Buddy pilot: holding your hand through FtP
One of the hardest thing about going through any investigatory process is the isolation it brings.
The first thing most healthcare professionals are told when subject to a local employer investigation is to not discuss it with anyone. By the time they reach FtP investigation, they have already been subject to isolation from work colleagues, fear and anxiety. An impact survey that we started in 2019 shows major impact on self-worth, financial hardship and loss of professional and personal identity that goes far beyond when the case is closed. Figures since this initial survey mirror the same themes.
Mental Health Impact - January 2019
- Over half of the respondents rated effects on their mental health being the worst affected
- 67.3% did not know where to go for support
- 96% stated experiencing difficulty sleeping as a symptom of Ft process
- 88% stated experiencing poor self confidence as a symptom of Ft process
- 90% stated experiencing difficulty trusting people as a symptom of FtP
- 92% of those that responded felt that the Ft process contributed to the
- symptoms they suffered
- 27% of respondents who received a “no case to answer” outcome returned to
- work but at a lower level than before Ft with a further 23.2% deciding to leave the profession anyway this equates to 16 of the respondents )
- 90% of those who suffered financial issues resulted from loss of earnings
- 31% were unable to continue mortgage payments
- 46% were unable to pay essential bills
Our support group aims to reduce this isolation and take the fear out of talking about the process. Nurses and midwives can discuss their experience, confidentially with others who have been through the process themselves and fully understand the impact. Despite services being available via both the NMC and unions for short term counselling we are unsure of the impact this has on longer term effects, retention in the workplace or the profession. These counselling services are an extremely useful support mechanism and we will be encouraging all registrants who take part in the pilot to also undertake counselling during it as it can not only help them gain insight into the mental health effects, explore other issues in their life that may be impacting but also give strategies to cope. However, they rarely specifically address the key issues faced by those undergoing investigation by their regulator and are only available for approximately 4-6 sessions.
We are also aware that this is not unique to the Nursing and Midwifery professions. We are contacted by many other Allied Healthcare Professionals who are struggling and finding it difficult to get any specific support re FtP investigations.
We were thrilled to be awarded a grant from the Laura Hyde Foundation that will enable us to launch a pilot study formalising the support we give at the moment.
This will mean that those new to our group can benefit from:
- One to one support with an allocated Buddy, from the same level on the register as them who has been through FtP with their case concluded.
- Up to 10 hourly sessions with their buddy to explore impact on personal and professional life, along with strategies on how to cope with these. This may be around how to disclose to colleagues they are going through FtP, or dealing with conflict or potential situations that prior to FtP they would have raised higher but now feel anxious to do so.
- Signposting for legal advice and other specific support areas eg financial.
What the buddy service will not be providing is:
- A counselling service
- Advice on their case
The buddies themselves will benefit from:
- monthly debrief sessions with a trained psychologist
- training for the role
- a chance to give something back & adapted skills to take back to the workplace.
We all want safe practitioners, and we are sure that by giving peer-to-peer support can only improve the patient care experience as well a more positive impact on career choices for those having gone through FtP.
Some may find themselves removed from work whilst investigations continue, or at the end of the investigation period. We hope that they find buddies help them prepare for the outcomes so they are better equipped to cope with them. We also hope that by having this support, those registrants involved will feel more able to engage in the FtP process because they have such support in place.
The pilot is set to launch in September and will run for 12 months – after which we hope to be able to secure longer-term funding. It will look to recruit 10 buddies who will support approx 30 – 50 registrants and, again, after the pilot is evaluated, the aim would be to expand it to a wider cohort.
If you would like to find out more information about our Buddy Scheme, please get in touch.