North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust workers launched the Creative Writing for Wellbeing’ workshops – which have resulted in a poetry book – to help reduce stress during the pandemic.
The project has now won the ‘Helping our Workforce to Recover from the Pandemic’ category at this year’s Bright Ideas in Health Awards.
The workshops were the product of a collaboration between nurse consultant in cancer and palliative care Mel McEvoy, consultant in palliative medicine Dr Donna Wakefield and The Open University to establish whether poetry could reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing among workers.
The book – featuring moving poetry from 19 members of trust staff – is about the struggles of working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mel, a published poet himself, said: “This award was won collectively and pride of place must go to all the hospital staff who engaged in the workshop and wrote about how they felt during COVID-19.
“The award recognises the importance of clinical staff’s experiences. We are all someone else’s family member before we are health professionals.”
He added: “What was captured in the writing was something we share with the patients – that we are also vulnerable in the face of challenges.”
Ward matron Kim Duffy is one of the poets in the book.
She said: “Writing and finally being able to get it all out just brought it all back to reality. It’s a way to communicate what you’re really feeling which is something a lot of people don’t want to do during COVID.”
The book, Creative Writing Handbook for Health Care Workers, features poetry from the staff as well as tips on creative writing.
Copies are now available in all wards at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for both patients and staff to read.
Mel McEvoy added: “What this award shows is that health care professionals recognise that staff wellbeing is an important principle in any health care setting.”
Now in its 17th year, the Bright Ideas in Health Awards recognise the work of individuals and teams in the NHS, who have improved services provided to patients.