While many staff are working from home or have access to office facilities, several services require staff to travel many miles from their base or do not provide an established, easily accessible office. This project sought to develop, promote and increase access to local community sites to address the fundamental needs of all health and social care staff working within community settings. Fundamental needs are defined as access to safe comfortable spaces to sit, relax and reflect (rest), entry to cleansing and toileting facilities (refresh) and access to services that provide food and fluids (refuel).
While it is important to consider all aspects of work-based support that can enable staff to feel valued, when fundamental needs such as access to safe spaces to rest, comfortable toileting facilities and access to food and nutrition are neglected, there is the potential to create environments that erode basic human rights. If these needs are not satisfied both in the short and the long term, the human body cannot function optimally therefore placing safe and effective practice at risk. If left unaddressed the long-term impact is not only detrimental to an individual’s physical health and wellbeing but has the potential to cause emotional distress.
Access to local services has been eroded over the last three years due to the environmental and financial challenges associated with the pandemic and national economy. Access to public buildings has been restricted and many small businesses have closed. This project sought to enhance the resources available to Midlothian community-based staff, striving to make the best use of local services to address the unmet needs of staff working within the community
Outline of activity
Taking the idea of the Wellbeing Hub – a concept developed and delivered within acute hospital settings—this project proposed to increase access to spaces which allow staff to rest, gain access to refreshments, and address personal needs such as toileting and hand washing facilities.
Unlike acute hospital areas and office-based services, many community-based support requires staff to travel between client/patient homes. This may see staff working several hours before they return to base, if a base is provided, meaning staff may not have access to any spaces to make basic physical or wellbeing needs. Women have also highlighted the additional impact of a lack of access to basic facilities as well as issues around the cost of sanitary products.
Over the last three years access to suitable places to rest, refresh and refuel has been depleted. Additionally, new staff may take several months to orientate themselves to public provision and may struggle if they are required to change geographical area. In order to simplify this process, the project aimed to create a network of support, utilising current resources and reaching out to other external agencies where gaps in provision existed. The project sought to not only address current needs but to create a sustainable system of support for colleagues now and in the future.
The project did not seek additional funds. Work was conducted within current staff resources. The project offered a strong opportunity for integrated working across service areas, including cross sector working.
The project increased access to NHS and Council premises and other local establishments to address the fundamental needs of community-based staff.
The creation of a virtual rest, refresh, and refuel resource map allows staff to quickly identify approximately 30 locally accessible sites.
Where gaps in provision were identified and/ or were logistically challenging, the Health and Social Care Partnership sought support from other providers such as the third sector.
A logo was created to promote premises and establish association with the Rest, Refresh,
The evidence is clear – if staff feel valued and cared for, then they deliver better care.
For those working in the local community across Midlothian, this project has been a valuable resource. Managers and leaders in these areas have recognised that there has been a difference in their teams, as being able to access facilities to meet the essential needs of workers has helped them to do their job. It was also noted that being provided these facilities demonstrates how valued staff are, with one mentioning that it “shows recognition of what their work brings to the life of those communities”.
As of July 2023, the Rest, Refresh, Refuel webpage has had 536 page views since its launch, indicating that many local community workers have been using the resource.
Third Sector partners have been invaluable. We extend our grateful thanks for their participation and support.