Firstly, I was very happy to see the issue of NHS staff stress and burnout recognized within the Lancet this week
Trawling through the literature this week and talking to colleagues, I find the word ‘resilience’ being thrown around as an offerable solution to stress. Resilience training has seemingly been offered as a tick box exercise to ‘equip’ staff with the right weapons to defend themselves, but should they have to be at war with the system?
Are we to be on guard at all times?
The word ‘resilience’ conjures up images of holding up the fort, guarding the gates and resisting some kind of attack. We are giving our warriors weapons for a fight.
So…after we have received our resilience training, are we expected to then cope?
Following any other form of NHS training, this would be the case. Training day = See one, do one, teach one…..right?
So, having been to resilience class, we no longer have any excuses NOT to cope…do we?
Suggesting that resilience is the remedy to cope with stressful situations, is to suggest that some people can cope, and others just cannot. ‘You either have it or you don’t’
Can it really be taught?
What if you have been to resilience training and you are still struggling?
With the stigma associated with ‘not coping’, the majority of clinicians will not feel able to seek help (Munro, 2011).
I am concerned that the focus of remedy seems to be based upon the resilience of clinicians and their abilities to cope rather than the fact that some of the things they have to deal with on a daily basis, should not be occurring in the first place. (Bullying, stigma, name, blame and shame cultures, punitive action and burnout etc..)!
There are obviously daily events which put a strain on our NHS workforce that are outside of any control. Can we ever prepare ourselves for coping with such things?
Sometimes, no amount of armor will protect us from the pain of experiencing a traumatic incident. Therefore, suggesting that there is a magic weapon to protect us from such things may be a dangerous thing.
One cannot fix the pressures of NHS work with training alone.
We all suffer from the condition of being ‘human’ – Should we ‘have’ to be resilient to a toxic work environment?
Or should the NHS be remedied to care for us when no amount of resilience training can catch us when we fall?
Resilience is a dangerous word with many connotations. There should be no bar set for what it takes to ‘cope’…the price of expectation is too high.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this – please see the support page if you have been affected by anything discussed within this article.
Munro, R (2011) Sick day scrutiny: as the NHS seeks to slash its 3 billion [pounds sterling] annual staff absence bill, nurses are facing tougher checks on leave taken; Nursing standard [0029-6570] Munro, Robert yr: 2011 vol:25 iss:18 pg:24