In this blog, Claire Haley, workplace wellbeing lead and Lyn Harvey, head of health and safety at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol), share examples of their joint working initiatives and talk about how these positively impact and boost their overall offer to colleagues, managers and the organisation as a whole.
We both agree that establishing a collaborative working relationship in a large multisite trust can be a tricky business. Whilst we all endeavor to pool our knowledge and share resources with local stakeholders, it’s fair to say that our action-packed agendas and time constraints can make forging strong links, a bit of a challenge.
At UH Bristol, we have brought together a range of specialists to shape the wellbeing services and interventions we are able to make available to colleagues. As is commonplace amongst most NHS trusts, close links are maintained with leads of both psychological and physical health and wellbeing provision, to ensure our workplace wellbeing agenda is aligned to local and national requirements and best practice. In addition to this Claire takes the first part of our health and safety training for managers so she can talk to them about the trust's approach to wellbeing and how and where they can access the right support.
So, why did our trust decide to link safety to wellbeing? The partnership approach adopted between our workplace wellbeing and health and safety teams are particularly fruitful and one that we believe could be easily adopted by others. As well as being well informed on each other’s priorities, our two teams contribute to numerous initiatives.
Lyn is an active participant in the workplace wellbeing steering group sharing meeting notes and the action log with the wider team for interest and action, where appropriate. This ensures that we both deliver a more holistic approach within our respective domains. An example of this recently was when one of our midwives who was experiencing musculoskeletal issues was signposted to wellbeing provision within the occupational health physio direct service including free access to the getUbetter pain recovery app, in addition to receiving direct manual handling support.
Claire is chair of the smoke free working group and author of the smoke free policy. This work is guided by safety colleagues and fortnightly we undertake smoke free walk rounds of the estate, plan the removal of shelters, identify and procure external signage and tannoy systems and jointly respond to complaints. Part of the safety budget is used to fund the physical environment requirements affecting smoke free status.
Lyn is author of the work-related stress policy and oversees internal Health Safety Executive stress risk audits. This programme of work helps to mitigate risks, and, support efforts to improve our organisations staff survey responses related to work related stress. Members of the manual handling team are flu vaccinators and support our annual campaign by acting as mobile vaccinators to make sure that all colleagues have access to their flu vaccine if they can’t make it to a clinic.
We have also developed the innovative buzzer challenge which helps colleagues who work primarily at desks, to make regular changes to their posture, moving away from their workstation and sedentary behaviour. A digital timer is set for 50 minutes and when it sounds, colleagues complete a change of activity for one to two minutes, including simple stretches or exercises, we find this particularly impactful when the whole team joins in.
Our working during pregnancy workshop helps colleagues remain happy and healthy during pregnancy. A range of professionals from across the trust contribute to the programme giving advice on psychological wellbeing, physiotherapy, occupational health and reasonable adjustments, HR policies, maternity entitlements and childcare support options. A member of the safety team checks that a risk assessment for pregnant workers has been undertaken and is available during the workshop to answer any queries.
We recommend you follow these top tips if you are considering introducing joint working between safety and wellbeing colleagues in your organisation:
- As a starting point, fuse a team meeting where all members can meet each other to gain a greater understanding of the primary role, current offer and key priorities of both provisions. This will allow you to identify common objectives and opportunities to share resources and expertise.
- Leads can develop an ongoing working relationship via attendance at the most relevant forum e.g. safety committee, wellbeing group.
- Remember: safety isn’t solely about the environment or activity, it includes people. Taking a holistic view to promote awareness of safety and wellbeing services and interventions in daily practice and interactions with colleagues is hugely beneficial to the individual and organisation in terms of staff experience and engagement.
If you would like to talk to us about our approach, please call on 0117 342 22113 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about health safety and wellbeing take a look at the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership groups web pages.