Welcome to Thrive
It’s been a difficult year for different reasons for all of us.
Over the course of the pandemic we have all faced new and complex challenges that many of us probably never thought we would experience. We sometimes feel like we should be able to cope, but the additional stressors of the pandemic, affecting so many different aspects of our lives, over a prolonged period of time has been extremely challenging for everyone.
The pandemic has created unprecedented changes in our work and home lives and its normal to find this unsettling or difficult.
This is an entirely normal response to an abnormal situation.
Emerging research suggests that whilst many of us will not require any formal support to recover from the pandemic, some of us will benefit from specified psychological therapy to promote our recovery.
What is Thrive?
Thrive is a new confidential specialist psychological therapy service tailored to meet the needs of staff who have worked in health and social care services during the pandemic. Thrive is an enhanced occupational health service which has been approved and commissioned by the Department of Health to ensure that staff who may benefit from specialist psychological support and therapy can do so.
Who can access Thrive?
In the first instance Thrive will be accessible to all staff who worked in Intensive Care/Nightingale any time from the beginning of the pandemic. This includes all clinical and non-clinical staff including staff from Patient and Client Support Services. Staff from outside Belfast Trust who were redeployed to work within Belfast Trust at any stage during the pandemic are also eligible to access the service.
You can download an information leaflet about Thrive here [insert download link for PDF of info leaflet]
What support is available?
Staff will have the opportunity to self-refer to this service by completing a short confidential questionnaire. This questionnaire is available electronically and in hard copy and can be accessed and completed in work or at home. Upon completing the questionnaire in confidence, staff will forward it to a secure Occupational Health Department email address. This email box will only be accessible to a limited number of staff who work in occupational health services. The questionnaire will be reviewed by a clinician working in occupational health services. Contact will be made with the staff member and a mutually agreed time arranged for a discussion with a psychological therapist. Where indicated staff will be offered confidential and specialist psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy delivered by experienced therapists. These sessions will be provided face to face or virtually depending on individual circumstances and client preference.
This psychological support is available in addition to the existing occupational health services, including psychology services and support and services provided by Belfast Trust for all staff members. You can find more information about support here.
Support and therapy will be offered using virtual platforms or face to face if appropriate within a COVID secure setting within Occupational Health facilities.
Hear from respiratory Consultant Dr Susan Ringrow about how many staff are feeling and why it’s important to access support
How can access this service?
We want to help you with any difficulties you may be experiencing and ensure that you get support as quickly as possible. Please complete this short questionnaire [insert link]. All information will be retained in the strictest confidence within Occupational Health departments. Your contact details are only required so that we can respond to you directly. We may invite you for a further assessment with a psychological therapist based on your returns and to help us identify the most appropriate support for you. Any assessments will be offered online or face to face within a COVID secure setting within Occupational Health facilities. Reports will not be sent to your line manager.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you launching this service now?
Staff working across our entire health and social care system have faced and are continuing to face sustained and unprecedented challenges as they respond to the ongoing pandemic. Recent UK and international research indicates that working in health and social care during the pandemic may have a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce. Research also indicates that it’s important for staff who may be impacted to have access to appropriate evidence based psychological support in a timely way. Although COVID pressures remain, infection rates are declining and the roll out of the vaccination programme is providing hope for a brighter future. We feel it is an appropriate time to offer additional psychological support for staff who are emerging from a period of sustained pressure. Our staff have also indicated that it is only as COVID pressures decline that they feel ready to address their feelings and experiences and access support if required.
Why might staff benefit from this service?
Many staff have faced new and complex challenges and additional stressors during the pandemic. It is easy to believe that we should be able to cope but trying to cope over a prolonged period of time can be extremely challenging for anyone. The pandemic has created unprecedented changes in your work and home lives and its normal to find this unsettling or difficult.
As well as additional challenges, the COVID pandemic has brought reduced access to our usual coping mechanisms including interactions with friends and family, hobbies and leisure activities and holidays. It is normal to experience intense emotions including low mood, anxiety, irritability and anger as well as feelings of guilt or grief. These feelings may or may not be accompanied by self-critical thoughts such as “I should be coping better” or “I’m letting people down because I’m feeling unable to cope”.
These feelings are common and normal and for many of us they will pass, however for some they will remain. We all respond in different ways to things in life and responding to a pandemic is the same. Two people could be involved in the same situation and experience a different response. It may be helpful to talk about your experiences, reflect on how you’re feeling and if indicated access support. Your experiences and feelings during this pandemic are just as important as someone else’s and it’s important to prioritise your health and recovery. There is no shame or stigma in acknowledging to yourself if you are experiencing persistent difficulties after what we have been through in recent months. It is precisely because the Department of Health and Trusts acknowledge that these problems can emerge in such extraordinary circumstances that this new service is being made available.
Here is a list of signs that will help identify whether you might benefit from support:
- Withdrawing from social contacts/isolating yourself
- Lack of enjoyment in normal activities (or lack of motivation to find new ones)
- Feeling persistently low in mood and unhappy
- Feelings of exhaustion
- Feeling anxious or on edge
- Worrying too much about different things;
- Trouble relaxing / feeling unusually jumpy, irritable or angry with others.
- Being more self-critical about yourself at work, or feeling less confident about work; perhaps questioning if you have done enough or questioning if you have let yourself or your family down.
- Strong and persistent feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy
- Feeling ‘cut-off’ or unable to empathise with patients
- Sleep difficulties or nightmares
- Being distressed by memories or images that have stuck with you and you can’t seem to shake off
- Fear of what will happen next or of getting or transmitting COVID-19
- Being preoccupied with ‘what ifs’
- Bereavement/grief related to work
- Drinking more alcohol than you usually would or using recreational drugs
Who is providing this service?
In response to the impact of COVID-19 on health and social care staff in NI, the Department of Health has commissioned Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to pilot the development of a regional programme to supplement existing occupational healthcare services for staff working in health and social care. The Trust is working in partnership with Dr Ciaran Mulholland (Consultant Psychiatrist and Interim Clinical Director for NI Regional Trauma Service) and Dr Michael Duffy (Cognitive Psychotherapist and Queens University Belfast advisor to the NI Regional Trauma Service) to provide access to timely, confidential and evidence-based treatment and care.
What support will be offered?
Staff will be offered confidential and specialist psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered by an experienced fully qualified therapists. CBT is a very effective short term therapy with a strong evidence base for conditions such as anxiety, depression and trauma related conditions such as PTSD. Your therapist will help you to discover and make changes to any unhelpful cognitive or behavioural patterns or strategies that may have developed during these exceptionally stressful times.
These sessions will be provided face to face or virtually depending on individual circumstances and client preference.
This psychological support is available in addition to the routine support and services provided by Belfast Trust for all staff members. You can find more information here.
Who can access Thrive?
Thrive is a confidential specialist psychological therapy service tailored for all staff who have been working in COVID areas. In the first instance the pilot will be targeted to all staff groups working in Intensive Care/Nightingale, effected by the pandemic. This includes all clinical and non-clinical staff.
Staff, including those who were redeployed from other areas or Trusts during the pandemic are also eligible to access the service.
How can I access support?
We want to help staff recognise any difficulties they may be experiencing and get access to effective therapy quickly. Please complete this short questionnaire [insert link]. All information will be retained in the strictest confidence within Occupational Health departments. Your contact details are only required so that we can respond to you directly. We may invite you for a further assessment with a psychological therapist based on your returns and to help us identify the most appropriate support for you. Any assessments will be offered online or face to face within a COVID secure setting within Occupational Health facilities.
Will my information be stored?
All information collated will be kept in strictest confidence by Occupational Health departments. Your contact details will be retained so that we can contact you directly if you require support. We may use data to analyse trends, to learn from our experiences and to make recommendations for staff care in the future. Any reports or publications arising from such analysis will be highly anonymised with no individual data being shared.
How do you I know my information will be treated in confidence?
All information will be collated and stored by Occupation Health in strictest confidence and in line with GDPR regulations.
Are the therapists Belfast Trust employees?
Thrive Therapists are recruited from across Northern Ireland
What qualifications do the therapists have?
The team is comprised of experienced fully qualified psychological therapists who are accredited by the relevant professional body; for example those providing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy they will be accredited by the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP)
What will happen during the initial session?
All sessions are run by qualified therapists who are friendly, welcoming and experiencing in providing specialist and confidential therapy to support your emotional wellbeing and address any mental health needs. A therapist will contact you (via your preferred method at a mutually agreed time – phone, video call or in person).Together you will consider any difficulties you are experiencing and discuss possible strategies that may be of help to address your individual circumstances. This may be through offering you further therapy sessions or signposting you to another service which may be able to help with your particular needs. All sessions will follow strict guidelines around confidentiality.
Will my manager be notified if I participate?
All information collated will be kept in strictest confidence by Occupational Health. Your manager will not be notified if you complete the questionnaire or access support unless there is a risk to you or others.
Can I access support or therapy during working hours?
Yes. Therapy will be available within working hours
Can appointments be arranged out of hours or at weekends?
Yes. Evening and weekend appointments will be available.
I would like to speak with someone to find out more information before I complete the questionnaire. Who can I contact?
For more information please contact the Belfast Trust Occupational Health Department:
Rania Catney Tel: (028) 950 40401
I want to tell my colleagues about Thrive. Where can I find information to share?
You can download an information leaflet and poster about Thrive here
Please encourage anyone who might benefit from the support to visit www.bwellbelfasthscni.net/thrive or contact Occupational Health for more information.