Research into how NHS nurses can strengthen resilience starts in Bradford

RESEARCH into how frontline NHS nurses in West Yorkshire can be better supported to strengthen and maintain their resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic starts in Bradford this month.

The Burdett Trust for Nursing has awarded Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust a grant of more than £82,000 to investigate how healthcare professionals can implement strategies to help colleagues working in highly stressful clinical environments, such as critical care, cope with the traumatic situations they face.

The 12-month study will be led by the Trust’s Assistant Chief Nurse for Quality and Safety Research, Angela Grange, and will evaluate a tailored coaching intervention for 80 nurses called RE-BOOT (which stands for ‘REcovery-BOOsting Training’) to help prepare critical care nurses for, and aid recovery after, stressful clinical events at work.

Dr Grange said: “RE-BOOT has already been tested as a face-to face, psychological intervention with other staff groups but this new research will see if it can be translated into an online format for critical care nurses given the challenges of delivering programmes like this during the pandemic.

“The nurses will take part in small, remote group workshops and there will be follow-up coaching calls led by a psychological therapist. During the workshops, they will get the opportunity to learn practical, cognitive-behavioural strategies and receive information to help strengthen their coping mechanisms when dealing with stressful events at work.  The nurses will be asked to practise these techniques at home after each session to explore which approach works best for them.”

Eighty nurses, who are all members of the West Yorkshire Critical Care Network, will participate in the programme. The network involves six NHS trusts, including Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, The Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.

Each nurse will also receive two follow-up, one-to-one coaching calls from the therapist as part of the training and support.

Dr Grange added: “We hope that the RE-BOOT intervention will enhance critical care nurses’ confidence in coping with adverse events, boost their knowledge about resilience techniques and coping strategies, as well as their perceived resilience.

“The highly stressful nature of nurses’ work in critical care has intensified during the pandemic and our research aims to support our nursing workforce to the best of our ability to cope better with potential and actual stressful situations at work, and to support their recovery afterwards.”

The programme was developed in 2018 by Dr Grange’s co-investigators, Occupational Health Psychologist Dr Ruth Simms-Ellis, from the Trust, and Clinical Psychologist Dr Judith Johnson, from the School of Psychology at Leeds University.

The team is part of the Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group which is based at the Bradford Institute for Health Research, situated in the grounds of Bradford Royal Infirmary. Dr Reema Harrison, Associate Professor, from the Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, is also an expert advisor to the researchers.

Dr Grange concluded: “After the nurses have taken part in the online workshops and coaching calls we will evaluate the feasibility of delivering RE-BOOT in this new format and ask nurses what they think of the programme, has it helped, and is it of any value?

“We will also assess the impact on their knowledge and wellbeing, including their confidence in coping with adverse events, such as those encountered during the pandemic, as well as their resilience and coping strategies.”

In the future, the study’s researchers also hope to share their findings across the NHS and beyond to enable wider use by other mental health professionals.

Chief Executive of the Burdett Trust, Shirley Baines, said: “RE-BOOT is one of 19 nurse-led projects across the UK that our Trust has funded in a specific funding call for nurse-led projects that can strengthen resilience in the nursing workforce during the pandemic.

“Angela’s project particularly attracted our interest because of the importance of the topic of supporting nurses working in highly stressful clinical environments such as critical care and the potential for her results to be adopted in other healthcare settings where staff would benefit from strategies to deal with these stressful events before they arise.”