New rest and relaxation area.(Photo courtesy of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust)

North Tees and Hartlepool, UK

NHS Foundation Trust

This case study demonstrated the importance of giving staff a space to be together, outside their work environment, to reduce stress and to rebuild some of the usual social interactions. This was initially achieved through use of a donated ‘tour bus’, complete with coffee stations, rest areas and choice of ambient music. This facility was reportedly very popular – particularly with those working in the COVID-19 hot zones – and the principle has been extended in the second wave of the pandemic with the creation of dedicated social and relaxation spaces for nurses and doctors, where they can continue to meet in a socially distanced environment. To avoid the workforce having to eat in their office space, or off site, hospital restaurant areas were transformed, with one-way systems and greater spacing between tables and seats.

Senior management in this hospital took every opportunity to build a sense of solidarity and togetherness – between staff, between staff and the public, and between the organisation and the families of staff – through targeted communications such as letters to the children of staff (stressing the importance of their parents’ work and how they are kept safe) and weekly newsletters reporting on progress with the projects that aimed to restore some kind of normality.

Across many of the case studies, there has been a rapid, almost explosive growth in the use of videoconferencing for meetings and telehealth technologies for clinical interaction with patients. While most case studies reported that these were vital short-term mechanisms to bridge the gaps in communication between staff, and between staff and patients, they also reflected that in some cases they simply do not compensate adequately for lack of direct contact – social, clinical and physical.

Find out more information

Find here more material on the webinar recording for this case and the additional material shared during the presentation.