Message from your STP Training Programme Directors
Namir Al Hasso, Dr EMma Bowers, Dr Jo Horne, Jane Lynch and Aarti Makan
This month’s message is from Dr Jo Horne.
Welcome to this month’s STP memo. The start of a new year is often a time for reflection and resolution and many of us have been doing a lot more of this during the last two years, thanks to the challenging times in which we currently live and work. Leaning into the positives, the pandemic has shone a light on the need for us to be more respectful, kind and compassionate towards each other, both at work and at home. The pandemic has encouraged us to understand that everybody has an ‘invisible backpack’ of issues, worries, and stresses, which on the surface we may not know about but should be mindful to always consider. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen an understandable rise in the need to seek support for wellbeing resources. In 2022, we have a wide range of support available from employers, NHS England and Health Education England, with a variety of programmes now available.
In my employing Trust, we have initiatives where staff can be trained to provide peer support via Wellbeing Champion and Safe Space Practitioner programmes. I am proud to participate in both schemes and as a Safe Space Practitioner, any colleague within the Trust can view my profile and contact me to have a conversation in a ‘safe space’. I have been trained by expert colleagues to listen with compassion and without any judgement and then signpost to the range of resources available. As Safe Space Practitioners, we are not mental health professionals, but we are trained to provide immediate peer support. As a group, we regularly meet with our mentors to discuss and work through our experiences together, in our own ‘safe space’. I have found this to be a valuable initiative, at a time when I have often felt helpless. It has been lovely to see and hear about other schemes emerging within other Trusts over the last few months, as well as the signposted resources now available to all NHS staff via the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub websites.
This monthly memo focuses on wellbeing and training support, sharing some of the resources available to learners and training departments. The School has a large range of resources and guidance available on the website and as one of the Training Programme Directors it is my role to support and guide trainees and training departments to successfully navigate challenges where issues arise. The training support team are also always on hand to help and are continuing to develop support resources and guidance to suit everyone’s needs. Their message to me as a new member of the School and to you as learners and educators is to make sure you are aware of what is available and for you to raise any concerns or issues early. If we know about it we will try to help. If we can’t help directly we will always try to signpost you to someone who can.
Finding out what works for you is important, as we know that one size does not fit all. Recently I have learnt about creating your own stress survey (recognising the physiological, behavioural, and emotional signs of stress) and creating a wellbeing toolkit, that you can ‘dip into’ when you recognise the signs, such as walking in nature, listening to podcasts, learning a language, painting etc (and yes – those are my tools!)
For me, 2022 will continue to be a time for new work, learning and opportunities. I was listening to a podcast this week which suggested that rather than making a list of the usual resolutions, why not instead think about what we might do to help our personal and professional growth this year? Sounds like a plan to me – and one of benefit not only to ourselves, but also those around us who we must remember to also look after. I wish you all pob lwc (good luck!) for the year ahead. Please do look after yourself and each other, using and sharing wellbeing resources and toolkits as and when you need to.
Information for all trainees and training officers
Health and wellbeing special issue
With the impact the pandemic has had on us all, in addition to the uncertainty we have had to endure in recent times, we feel now more than ever it is important to reflect on wellbeing and mental health. Monday 17th January 2022 marks ‘Blue Monday’, a day that has been calculated as the most depressing day of the year.
The term ‘Blue Monday’ originated from a UK travel company, Sky Travel to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept claims to be a result of calculating the date using an equation which takes into account weather conditions, debt levels, time since Christmas, time since new year’s resolutions have been broken, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.
This time of year, can be very difficult for some with possible debt, the festive season come down, the miserable weather we have in the UK and the impact this may have on motivation. As part of this special piece, we would like to share information, resources and guidance for anyone who feels they would benefit from them.
Mental health and wellbeing support resources
It’s good to know that The Samaritans want to turn the third Monday of January into Brew Monday. This encourages people to make a cup of tea (or coffee)! and have a talk with those they care about. We think this is a positive approach and anyone wishing to access The Samaritans can do so here:
- Call 116 123 any time, day or night for FREE
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org (response time 24 hours)
- Visit The Samaritans website for further contact options including writing a letter or using the self-help app
Headspace is a science backed app in mindfulness and meditation, providing unique tools and resources to help reduce stress, build resilience, and aid better sleep. NHS staff are able to access this app for free with an NHS email address until the 31st December 2022. Further information can be found here.
MIND is a mental health charity in England and Wales who provide advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Further information can be found here.
Insight timer app
This app is free and helps with sleep, anxiety, and stress. Further information can be found here.
Our NHS People – Supporting our people
All NHS staff have access to a range of support from the Our NHS People website:
- Confidential support by phone – General: 0800 06 96 222 (7am-11pm) or Bereavement: 0300 303 4434 (8am-8pm)
- Support by text message – Text ‘FRONTLINE’ to 85258 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Wellbeing support apps – online peer to peer, team and personal resilience support, including through Silver Cloud, and free mindfulness apps including Unmind, Horizons NHS, Sleepio and Daylight
- Guides and bitesize learning – develop new skills and discover new ways to improve your experience of work with short 10-20 minute guides developed by experts
Uplifting Digital Resources
Health Education England and the Reading Agency have crowd-sourced a list of uplifting, resources for NHS staff. Further information can be found here.
NHS England and Improvement are offering free sessions on having safe and effective wellbeing conversations. Further information can be found here, including the opportunity to sign up to the sessions.
Suicide Awareness Training
This is something that we hope never has to be put into practice, but it’s important we know how to manage incredibly difficult situations where a colleague or even someone close to us personally may be showing signs of feeling suicidal. This training has been developed by Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) who are a charity committed to breaking stigma and encouraging open conversations. It has been created in conjunction with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. There are 3 modules available:
- The Gateway Module takes 5-10 minutes to complete and provides a brief introduction to suicide awareness, teaching you how to approach and offer help to someone that you think might be considering taking their own life.
- ‘Step Up’ Social Isolation Training is a 5-10 minute course designed to give you a brief introduction to social isolation, and how it can impact upon mental health.
- The In Depth Suicide Awareness Training takes 20-30 minutes, and is designed to give you the skills and confidence to help someone who might be considering suicide.
This training includes signposting to a number of helpful resources. If anyone finds themselves struggling, please remember to seek advice and access support resources at the earliest opportunity. Further information can be found here.
Meditation YouTube video
Learn to meditate in a moment with this animated video, based on Martin Boroson’s book, One-Moment Meditation. Click here to view the ‘One-Moment Meditation’ video.
5 senses principle
The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding Exercise technique will take you through your five senses to help remind you of the present. This is a calming technique that can help you get through tough or stressful situations. Click here to view the technique.
Podcasts recommended by TPD Dr Jo Horne
One of our STP Trainnig Programme Directors, Dr Jo Horne, has recommended a couple of podcasts.
- On Purpose with Jay Shetty (google.com)
- Happy Place (google.com)
Support during training
There are multiple options and resources available to you when seeking support during the training. However this can be a confusing and overwhelming picture if you aren’t sure where to turn. Here we outline the recommended approaches and the organisations/teams who are available to offer help, support and advice when it is needed.
How your training is supported
First and foremost support should always start with self-care.
Trainees must look after and take responsibility for their own wellbeing and training and seek advice and support early where needed. Clinical or medical advice from appropriate sources such as the GP should also be considered if appropriate/useful. Trainees should ensure they take a proactive approach to both their training and their own health and wellbeing.
Usually represented by the training officer/supervisor or line manager, the employer should be the first port of call for a variety of reasons. They are responsible for the day-to-day welfare of the trainee, management of HR and employment policies and delivery of the training. They have a duty of care to support any wellbeing or training issues as they arise and so it is important that regular, open and honest communication is maintained throughout the training.
Trainees are encouraged to speak to their line manager or training officer if they are facing any difficulties, to explore what support mechanisms can be implemented. You are able to self-refer to Occupational Health, or your manager can refer you if it is felt this is necessary. Trusts will have Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, you can contact these individuals to discuss confidential issues and receive advice.
The University is available to provide support for any academic-related issues or if the wellbeing of the trainee is likely to affect their ability to engage with the academic programme. All Universities have their own processes for requesting changes or managing issues as they arise. It is always helpful for trainees to connect early with their programme leads and to link them in with the workplace supervisor/training officer to ensure optimal communications and support. All trainees registered with the Universities can access their student support services.
The National School
The National School has a wide ranging number of responsibilities. The School is principally available to provide advice, signposting, support and guidance on training and any health and wellbeing matters impacting on trainee progress through the Training Programme Directors, the Training Support Team, the Accreditation Team and others. All matters relating to training support are dealt with confidentially and trainees are strongly encouraged to raise issues or queries early in order to receive timely advice and support.
The Commissioning Organisations
The commissioning organisations have the role of agreeing and funding the training and will send funding to the individual employers via the relevant education contracts. Employers are then responsible for managing that funding in accordance with the agreed education contract.
Our training support team
We are here to help wherever it is in within our remit to do so. The School’s website contains a wealth of resources and information for both trainees and training officers to access.
- View the main sources of support website section
- View the health and wellbeing website section
If trainees have concerns about their training or need to make us aware of any issues that may impact on their time on programme, they can contact the team for a confidential conversation by sending an email to email@example.com. Although school staff cannot offer a counselling service, nor are we clinically trained to provide mental health support, we are able to make recommendations or signpost as appropriate.
Support from the School
Trainee self-care handbook
This handbook highlights a range of self-care ideas to help you throughout your training. Click here to view the trainee self-care handbook.
These sessions give trainees and training officers the opportunity to get some advice and guidance from the School. Click here to find more information on the sessions.
The School have developed a series of podcasts with the intention of providing guidance and support on a range of different themes for trainees. Click here to access our podcasts.
We hope these podcasts will be a helpful additional resource. The podcasts are recorded with trainees who share their experiences on the programme ranging from wellbeing and mental health challenges to expecting a child and taking maternity leave.
If you would like to engage with the production of these podcasts and share your experiences, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog post in STP Perspectives
Head of Programme Support, Louise Ayers kindly produced a blog in August 2021 to help trainees understand the School’s purpose and why we want you to talk to us when you are having problems. Click here to find the blog piece.
Changes in your training
It is important the School be made aware of any changes to your training which may impact on your ongoing progression, participation or completion of the programme. The School will co-ordinate with commissioning teams and universities to make sure all organisations involved in your training are aware of the latest position to ensure you receive appropriate advice and support so that your training programme can be managed effectively. This applies to all trainees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Examples of circumstances in which you or your training officer must notify the School:
- Statutory leave – we will need to know the dates of intended leave (maternity, paternity, parental, adoption leave) and any flexible arrangements requested on return so that your programme and training plan can be reviewed and your revised completion timeline confirmed.
- Long term sickness absence – any period of sickness over 6 weeks or more should be confirmed with the School or if there are multiple short term absences that trigger local employer policies. It is an opportunity to seek advice about processes that can support your training, such as the Exceptional Extenuating Circumstances policy, and to seek support from the training support team in the School to discuss matters with you and your training officer in more detail. Click here to find the Exceptional Extenuating Circumstances policy.
- Changes to your training officer/supervisor – this needs to be updated in OneFile but the School also needs to know for accreditation purposes and to ensure that we are communicating with the right people at the right time about your training. Click here to find the change notification form.
- Decision to leave the programme – it is important that you get in touch with the School if you are considering leaving the programme, particularly if this is as a result of issues with your training. Try to speak to us early to get advice and support so that you can determine if leaving is the right choice for you. We will always support your decision to leave but if we can help with any issues that are influencing that decision then we would like to know to see if we can resolve them with you.
- Transfer of training or early employment – there is a policy for this so please review and submit an application as soon as you receive the offer, or earlier if possible, so the School can review and confirm if your training can continue to be supported in your new department. Click here to find the transfer of training policy.
Any changes of the above nature should be communicated to email@example.com and the relevant team in the School will advise you.
Equality, diversity and inclusion work
We are taking steps to achieve equality, diversity and inclusion in our work. We welcome any suggestions on how this can be improved. Further information on our work can be found here.
Conscious inclusion training
We have produced some conscious inclusion training. The aim of this training is to help you to understand bias and to encourage you to reflect on some of the biases you may have.
E-Learning for Health resources
We have been working with training officers and staff at Health Education England (HEE) to build a collection of online educational resources that may help to address some training requirements. Further information can be found here.
Wellbeing support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic NHS staff
Bespoke mental health and wellbeing services for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff working in the NHS. Further information can be found here.
Information for training officers
New Year lunchtime updates: planning for the new curriculum
In the new year we’ll be running a number of lunchtime updates to help for you plan for a new trainee starting in September 2022.
Each half hour sessions will focus on an area which has changed in the new curriculum. These sessions will be supported by guidance, coming to the website soon.
- Thursday 20th January 12-12.30 – Competencies and work-based assessments, followed by an open drop-in session
- Thursday 27th January 12-12.30 – Rotations
- Thursday 3rd February 12-12.30 – Core modules
Missed a previous edition of the STP Monthly Memo?
We’ve published copies of the Monthly Memo for STP trainees and training officers on our website.