Dance teacher/staff nurse/overall hero: Karelle Evans
Project coordinators: Guddi Singh, Avni Hindocha (pilot project)
Charity business development manager: Lindsay Wingate from EMD UK
Consultant champion: Dr Su Laurent
It is fair to say that morale amongst staff in the NHS is low; this can be backed up by both research and anecdotal evidence. There are a multitude of reasons including static pay and increasing workload but also a lack of feeling valued and happy at work. This, in combination with cuts to services which stretches staff even further contributes to morale and translates into nurses and other professionals leaving the NHS throughout the country. This effect was seen on our paediatric ward and an intervention was made using our own skill set, resources and required little financial support. We also hoped to improve the patient experience on our ward. Child obesity is on the rise and the hope was this intervention would encourage otherwise bored and bed-bound children to get up and move, including involving the high number of CAHMS inpatients who were admitted to our ward.
A 10 week pilot in summer 2017 – weekly 30 minute dance sessions in the ward play room, led by our staff nurse and supported by a junior doctor.
Collection of feedback: demographic information, weekly forms about feelings before and after the class, and questionnaires for staff before and at the end of the pilot asking questions about their morale, working environment and patient safety concerns.
- To embed the sessions as part of the ward culture and weekly timetable
- To collect feedback about the benefits of the classes and what could be done to improve it
- To assess any changes in morale amongst staff, including assessing staff turnover rates
Progress made: What have you learned from doing this?
We ran a successful pilot project at Barnet Hospital with promising results, particularly from staff feedback.
A selection of results:
- In answer to the question ‘Did you/your child enjoy the dance class today? (1= hated it, 10 = loved it) the average score was 9.3
- In answer to the question ‘Do you feel this class has made a difference to you/your child’s stay? (1= no difference, 10= improved the stay significantly) the average score was 8.9
Feedback about feelings before and after the classes showed a marked improvement in mood, from an average score of 3.2 to 1.5 (1 being ‘I’m very happy’ and 6 being ‘I don’t feel good’)
Notable qualitative feedback:
‘There is a great spirit and atmosphere when people are dancing together’
‘It was fun, and nice to see the team dancing with the people they care for. It’s also good to move on the ward’
‘Excellent – really made me happy & really enjoyed it’
‘It was really fun and enjoyable and lifted my mood and my spirits’
‘My son loved it and was so excited to dance with his doctors’
‘…warmed and encouraged by the class and the participation of those attending. Enjoyed it, bemused! It was a positive bonding experience also it brought us into contact with professionals of all involved who saved ****’s life when he was a newborn so that was lovely and gave us a chance to thank him again 🙂 Thank you, what a great ideas for children, staff and families, for bonding of colleagues and an opportunity for staff to take a much needed healthy break from the hard and vital work they do…. ‘
‘Excellent – really made me happy & really enjoyed it’
- In answer to the question ‘Do you think that staff morale within Barnet needs improvement? (1 = no it is fine, 10 = definitely) the average response was 7.5
- In answer to the question ‘Do you think getting to know your colleagues better would improve your working relationship? (1 = no it is fine, 10 = yes this would help a lot) the average response was 7.9
- 6/7 ticked the statement ‘Yes they are better‘ when asked ‘Do you think that stress levels in your workplace have changed? ‘
- 7/7 said no when asked ‘Do you think patient safety has been compromised as a result of the dance sessions?
- 7/7 said they thought that the dance sessions should continue
These responses were a genuine reflection of the informal and anecdotal feedback that was shared around the ward, and the consensus from the team was that the dance classes must continue.
We now also run sessions at the children’s outpatient departments at the Royal Free Hospital with good initial feedback. There are plans to take ECG to other hospitals including North Middlesex Hospital and beyond!
- We need buy in from ALL stakeholders, and a consultant to fight our corner (healthy and safety, comms teams)
- Very few materials are needed
- Flexibility is key: dance was often switched to games depending on whether there was a need to ‘break the ice’ or many children with respiratory illnesses
- Use fruit snacks to encourage healthy eating
What’s your take home message?
Introducing weekly dances classes are a simple and cheap intervention but can have wide-ranging positive effects on our wards. These can include improvements to both mental and physical health, staff morale and patient satisfaction and patient safety.
- A talented and enthusiastic teacher willing to make it work, no matter how busy the ward.
- A safe space for dancing/activities (ward play rooms are perfect)
- Sound system – a small bluetooth speaker works well
- Ward champion – a doctor/nurse/staff member to help support the main teacher to advertise and encourage the sessions to become part of the ward culture, including negotiating with seniors to release staff for 30 minutes a week to get to the session.
- Consultant champion – to fight your corner when it comes to PR/comms/health and safety
- If your budget allows, some healthy fruit and drinks to have at the end of the class, and jugs of water during the session.
- Support from a charity to help publicise the cause, fund any teaching courses, troubleshoot.