt we needed something for us. It’s not just the care team, it’s the kitchen staff, housekeeping, admin, family support staff, CHAS at home team, doctors and the senior leadership team – we all put so much into our jobs.”
Time4Teams helps foster team bonding, offering staff the opportunity to do something a bit different together. Sessions so far have included yoga, treasure hunts, coastal rowing and dancing.
So how did Michelle put Time4Teams into action? “It was a challenging time because we were having a skill-mix review and the team was growing, so I arranged a meeting to discuss my idea with the senior management team and human resources,” she explains.
“CHAS is an organisation that is very supportive of staff wellbeing and were quick to recognise the benefits Time4Teams could bring.”
Before the meeting, Michelle asked colleagues what they’d be interested in and spoke to the charge nurses to work out the frequency of the sessions.
“The hospice is open 365 days a year so we had to consider how we could do it while keeping everything running smoothly.”
The first session was a great success. “My fitness instructor – an ex-marine – did some team building and a tug of war with us. We discovered things about each other we didn’t know,” says Michelle.
“There was lots of laughter. The families from the hospice could see us and were cheering us on – it was energising and uplifting for everyone.”
Time4Teams has now been rolled out to the rest of the organisation. And despite the pandemic preventing physical meet-ups, they are currently exploring a virtual Time4Teams.
Michelle’s organisation has also had to temporarily adapt its day-to-day working due to a limit on the number of families who can be in the hospice at the same time and the types of care that have had to be prioritised during the pandemic.
Michelle explains that some of the hospice staff have been focusing on delivering their virtual hospice service which has offered families nursing, medical and pharmacy advice by phone and video, bereavement support, money and benefits advice, and practical advice around coronavirus.
“We’ve also offered a storytelling service for children at home, letter writing for children and parents, activity packs and art clubs, and virtual Clowndoctor visits which are tailored to each child,” she adds.
The bonds we’ve made have helped us navigate this tough time together
“Everyone has had to be flexible and adapt to things they wouldn’t normally do in their role such as wearing PPE for long periods of time,” Michelle adds.
“We’ve had to look out for each other now more than ever, but the bonds we’ve made through Time4Teams have helped us navigate this tough time together, as a team.”
“We are like a big family – if someone is having a bad day, we are here. I don’t think I’ve ever worked somewhere that is so supportive.”
Everyone is very passionate about Time4Teams, says Michelle. “I’m very proud to work for CHAS. I find it very humbling,” she adds.
“It’s tough and exhausting for the families and we are home from home to them. Some of them have said that as soon as they walk through the door it feels like a big load off their shoulders. It’s rewarding to be able to take some of that pressure off.”
Nursing Support Workers' Day
On 23 November, we’re celebrating the vital contribution nursing support workers like Michelle make in caring for the health of our nation on our first Nursing Support Workers' Day.