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The ‘ripple effect’: One Professional Nurse Advocate’s story

Date: 23 May 2022

Nurses at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) are getting extra, valuable help and support after a colleague completed a University of Northampton-delivered course.

The Professional Nurse Advocates (PNA) programme was developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement. It gives nurses the knowledge and skills to better listen to their peers and support them – following the most challenging days of the pandemic.

The course covers leadership, quality improvement, personal and professional resilience, self-care, mindfulness and supporting staff recovery following traumatic events.

At the University of Northampton (UON), PNA nurses also receive ‘Psychological PPE’ training. Just as they use aprons and gloves to protect themselves physically, they also need psychological protection, and develop skills and strategies.

One of the nurses who has benefitted from the course is Julia Fairhall, Assistant Director of Nursing at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. She talks about what she gained from her PNA training at UON and how she and her team have put this into practice:

“The pandemic has left nursing and other health care professionals exhausted, challenged and in an environment of constant change.

“Taking the PNA course at University of Northampton has been incredibly useful, allowing me to refocus on the importance of health and wellbeing, not just for myself but for others. The course also highlighted the importance of protected reflective time to celebrate our successes and unpick learning from events.

“To cite just two examples of what we have done, forums have been established to discuss how we are, as both individuals, professionals and teams. It is so important to have protected time. So, in addition, we have created chat sessions which are check-ins about our health and wellbeing, and, as teams, we have set each other challenges, learning or trying new skills our physical, mental health and wellbeing.

“These behaviours then have a ‘ripple effect’ and are modelled by others and influence a positive culture. The PNA role has enhanced the importance of how we work.

“From my own experiences and reflections, I recognise the vital importance of compassion and kindness. We need to ensure the wellbeing of our valued staff is at the forefront of what we do, to enable us to care for our patients more safely, and the feedback we are receiving is overwhelmingly positive.”

For more about this national programme, contact the central Professional Nurse Advocates Team: england.nursingpna@nhs.net.

This article was adapted from the original article published by the University of Northampton.