Nurses' wellbeing group

Nurses working within paediatric oncology in low to middle income countries experience high levels of stress, often managing huge workloads and complex emotional situations with limited support available.

World Child Cancer has formed a Nurses’ Wellbeing Group to explore ways to increase and improve the emotional wellbeing support available to nurses working within paediatric oncology. The group is made up of 12 nurses from seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The working group began by developing a survey to discover what nurses are currently doing to manage their wellbeing and resilience and to learn more about what support nurses would find beneficial in the future.

What aspect of your work has the biggest emotional impact?

The Nurses’ Wellbeing Group survey showed that exposure to the pain, suffering and death of patients was the main source of emotional stress. The nurses further highlighted the impact of the job on their personal lives, high workload, lack of available chemotherapy drugs and managing angry and grieving family members.

How do you build resilience in the workplace?

By discussing as a group, the nurses were able to share some of their challenges and help one another to come up with ideas for managing their mental health.
Some of these suggestions included:

• Debriefing with colleagues

• Seeking support from family and friends

• Finding solace in faith

• Eating well and taking rest during time off

• Listening to music

• Keeping your mind occupied with craft activities

Some reflections from the group were:

“I ensure my work is well planned so that I reduce unnecessary stressors, I try to think positive, I always remind myself of my purpose in another person’s life and that’s my patient.” 

“I think more about the survivors and that gives me joy and hope to keep caring.” 

However, the pressures were also noted, with one nurse sharing,

“The workload is too much that I don’t have time to rest and have a break and at home I am too tired even to eat.”

Finding solutions as a group

The nurses then had an opportunity to share what they thought would help improve their emotional wellbeing at work.

These included:

“Dedicated time to discuss what went well and what did not go well and possible strategies to mitigate stressors.”

“Have an active committee that focuses on staff emotional wellbeing.”

Next steps

The Nurses Wellbeing Group will meet to discuss the results from the survey in more detail and decide on the next steps.

Actions will include:

• Developing a support plan and implementation plan, based on the findings in the survey.

• Identifying a lead wellbeing nurse within each unit where the support plan will be put into place.

• Embedding the support plan at the identified hospitals.

• Educating and informing hospital leaders about the importance of nurses’ wellbeing.

• Monitoring and evaluating the impact and effectiveness of the support plan.

 

For further information and training materials for healthcare professionals working in low-income settings, visit our resources page.

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