We introduced a mental wellness course as part of our Feel the Difference Development Programme for all our colleagues to help improve their wellbeing by using positive psychology. MindCoach, as it is known, helps support people’s mind set and resilience to facilitate colleagues bringing their best selves to work every day to help reduce stress and sickness absence.

Virgin has always believed in investing in training, disrupting business for good and doing away with the status quo – and that’s true of Virgin Care too.  We rely on our people to allow us to transform the services we run to be more efficient, to deliver improved experiences for patients and cope with ever-increasing demand.

As all NHS providers face increased pressures to recruit and retain staff as well as reduce stress in the workplace, Virgin Care is investing in training and development for its doctors, nurses and administrators across England to create a new culture of change and improvement across services, where everyone – patients, colleagues, commissioners and the community feels the difference.

Launched in 2017, our Feel the Difference Development Programme has been designed by colleagues from across Virgin Care to help our colleagues be at their best and work well together to improve services, deliver the very best care and make a difference to service users and the communities we serve.

We knew from research from the NHS Staff Survey that we needed to help our people perform their duties to the best of their abilities and provide them with the tools to do so.

Dr Vikki Barnes

Dr Vikki Barnes

One of three modules, MindCoach, was piloted last year and fully launched in 2017. It has been developed by our Clinical Psychologist Dr Vikki Barnes and uses the science behind positive psychology focusing on resilience, reducing stress and encouraging positive mental health to help our colleagues be their best.

With more than 7,000 colleagues based at more than 500 sites around the country, it was essential that we found a way to ensure all colleagues had access no matter where in England they work.

We ensured that we run a number of events across the country, which were easy-to-access for people and at the time of writing three courses have taken place in Surrey, Devon and Birmingham.

 

 

Feedback from colleagues told us that MindCoach has been very beneficial, with a colleague telling us that they will use the skills taught to have “more self-reflection and inherit new ways to understand and support colleagues”.


The challenge

Working day-to-day in frontline health care can be stressful and can cause high sickness absence, which can have a detrimental impact on patient welfare.

In 2016, according to the NHS Staff Survey, three in five staff (60%) reported coming to work in the previous three months despite feeling unable to perform their duties or the requirements of their role. The majority of staff acknowledged that this was a result of pressure from themselves (92%) rather than from other colleagues (20%) or their manager (26%).

However, the proportion of staff who reported feeling unwell due to work related stress is at its lowest since 2012, at 37%.

As an organisation that transforms NHS services to make them more efficient, improve outcomes and deliver a greater patient experience, we knew that from national research and our own internal Have Your Say Survey, that we needed to overcome the challenges that our colleagues face with their own mental wellbeing and provide them with tools to help them bring their best self to work every day and avoid stressful situations.

With more than 7,000 colleagues based at more than 500 sites around the country, it was essential that we found a way to ensure all colleagues had access no matter where in England they work.

The solution

1390We launched our Feel the Difference Development Programme in 2017 and it has been designed by our colleagues to help their peers from across Virgin Care be at their best and work well together to improve the services we deliver and make a difference to service users. The programme has also been designed to help reduce our colleagues’ stress and build their resilience.

As a part of the programme MindCoach – one of three modules – was developed by our Clinical Psychologist Dr Vicki Barnes and uses the science behind positive psychology, focusing on resilience, reducing stress and encouraging positive metal health to help our colleagues be at their best.

Before launch, Vicki looked at how we could better look after each other, our teams and also patients. She found that the only solution was Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) but we found that teaching people how to change their mind set and build resilience, which MindCoach does, that it would be a better alternative for our colleagues.

We offer our colleagues a four hour workshop – after they’ve completed pre-work – which they have told us works well, and it is split into two sections – firstly focusing on maintain a healthy mind-set, which includes understanding optimism, boosting positivity, feeling in control and being flexible in considering the mind-set of others.  The second half of the workshop looks at resilience, how to identify gaps, building on our own levels of resilience, recognising and alleviating stress in order to become more productive.

MindCoach is partly taught and partly experiential, which means colleagues can practise what they’ve learned alongside their peers and get a real feel for different techniques they can use to enable themselves to feel more positive in themselves, in their teams and services.

We piloted the course as a project last year and its success meant we were able to fully launch in 2017.

The difference

We believe we are the first healthcare provider to attempt to rollout a programme like this, working across the country, covering everyone in the business and delivering measurable results so quickly, and full roll-out follows a successful pilot last year.


We’ve run three MindCoach workshops in Surrey, Birmingham and Devon for colleagues to attend already in 2017 with more planned to run throughout the year.

1479_fullThey have also been very well attended – courses have a max capacity of 25 people at any one time – with more than 70 people accessing the training.

Feedback has told us that MindCoach has and will help colleagues change the way they think, reduce stress and help them better support colleagues.

One colleague said “I shall be using what I have learnt today both and home and in my workplace,” with another adding they would “be more resilient and use some of the strategies to deal with stressful situations”.

Further feedback included:

  • “I will have more awareness of caring for myself”
  • “More self-reflection and new ways to understand and support colleagues”
  • “I will take the skills taught into my own tool kit for both personal and work strategy”
  • “The online learning encouraged me to meet a challenge at work with a completely new outlook/appreciate and move through a weekend of challenges with a positivity that is uncommon for me”

We will also training colleagues as MindCoach facilitator’s with several attendees volunteering to become facilitators and run future workshops in their areas. This development means that more MindCoach sessions can be run for more of our colleagues in the future throughout the year.

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