The national NHS people Plan, published in 2020, set out that every NHS colleague should be given the opportunity to have a health and wellbeing conversation at work, and supported to develop their own individual wellbeing action plan. The impact of COVID-19 which has been felt in our homes and workplaces and has reinforced the understanding that we not only need to support our colleagues physical health but also their mental health and wellbeing.
The purpose of the wellbeing conversation is to give all colleagues the opportunity to explore your own wellbeing and mental health and consider the support you may need from your line manager, team and/or the organisation in enabling you to be at your best when you are at work.
A wellbeing conversation is a supportive, coaching-style discussion which focuses, one-to-one, on a person’s health and wellbeing.
Wellbeing conversations should consider the whole wellbeing of an individual. We know that the wellbeing of our NHS people can be affected by all kinds of factors at work. For example; workload, capacity, relationships with colleagues and the physical working environment can all have an impact. Likewise, factors outside work, including; lack of sleep, financial worries, health conditions, caring responsibilities and other personal circumstances, can have an impact – especially if they have changed recently.
The wellbeing conversation should help to identify areas where the individual may need support, signpost them to appropriate support, and regularly monitor their wellbeing over time.
Whilst the formal conversation should take place annually, in order to develop (and review) the personal wellbeing action plan, conversations about wellbeing should be regular and ongoing, and not considered a one-off.
The aim of wellbeing conversations are to create cultures where people feel heard and valued, and in which diversity is respected. This should, in turn, encourage us all to pass care and compassion on to each other, to patients and to our families.
This short animation is a great place to start when preparing for your wellbeing conversation: https://youtu.be/gfahjJ5BVV8
In most cases, a health and wellbeing conversation will be held by a line manager or supervisor, but in some instances, it may be more appropriate for another supervisor or a trusted colleague to undertake the discussion.
Wellbeing Conversations are:
Caring and compassionate – they give space to enable employees to holistically explore their wellbeing.
Employee led – they enable the employee to lead the conversation and focus on the most important things to them.
Supportive – they signpost employees to the most appropriate support.
On-going and dynamic – wellbeing changes over time, therefore these conversations should be held regularly.
Inclusive – every NHS employee should have ongoing supportive conversations that enable their unique and diverse personal wellbeing needs to be met.
Wellbeing Conversations are not:
Therapeutic interventions – employees should, where necessary, be signposted to access appropriate support from trained professionals.
Judgmental or performance related – wellbeing conversations should not be used for performance management or as a way of judging the quality of someone’s work.
A formal mental health assessment – if you think your colleague needs a formal mental health assessment, you can signpost them to a relevant trained professional.
The Wellbeing Conversation Toolkit provides you with more information and guidance about wellbeing conversations.
As an organisation, we are required to evidence that wellbeing conversations are taking place, therefore, after your conversation takes place, you will be required to complete the following form:
You may wish to do this immediately after your discussion, or you may prefer to complete it a few days after to give you time to reflect on your experience. We would like to use this opportunity to gather your feedback about your experiences of wellbeing conversations.
The Staff Wellbeing Hub is available to access 24/7 and provides information, advice and trusted resources to support your wellbeing at work.
In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement are also providing NHS workers with free access to psychological and practical support. A free wellbeing support helpline can be contacted on 0300131 7000. The helpline is available from 7.00am to 11.00pm sevendays per week, providing confidential listening from trained professionals.
A 24/7 text alternative to the above helpline is also available- simply text FRONTLINE to 85258. An online portal with peer- to-peer, team and personal resilience support.