In 2020 a Catalyst For Change project funded by QNIS and the National Lottery Community Fund was undertaken with the intention of co-producing a resource to help community nurses cope with secondary psychological trauma in the workplace.
Facilitators Queen Margaret University’s Senior Nursing Lecturer, Dr Caroline Dickson, and Honorary Nursing Lecturer and founder of Listen Up Storytelling, Dr Kath MacDonald used a combination of storytelling and practice development in a series of workshops with eight community nurses. This was in response to research and evidence that across Scotland increased attrition, poor retention of staff and compassion fatigue were very real problems for the community nursing profession. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic community nurses are currently experiencing high levels of ongoing stress in their roles.
Nurse participants created this powerful video in which they recite a poem created as part of the workshops
The programme was designed in three stages: raising consciousness; enabling action and; resource development. Each member of the group was given a kitbag of creative materials to encourage them to tell their stories. Lego, fairy tales, digital stories and reflection were all used. Analysis of the stories through facilitated reflection revealed key issues and feelings experienced by community nurses in practice. Key actions were captured in conversation spaces and action plans identified self-care, well-being and team resilience-building strategies.
The group translated this work into an interactive resource, CAKE, a recipe for self-care, wellbeing and team resilience-building:
Caring for self and others, Attending to what’s happening, Keeping connected, Enabling and empowering.
The CAKE Toolkit has seven coloured slices that you can check in or out to explore new ways of working through stress and trauma. The slices take you through creating a shared purpose, storytelling, reflection and action planning, self-care, wellbeing and resilience-building strategies and evaluation. Each slice can be used independently or consecutively as a whole process.
Everyone in the group felt safe and secure in sharing their stories.
Most enjoyed the creativity in the workshops although some felt challenged and out of their comfort zone. Some group members are already adopting some of the new ways of working they learned in their own teams. The group’s feedback is captured in the following quote:
“Listening to everyone’s individual stories was a very emotional experience, but I felt made us feel close as a group and strong as a profession…alongside this emotional rollercoaster, you helped us explore and search for the tools we need to deal with the feelings and emotions we experience day in and day out.
I hope by supporting our colleagues and teams, by using the skills and tools we trialled and tested, explored, discussed, and reflected on, that we will be able to support our colleagues and ourselves moving forward.
The end result – a valued and resilient nurse/team.”
The next steps will involve testing and refining the CAKE Toolkit. Following assessment, the intention is to make this available as an online resource that is a freely available catalyst for change.