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 and supports staff to stay in their jobs, reducing absence and improving staff retention. Research also shows that taking better breaks helps to do jobs better resulting in better patient safety, fewer medication errors and fewer falls with injuries among patients due to better nursing care.

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 taking a ‘good’ breaks is not easy. You have told us that staff often

  •  skip breaks because there is no cover or too much to do
  • take breaks that don’t recharge you
  • feel guilty taking their break as it means leaving others (even more) short staffed,
  • Don’t have sufficient opportunities to eat, move or hydrating well.
  • Miss talking to colleagues

Staff also indicated there is a need for managers to reinforce a rest culture, and show they also take breaks seriously.

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 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.

What resources are available and how can you use them

To support staff at HIOW to take Good Breaks there are resources available to offer support at each of the different IGLOo levels.

Click below to access the level you are interested in and you will find a webinar to watch, a slide deck to use in meetings or presentations, suggestions and checklists.

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