Looking after yourself, so that you can look after others, is at the heart of the huddle – a health and wellbeing initiative at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Herne Bay.
The short, stand-up meeting starts with the question: “how are you?”
Then ward staff, including nurses, healthcare assistants, the ward clerk, therapists and facilities team members, pick a magnetic green, amber or red face for the huddle board to express how they feel on that particular day. Colleagues can reveal why they are feeling like they are, if they want to – and receive support from colleagues, or discuss issues in private, if they prefer.
Huddles are held at four of the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) community hospitals in east Kent – in Herne Bay, Faversham, Deal and Whitstable. At Herne Bay they are held three times a week.
Matron Alison Read said: “The main aim of the huddle is to look at patients who might need extra care and support, but it’s also to find out how the team is feeling. If they are happy and feeling ok they will give good care.
“It’s saying to staff that it’s ok not to be ok – it’s almost like giving them permission. It’s a chance to talk about what is working well and what is not working well, so we can change the way we do things, if we need to.”
Senior Nurse Bamlin Thomas said: “We have a huddle agenda, which starts with the question “how are you?”. We then talk about staffing issues, patients who need extra help, problems on the ward, what has gone well over the previous 24 hours, new admissions, discharges, complaints and compliments. A lot gets discussed at the huddle.”
Staff nurse Olivia Tengende, joined KCHFT mid November 2019 and has worked in the health service for more than 21 years. She said: “As a new member of staff it really helps me, as I get to meet and talk with everyone in the team, including the therapists.
“We all come together to say how we feel and to give our opinions and it’s good multi-disciplinary working.”
The huddle is a tool recommended by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.