South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is marking the two year anniversary this December for the ‘Staying Well Service’ for staff. Here at the ambulance service, our staff are regularly exposed to traumatic incidents by the very nature of the emergency life-saving work they do.
The Staying Well Service has proved a huge success, providing support and welfare for the 5,000 staff employed by the ambulance service. Many staff visit the Staying Well Service for social emotional or work-related issues. Around one third of the referrals received have been for physiotherapy.
Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, said; “On the second anniversary of this important service, I am really pleased to announce that work has begun on establishing a new partnership with Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT) to enhance the work of the team and to provide greater resilience for our Staying Well Service. In addition, DPT will be contacting colleagues in other Mental Health Partnership Trusts across the South West to join the partnership. We hope this will enable us to help recognise and act swiftly to support our colleagues before they get into crisis.“
The Staying Well Service (SWS) is provided in addition to the various support mechanisms already available to staff (like debriefings following challenging incidents for example). They can access this facility for problems and issues stemming from their personal life as well as situations occurring at work which are adversely affecting them.
Anyone accessing the SWS can be assured that their situation will be dealt with sensitively and in the strictest confidence. Accessible via phone or email, the service has been designed to meet the challenges associated with delivering a range of emergency and urgent care services on a 24-hour basis across an area spanning a fifth of England.
The Trust employs around 5000 staff and it is important that each and every individual has a range of help and support services available to them when they need it. Stress, anxiety, financial concerns, drug or alcohol problems, physical injuries and domestic violence are some of the triggers for people to get in touch with the trained professionals staffing the service.
Callers may be signposted to occupational health, physiotherapy or specialist counselling services. The Trust is also receiving invaluable support from organisations like PTSD UK, Mind, Red Poppy, the Samaritans and a number of safeguarding boards.
As well as acting as a support service for those already in need of support, the purpose of this initiative, which combines the skills of safeguarding, HR and clinical professionals, is also designed to be a proactive service encouraging people to ‘stay well’.
Dr Andy Smith, SWASFT Executive Medical Director, said; “We take the health and wellbeing of our workforce extremely seriously. Our staff are our greatest and most valuable part of our service. We could not deliver our services without them and we invest a great deal in making sure our staff are safe and supported.
The nature of their work means they are much more likely to encounter challenging and distressing situations than people in other occupations and we need to ensure that we provide them with a comprehensive range of support mechanisms.
“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our supporters, including the Samaritans and PTSD UK. The expertise and support they provide us is invaluable and no doubt make a real difference to individuals who need to access the services on offer. Our staff carry out a fantastic job in serving their local communities.”
Below are some SWASFT initiatives that support clinicians and paramedics crews with their stressful frontline jobs:
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