Sarah Warrington, Preceptorship Lead, is the coordinator of the preceptorship programme for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT). The Devon Wellbeing Hub have been involved in giving wellbeing talks as part of the programme since September 2022 and so far, Jody Merelle, Psychotherapist at the Hub, has delivered ten in-person and two online sessions. We spoke to Sarah about why she reached out for support, what the sessions involve and the positive impact they’ve had.
Why did you contact the Devon Wellbeing Hub? What made you reach out for help?
My job as Preceptorship Lead involves setting up the preceptorship programme, organising speakers, and supporting preceptees. Preceptees are newly qualified practitioners at band 4 and above, those who are returning to practice, those who have had a change in sector such as from primary care to acute care and anyone who has been internationally trained and starting employment at TSDFT. The preceptorship period lasts one year and during this time they are supported by experienced staff to gain confidence and competence. Preceptorship at TSDFT includes all nursing roles, midwifery and all allied health professionals.
We hold five facilitated sessions throughout the year for preceptees. The sessions are not clinical, but instead focus on human factors, soft skills, health and wellbeing and life-long learning. One of the main pieces of feedback from the preceptees is that people are feeling burnt-out. We know that there are clinical pressures and unfortunately sometimes support can reduce the busier things get. Morale is low and we need to emphasise the importance of health and wellbeing.
After meeting with the retention midwives’ team at Torbay, they mentioned they had been running wellbeing workshops with Jody and recommended I get in touch.
How easy was it to book a workshop?
I contacted Jody and explained how the preceptorship programme ran. I gave a bit of background and explained that we need to be reflective and respond to feedback from the preceptees in order to offer a programme that meets the needs of the current workforce. The booking process has been seamless. Jody has always accommodated to our needs, even when we’ve had to cancel at short notice.
What do your sessions involve?
Currently all our sessions are held at Torbay Hospital and are face-to-face as this again was highlighted as more desirable than online, which had been the case during COVID. The sessions initially ran for an hour, but we have now extended this by half an hour so participants have more time for discussion. We have a maximum of 12 people in a group to make sure there’s time for everyone to be heard.
The sessions focus on self-care and coping strategies, including how to deal with things like burnout and work pressures. Jody usually starts with a question: “what is wellbeing to you and what does it look like?” She covers top tips and the importance of making time for yourself and having things to look forward to.
Jody is really open and honest about her own life and career. She’s really great at reading the room and following group dynamics. She asks if anyone would be willing to share how they are feeling and then asks them to write down what’s going well and what would the future would look like if their wellbeing felt better.
Have you had positive feedback from the sessions?
Yes, really excellent! Jody’s sessions have been a great addition to the programme and people want it to continue. The preceptees have given excellent feedback in terms of Jody’s personal manner and demeanour, as well as the content of the sessions. People have said how nice it is to be given that time and space to reflect when work is constant. They don’t often get that time for somebody to ask “how are you?” and to really mean it and listen to their response. The fact it is external support as well has been valuable as people feel they are able to talk openly.
Here are just some of the comments from preceptees:
“I found this session to be really interesting and useful. The wellbeing and coping strategies and advice that I’ve gained from this have helped improve my ability to balance my work and personal life, which in turn have benefited my physical and mental health. I believe that services like the Devon Wellbeing Hub have a significant role in making sure that our workforce have the appropriate resources and support, particularly those who are new to the Trust, to help bolster our recruitment and retention of staff. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to attend this session and I thank Jody for delivering with such great passion and useful information.”
“I remember this session giving me the hope to keep on working without fear. As an international nurse, it's hard to leave your family behind and start working in a new environment with different people and cultures for a common goal. Having no family around, the wellbeing session was a saviour as it exposed me to so many coping strategies to deal with loneliness and work stress. Since then, my confidence has increased and I feel secure in my work and life balance. Knowing who I am from her session, I’ve been able to acknowledge my weaknesses and develop strategies to overcome it. I believe this service has been beneficial to my other colleagues too. Thank you.”
What would the impact have been without the support from the Hub?
It’s hard to know for sure, but there’s real longevity to it. The impact might not be immediate but it raises awareness of the support that’s available. Even if they don’t need it now, it may benefit them or a colleague in the future. For some people, just being listened to that one afternoon might be sufficient. They may not need or want to make ‘changes’, but just being able to share and make the time for their wellbeing it sometimes more than enough.
This session is marked as one of the most popular in the evaluation at the end of the preceptorship programme. Participants reiterate that it was so nice to have the whole day focused on them. The fact they feel supported and listened to is absolutely key.
Would you recommend the Hub to colleagues?
Absolutely. My experience is purely based on sessions with Jody so can’t say much beyond that, but I would feel confident signposting to the Hub. I always tell people our sessions are just an introduction but to get in touch for more 1:1 support.
Now more than ever, it’s so important we support our staff. Retention and recruitment are currently a big issue. I know it’s sometimes difficult to let people off the ward and attend the sessions, but it’s such a short amount of time and the long-term benefits are so valuable.
Jody said: “I have loved having the opportunity to engage with the preceptees who have brought a whole range of experience to the sessions I have had with them. We are lucky to have them working with us in the NHS.
“It is always challenging taking up a new role in a new Trust and sometimes also in a new country. Sarah has been exceptional in putting together a program of education and support which runs across several months and gives preceptees a chance to find out about the Trust and also think about their own wellbeing and how to safeguard it moving forwards. I hope that the sessions I have been involved with have opened up some new ideas to them about how they can make sure they are looking after themselves amidst all the challenges of life both within the NHS and in their personal lives.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com