Therapets, mocktail-making and inspirational speakers have helped give staff at Aberdeen’s flagship hospital some much needed “down time”.
A new initiative, the Health and Wellbeing Week, was held for staff within the unscheduled care division at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, who often deal with some of the most pressing cases when patients are admitted in an emergency.
John Thomson, a clinical director and emergency medicine consultant, said the initiative was introduced in a bid to give staff some much needed respite from their busy jobs.
He added: “It’s never quiet, it’s always difficult for our staff to get some down time when they’re on-shift.
“They can’t go for lunch together, can’t go to grab a coffee as a group because of the way we work: patients turning up and requiring to be seen.
“This year particularly has seen sustained pressure on unscheduled care.”
Mr Thomson said the division has been experiencing “winter-level pressure” all year.
Staff working in the department deal with patients turning up with major injuries as well as people who have fallen ill and need emergency care.
He said: “There’s a real focus on the division to make sure that our staff are looked after and are happy at their work.
“To deliver high-quality patient care, we need staff that are healthy, well and at work.
“It’s important our staff are well prepared physically and mentally to help cope with the increased demands.”
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The timetable, which ran throughout last week, included a range of different sessions for staff including therapets visiting the hospital, mocktail-making and reflexology sessions.
Staff also got the chance to take part in a Bake Off competition, to learn about stress awareness and mindfulness.
The therapets drop-in session proved hugely popular with staff crowding in to see Shetland pony duo Flicker and Wilson, who even paid a special visit to some patients.
Elaine Sangster, who runs Therapy Ponies Scotland with husband John in West Lothian, said there was “no better therapy” than spending time with the ponies.
She added: “They make you smile and they make you happy.
“We work with a lot of dementia residents and patients.
“Sometimes people who don’t get involved in many things become quite animated about the ponies and it spreads a real feel-good factor.”
Karolina Kruckich, staff nurse, who visited the ponies, said: “It makes your day.
“We used to have dogs in but ponies are cuter.
“It really brightens up your day when it’s busy.
“Even with patients, it makes their day a bit better.”
Dr Thomson said feedback from staff on the initiative has been “incredibly positive”.
He added: “This is the first time we have had a full-week programme of different events to just introduce staff members to various different things. It’s making it clear that we value their wellbeing.
“It’s important to remind colleagues we have to look out for each other.”