Written by Georgie Huntley
Co-Founder, Niche Jobs
Working as a Healthcare Assistant
, I have a long-standing interest in how interpersonal relationships and dynamics between nurses, care staff and managers affect the quality of care provided to the patients we look after.
This is a widely researched and documented topic with the Nursing Times stating that making sense of workplace culture is beneficial
in the improvement of care standards.
To illustrate this topic, I'll draw on personal experience to describe two very contrasting shifts when working in a large nursing care unit that houses both dementia, and end of life beds.
I arrive on shift tired due to working late the previous night.
My journey was stressful as the train was late.
The nurse in charge looks down at me as I walk into handover, and I feel flustered and anxious.
There is tension in the room as two of the nurses in handover have ongoing differences of dealing with one patient.
Everyone is tired and morale is low due to high level staff shortages.
Throughout the shift, various family members get angry, and I walk away feeling demoralised and exhausted.
I'm working a shift that I volunteered to pick up as extra hours to help out. I did this as my manager kindly sweetened the deal with a free meal and the possibility to leave early to catch my train.
I arrive to a smiling nurse, and I make a round of hot drinks for us to have in handover where we discuss strategies to alleviate one resident’s anxieties.
I receive some lovely praise from a family member in how I support her mother, and at the end of the shift I leave feeling satisfied and motivated.
Management need to look after their staff to encourage happier work environments.
However, could problematic dynamics be a consequence of ignoring difficult issues and relationships, and stoic attitudes mean teams prevail through no matter what?
Perhaps care homes and hospitals could take inspiration from other support services such as St. Mungo’s
who create psychologically informed environments.
This gives staff the opportunity to reflect together, led by an impartial facilitator as a space to discuss and explore matters and issues.
This ideally means challenging issues are transformed rather than overlooked.