A new project to support the health and wellbeing of people working in primary care services has been launched across Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes.
BLMK was chosen to pilot one of 14 Primary Care Workforce Programmes currently running across England designed to help staff in in GP practices, pharmacy, dentistry and optometry following the unprecedented stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 18 months.
The programme, called RISE, has been set up and is being run by Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Integrated Care System (ICS).
The ICS is the local partnership of NHS commissioners, two hospitals, community care, mental health and ambulance service providers, who are working in partnership with four local councils and other partners, including voluntary, faith, community, social enterprise and academic groups.
ICS organisations work together across health, care and community settings, providing the ideal opportunity for RISE to reach primary care staff wherever they work.
RISE was created following concerns that primary care staff are currently facing a higher workload and patient demand than ever as the pandemic continues, which could create an exhausted workforce at risk of burn out, taking early retirement or leaving the profession altogether.
Susi Clarke, Primary Care Workforce Programme Lead at BLMK ICS said: “We hope that RISE will encourage our staff to look after themselves and feel valued in a way that will help them to deal with the pressures we are all currently facing.
“It has been designed by and for our primary care staff in response to their experiences on the ground during the pandemic and recognises that for good wellbeing we need good relationships and connections with people, good physical help and a good life balance.”
RISE will feature weekly online wellbeing sessions beginning in October, along with yoga and compassionate conversations. To promote mindfulness and inner peace, RISE will offer a weekly guided meditation session and access to the ShinyMind (corr) app offering 24/7 wellbeing support with interactive exercises and masterclasses to stimulate learning and self-awareness.
Staff will also be offered online coaching sessions to support their mental health and the opportunity to join volunteering opportunities in the local community.
Susi added: “Primary care staff already have access to the Keeping Well Hub, an excellent service which provides professional confidential wellbeing and psychological support to people working in health and care, teaching and the emergency services in the BLMK area.
“However, this programme will be more personal, offering a range of self-help opportunities tailored specifically towards the needs and interests of our staff, helping them to stay well and stay working in primary care.