Supporting nursing and midwifery staff
Right now, thousands of nurses, midwives and healthcare support workers across the UK continue to be at the forefront of battling COVID-19. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our supporters, since April 2020 the RCN Foundation has helped 3,286 nursing and midwifery staff, providing just over £1.45 M in grants through our COVID-19 Support Fund and the Stelios Says Thank you Awards.
In 2021, we are continuing to support nursing and midwifery staff throughout the pandemic through our hardship and project funding, and are continuing to receive hardship grant applications from those who are being adversely affected by COVID-19.
Mental health and wellbeing
The RCN Foundation has pledged support to the Nursing Times Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign. If you need support, visit Are you Okay? or the Foundation's mental health and wellbeing repository with just some of the help and resources that we are aware of that are available to you right now.
The RCN Foundation awarded a grant to the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) to develop a programme to promote emotional wellbeing at work for small groups of health visitors (HV) working in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about this pilot project here
Supporting nurses and midwives to deliver high-quality care
In 2020 we commissioned The King’s Fund to undertake research into the causes and consequences of poor mental health and wellbeing among nurses and midwives.
When we commissioned the report, we were conscious of two things. First, that there had already been a number of studies on this issue; and secondly, that COVID-19 was having a profound impact, exacerbating the issue of a workforce already experiencing stress, burn out and mental ill health. We therefore wanted to see a report that not only raised the issues, but also sought to identify solutions and provide examples of good practice.
The report makes for compelling reading and makes some important recommendations about the urgent transformational change that is needed to enable nurses and midwives to thrive in their workplaces. These recommendations cover a range of themes including working conditions, culture and leadership, workload, and management and supervision. The full report can be read here.
Supporting people with learning disabilities
When the UK went into the first lockdown in March this year, it became clear that the country was facing a national health crisis. As public health bodies and the government worked together to advise and inform the general public on coronavirus, there remained a gap in accessible and appropriate information for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
To respond to this need, and with funding through the RCN Foundation and NHS England, the charity Beyond Words developed a wordless picture story called Beating the Virus, to help people with learning disabilities or communication difficulties to better understand COVID-19 and to cope with the additional constraints that it has imposed.
Beating the Virus is available to download for free from the Beyond Words website: https://booksbeyondwords.co.uk/coping-with-coronavirus
Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccinations
The RCN Foundation is also funding a project lead by The University of Hertfordshire to create and evaluate a visual resource to help people with intellectual / learning disabilities give their consent to having the COVID-19 vaccine.
The University of Hertfordshire researchers will co-create materials working with Beyond Words and in partnership with people who find pictures easier to understand than words, as well as nurses and carers, to ensure they resonate and are understandable. A free resource by Beyond Words, Having a Vaccine for Coronavirus, is already available to download and is designed to help people think about the coronavirus vaccine and what having the vaccine will mean.
We will soon be funding research into effective leadership strategies to emerge from the new ways of working in the pandemic and a project evaluating Psychological First Aid as a strategy to support the mental health and wellbeing of nurses working within care homes at this time.