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Health service trusts around the country are creating designated spaces for nurses and other staff who need to emotionally recuperate during the Covid-19 crisis.
The so-called “wobble rooms” are special quiet rooms that staff can visit if they are feeling overwhelmed and need some peace and quiet.
Nursing Times recently launched a new campaign – Covid-19: Are You OK? – which aims to ensure that supporting nurse mental health is firmly on the radar of employers and the government.
A recent Nursing Times survey that showed almost all nursing staff were feeling more stressed and anxious than usual, with a third describing their mental health as bad during the pandemic.
The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said its five new rooms were already proving popular with staff that might be having a “wobble” and need a moment to themselves.
The trust said they provided staff with a place to go to take a “pause and ground themselves” if they are feeling overwhelmed and a space to do some psychological first aid, such as mindful breathing.
In addition, they were somewhere to have a “drink, snack or a short rest”, somewhere to make contact with the pastoral support team, and a space that recognised mental health “fluctuates”.
Sarah Shatwell, head of staff counselling at the trust, said: “The new wobble rooms are somewhere for staff to go if they need to take a moment to themselves and find some peace and quiet.
“All of the rooms have information about how to access further support including counselling, psychology support and support in relation to traumatic incidents,” she said.
“One has a laptop which can be used for video calls to the pastoral support team and another is located within the hospital’s counselling service where a qualified therapist is present if needed.”
She added: “We recognise that our staff are facing unprecedented demands and we will continue to do all we can to ensure they have the support they need.”
Similarly, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust is using charity funding to create wobble rooms, where its staff could “take time out away from the hectic wards”.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also set up designated spaces for team members who need to emotionally recuperate during their challenging shifts.
Equivalent to the “wobble rooms”, they have been rebranded as “rainbow rooms” by the trust in reference to their “colourful decor and the optimistic atmosphere they create”.
“The new wobble rooms are somewhere for staff to go if they need to take a moment to themselves”
There are currently four of the rooms, one in each of the trust’s main hospital sites, it said, intended to provide “solace for when the pressures of dealing with coronavirus become too much”.
Each of the venues are stocked with basics supplies – such as tea, coffee, snacks and toiletries for colleagues who are showering at work – as well as inspiring messages and uplifting posters.
They are also equipped with CD players, diffusers, stress toys and helpful literature that will point those in need towards confidential therapy services, noted Doncaster and Bassetlaw.
Jayne Collingwood, head of leadership and organisation development, said: “We want our team to know that it is okay to be anxious, upset or overwhelmed in this stressful period and that we are behind them every step of the way.
“Whether colleagues need to find out more about the support we are offering, a place to let it all out, or are just looking for somewhere to get a bit of peace and quiet, these spaces are open to them.”
Meanwhile, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, a provider of mental health and learning disability services, is offering the chance to sign up to “virtual wobble rooms”.
The introduction of virtual wobble rooms is intended to provide staff with a way to articulate how they feel about the pressures they are dealing with, said the trust.
The virtual sessions, which are running three times a week, are facilitated by experienced members of staff and are open to all the trust’s employees, whether clinical or non-clinical.
Dr Richard Duggins, consultant psychiatrist in medical psychotherapy, said: “People cope in different ways. Some people like to talk to others, maybe even have a little cry, and that’s what we’re here for.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far with one member of staff saying it made them feel lighter,” he said.
“The wobble room provides a space dedicated to staff to be able to share things and support each other.”
“Some people like to talk to others, maybe even have a little cry, and that’s what we’re here for”
Staff are able to sign up and dial in at a designated time, and they are encouraged to share their feelings or just listen to others, said the trust.
It highlighted that a range of topics had been discussed so far, including how to adjust to the changes in our lives, anxiety, how to protect families during the crisis and random acts of kindness.
Some services provided by the trust have also created a physical wobble room where staff can go and take a break during their shift.
Andrew McMinn, associate director of neurological and specialist mental health services at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, added: “Staff are really enjoying having access to the wobble room.
“The wobble room serves as a space to have a safe conversation with staff members and psychologists.”