Devon Wellbeing Hub Testimonial – Intensive Care Unit at Royal Devon NHS

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Recovery and wellbeing on 6th February, 2023

Helen Baker, Clinical Nurse Manager in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, shares her experience of the support her team received from Jody Merelle, Psychotherapist at the Devon Wellbeing Hub.

Why did you contact the Devon Wellbeing Hub? What made you reach out for help?

After the first wave of COVID-19, ICU were experiencing a high turnover of staff and high burnout rates. We were seeing many experienced members of staff leaving. Many people were suffering moral injury and we all had to adapt to a new way of working.

The social distancing guidelines meant we could no longer take our breaks together, so we rarely had chance to regroup and reflect. It was particularly hard for us in ICU, as when the rules began to ease for others, we were still under strict guidelines. For example, we were unable to have Christmas parties when others could which was hard. All our social activities just couldn’t take place.

A member of senior staff from another area suggested contacting the Devon Wellbeing Hub as they had received some 1:1 sessions that they had found helpful.

How easy was it to book a workshop?

I emailed the Hub and got a reply quickly, followed by an initial conversation about the unit’s needs. I was then put in contact with Jody and we arranged three workshops.

What did your session involve? How many people took part?

We booked three sessions and had the facility to have up to 10-15 participants (We have around 100 staff). Each workshop had a mixed group of all grades and experiences. We soon realised we were all going through the same struggles.

The sessions included time to reflect professionally on the pandemic and to have space to think of ways to improve staff wellbeing and practice. The workshops also had a team building aspect to them.

Were you satisfied with the workshops?

Extremely, the feedback from our staff was resoundingly positive. I personally found them very supportive and productive. They re-energised me.

Did you feel that the Hub listened to you and tailored the workshops to support your team?

Absolutely. During initial conversations with Jody she asked what I thought would be most helpful and each session was then slightly different according to the needs of those who attended.

Have your team made any changes since the session?

Yes, we are exploring the opportunity to have ongoing wellbeing sessions for staff. We have also started to arrange more team activities outside of work. I believe the culture of our workplace has changed and that taking care of our mental health is perceived as a sign of strength and good practice.

Would you recommend the Hub to colleagues?

Yes, the support we received was amazing and massively helped. The fact it’s external support was also key. We felt in a safe space to talk about what we were going through. We could talk freely and not feel judged.

What advice would you give people who may be struggling?

That the support that is offered and advertised is for everyone and can be accessed by individuals and teams. You do not need permission from a line manager to access it. If you had to pay for this type of support privately we probably wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Any other comments about your experience?

I believe that the success of these sessions and the ongoing support that we have received has been due to Jody. Jody has been able to develop strong links with staff and fostered trusting relationships which have empowered staff to progress and develop in the workplace. We are so grateful for all the support we have gained from the Hub, I don’t think you get the recognition that you deserve.


As well as running team wellbeing workshops, Jody has also been offering 1:1 support for the ICU staff to talk through any issues they have. She said: “Clichéd as this might sound, working with the team at the ICU in Exeter has felt like a real privilege. Anyone working in health or care services has been through a challenging time through the pandemic – but this unit was literally on the front line and had to find new ways of working when no-one even knew what COVID was.

“I have really enjoyed getting to know the staff and always look forward to time spent in ICU. The unit is full of resilient, skilled and highly motivated people and the matrons have made their wellbeing a priority. This means that all staff have the opportunity to come and talk about their individual wellbeing needs and are given protected time to do this. Wellbeing has also been introduced as a topic in staff training. Such a focus on wellbeing is highly valued by the staff who feel both valued and heard as a result.

“Matrons have listened to and acted on the themes raised and the suggestions of staff have been taken seriously and implemented where possible. The ICU team are developing a new way of working with wellbeing as a focus. It is a model which I hope will be copied extensively elsewhere.”

Get in touch 

If you work in healthcare, social care or the police in Devon and lead a team who would benefit from support, please get in touch by calling 0300 303 5455 or email, mentioning ‘team support’. If you are looking for 1:1 support, you can fill out the simple referral form on the Devon Wellbeing Hub website.

If you’ve been supported by the Devon Wellbeing Hub and would like to share your experience, please get in touch with Lauren Batten, Staff Wellbeing Communications and Engagement Coordinator, at