Background Working with death and dying can lead to heightened risk of burnout and stress for the workforce (staff and volunteers), and increased difficulty with personal bereavement (Goodrich, Harrison & Cornwell, 2015; Hill, Dempster, Donnelly et al., 2016; Huggard & Nichols, 2011). Informed by our 2016/17 staff survey, person-centred care observational studies (Haraldsdottir, Donaldson, Barclay et al., 2018; St Columba’s Hospice, 2015) and drawing on the skills of the workforce, and literature (Goodrich, Harrison & Cornwell, 2015; Tsiris, Davis & San, 2014) we looked at health and wellbeing from emotional safety perspective (Huggard & Nichols, 2011), in order to establish an evidence based holistic approach tailored to St Columba’s Hospice.
Aims To scope the organisation’s existing support systems, to encourage self-care across the workforce, and to explore new ways to improve health and wellbeing at work across the organisation.
Methods We mapped our existing support systems, initiatives, and policies/procedures, categorising them into: meaningful work; feeling valued; living healthy lives; maintaining healthy?minds; and, hospitable working environment. We held a workforce awareness campaign, invited feedback/ideas, and established a short term working group. Gaps in current practice and policy were identified and an action plan developed.
Results We learnt that most staff were unaware of what was already in place, and many had not considered some areas relevant to their health and wellbeing at work. The organisation made changes across each category, encouraged the workforce to take personal responsibility and ensured that the hospice operated with integrity through prioritising emotional safety and adjusting policies and entitlements. The process has encouraged organisational change in terms of becoming a more compassionate employer (ACAS, 2014; National Council for Palliative Care, 2014), empowered staff to establish a subsidised weekly yoga class, and supported the founding of a volunteer-led hospice choir.
Conclusion There are particular challenges for hospice care in establishing emotional safety throughout the organisational structure, support systems and within available resources. However, it is possible to operate with integrity, enable the workforce to have longevity and encourage maintenance of good health and wellbeing in hospice care.
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