In the UK, the children’s hospice sector has become increasingly concerned about levels of work-related stress among its staff. This stems from increasing evidence that staff wellbeing is associated with the quality, cost and safety of patient care, and also an acknowledgment of the important role of those working in children’s hospices. It is therefore important to review and develop systems to enhance staff wellbeing and reduce the risk of occupational burnout.
The SWiCH study, conducted by the Martin House Research Centre at the University of York, is a national survey of staff wellbeing in UK children’s hospices. It aims to increase understanding about the work-related stressors and rewards experienced by children’s hospice care staff, and to identify the staff support systems and organisational practices that offer the most potential to enhance wellbeing at work.
This paper will present findings from the first phase of this ongoing study. This consists of two elements. The first is a systematic review aimed at identifying the factors associated with the psychological work-related wellbeing of hospice staff, and reviewing evidence on levels of burnout amongst hospice staff. Literature searches have identified 86 international studies that have explored this in hospice settings. The second element is the development and validation of a new tool to measure work-related stressors and rewards in children’s hospice staff. This involves adapting existing scales developed for use in paediatric oncology through surveys, focus groups and interviews with staff in six children’s hospices.
Findings from this first phase will inform the development of a national survey of all UK children’s hospice organisations and their care staff.
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