Recently, Nursing staff within the NHS have undergone a protracted period of intense pressure.
Within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, shrinking budgets, staff shortages and increasing operational burdens, it’s fair to say that levels of stress and trauma within the NHS are at severe levels.
One area of the NHS under particular strain is that of the Emergency Department (ED) where nurses are at the very frontline of medicine. Nurses within ED tend to be tough, resilient individuals, who deal with serious injury and death on a daily basis, and are seemingly capable of handling situations that most people couldn’t even imagine.
Regularly high-risk medical emergencies are ‘bread and butter’ for these remarkable people. Indeed, the identities that ED nurses develop as they progress throughout their career, are perhaps some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. I’m sure this phenomenon is apparent across the world too; ED nurses a rugged bunch!
But, given the sheer volume of critical incidents that occur within ED departments, the chances of traumatic reactions occurring is naturally increased. As a Soldier, I was once told that “volume has an accuracy all of its own”, and in within this context, it’s certainly logical that the greater number of critical incident’s that a nurse experiences, the greater the potential for the development of trauma, even for the most resilient of individuals.
Notwithstanding the seemingly endless stream of critical incidents, and the extra pressures created by the pandemic etc., ED nurses are also dealing with the day-to-day shackles of life – relationship difficulties, financial concerns, and all manner of other things that life can throw at them.
A very successful CRISIS Workshop
Eudemonics was recently commissioned to provide a CRISIS workshop for the leading nurses of Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust, following the delivery of some ‘Understanding Trauma‘ workshops in 2022. The sessions were of great interest to the nurses as they began to gain a coherent understanding of their own stress and trauma, and now they wanted more – they wanted to know how they could help their colleagues after a critical incident within ED.
One of the unique qualities of CRISIS, is that it is applicable across a very broad range of critical incident types. So, this new cohort of facilitators within ED would be able to support their colleagues in all manner of situations. That is to say that for the first time, these Sisters would have a go-to tool set with which to support colleagues who come to them with difficulties other than those associated directly with their work.
This was a game changer.
It meant that the Sisters would actually have a robust way of helping outside the scope of daily operations and the critical incidents that happened there, and able to handle many other situations causing absenteeism and poor performance. In short, they’d have a greater management impact upon the wellbeing of their teams, and therefore the resilience and performance of the organisation.
The workshop itself was very interesting one, with lots of great discussion generated by the relevance of the workshop material. One particular highlight was the realisation amongst the group of the power of the communication exercises, and of acknowledgement. There was a shared opinion amongst the group that their new communication skills would help them to deal with difficult issues in ED like, for example, when patients disclose domestic abuse.
When we came to understanding the ‘life-schema’, and ‘subjective criticality’, it was wonderful to see the resonance for the students. There were some real lightbulb moments during these discussions.
As a CRISIS trainer though, there’s nothing better than seeing the smiles on the students’ faces when they return after co-facilitating, and you know they’ve ‘got it’.
It’s usually the point when everything comes together in the CRISIS workshop, and this one was no exception!
Feedback from the workshop has been excellent, and more are planned in the near future, and we at Eudemonics are very excited about this!
Until next time,