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Trust fund research on mental health strategies for frontline nurses

The Burdett Trust for Nursing have funded a research project led by the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS FT. The grant of more than £82,000 will enable research to be carried out, looking at the best ways NHS frontline nurses - in West Yorkshire - can be better supported to strengthen and maintain their resilience.

The research will look at implementing strategies to help colleagues working in highly stressful clinical environments, such as critical care units, cope better with the work they’re involved in.

Assistant Chief Nurse for Quality and Safety Research at the trust, Angela Grange will lead the 12-month study. The research will evaluate a tailored coaching intervention for 80 nurses called ‘REcovery-BOOsting Training’ (RE-BOOT) to help prepare critical care nurses, and aid recovery after stressful clinical events at work. Each nurse will receive two follow-up, one-to-one coaching calls from their therapist as part of the training and support. The nurses participating in the programme are all members of the West Yorkshire Critical Care Network.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Airedale NHS FT, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS FT, The Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Harrogate and District NHS FT, are all a part of the network.

Dr Grange said: “RE-BOOT has already been tested as a face-to face, psychological intervention with other staff groups but this new research will see if it can be translated into an online format for critical care nurses given the challenges of delivering programmes like this during the pandemic.

“The nurses will take part in small, remote group workshops and there will be follow-up coaching calls led by a psychological therapist. During the workshops, they will get the opportunity to learn practical, cognitive-behavioural strategies and receive information to help strengthen their coping mechanisms when dealing with stressful events at work.  The nurses will be asked to practise these techniques at home after each session to explore which approach works best for them.”

Once nurses have completed online workshops and coaching calls, researchers will look at potentially delivering the programme in the new format, asking nurses what they think of the programme. They will also examine their knowledge and wellbeing, including their confidence in coping with adverse events, such as those during the pandemic.

Chief Executive of the Burdett Trust, Shirley Baines, said: “RE-BOOT is one of 19 nurse-led projects across the UK that our trust has funded in a specific funding call for nurse-led projects that can strengthen resilience in the nursing workforce during the pandemic.

“Angela’s project particularly attracted our interest because of the importance of the topic of supporting nurses working in highly stressful clinical environments such as critical care and the potential for her results to be adopted in other healthcare settings where staff would benefit from strategies to deal with these stressful events before they arise.”

Dr Grange’s co-investigators, Occupational Health Psychologist Dr Ruth Simms-Ellis, from the trust; and Clinical Psychologist Dr Judith Johnson, from the School of Psychology at Leeds University, developed the programme in 2018.

The researchers hope to share their findings across the NHS and beyond to encourage wider use by other mental health professionals.

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