Good Breaks – an overview

Why breaks are important

Taking regular ‘healthy’ breaks helps to cope with daily work demands. 94% of NHS employees felt they had a refreshed perspective on work after taking a break.  Taking ‘good’ breaks protects wellbeing and prevents a build-up of stress that can lead to burnout. Having a better balance in your working day with regular rest breaks can support staff to stay in their jobs, reducing absence and improving staff retention. In addition research shows that taking regular good breaks results in fewer errors and better patient safety.

What good breaks look like

A ‘Good Break’ will look different for different people. Good breaks offer the opportunity to take time away from work, do something different, detach from work thoughts and responsibilities, re-charge, eat and drink and rest.

There are individual differences and preferences on how to switch off or recharge, whether to go for a run or a sit down, but there are also different needs for different staff groups within HIOW to take into consideration.

Components of a Good Break

  • Scheduling and duration
  • Moving
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Environment and space
  • Social connection
  • Sleep

Why do we not take breaks?

We know that it is not easy to take a break in a busy hospital environment, you have told us it is often hard to take a break because:

  • Workload is too high
  • Time pressure
  • There is no break cover
  • You feel guilty leaving others (even more) short staffed
  • There is no culture of taking breaks

This can lead to skipping breaks, having breaks that don’t recharge you, not having enough time to eat, move or hydrate well, and missing out on talking to colleagues.

Why we need a shared responsibility for taking breaks

Changing the way staff can rest and recover from work will need us to take a shared approach.

The IGLOo looks at the whole organisational system, the Individual, the Group, the Leader and the Organisation as well as the Outside and at each level responsibilities can be explored and we can think about what resources are available or can be built to build an overall protective structure.

Different Staff Groups to consider

Within HIOW there are staff groups that are on the wards and spend most of their time on their feet and with patients, they will need something different from their break to staff that are out in the community travelling between locations, or staff that are largely desk based or staff that work from home.

There will also be staff that work in shifts and that may work overnight, again they will need something different from their breaks to staff that work daytime office hours.

The resources available will take into consideration the needs of different staff groups at the individual level and also for managers on how to manage different needs in terms of break taking.

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