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  • Louise Netto, Assistant Director People Services Somerset NHS FT

What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

Covid-19 has been a stark reminder of just how important and valuable the wellbeing of NHS colleagues is.  Colleague mental health and emotional wellbeing doesn’t just impact that one member of staff, it has a ripple effect, impacting their families, their teams, their organisation and ultimately the patient care that they deliver.

In Somerset we offered a variety of colleague wellbeing interventions in response to Covid-19.  These included: an ‘Anticipate-Plan-Deter’ leaflet to 3000 colleagues to provide stress inoculation and self-directed coping strategies; a colleague Wellbeing Telephone Line offering immediate peer-to-peer Psychological First Aid (accessed by >160 colleagues in first 4 months); peer-to-peer Rapid Access Counselling (RAC) with no waiting list; and bespoke BAME colleague support.

This bid draws on the IHI concept of psychological PPE, and is focussed on developing, embedding and spreading first-line, preventative psychological tools for colleagues to access and managers to use with colleagues.

What does your project aim to achieve?

This project will develop, embed and spread a preventative model of ‘psychological PPE’ to enhance colleague psychological health and emotional wellbeing so that that they in turn can care for patients.

The project aim is ‘to provide a preventative psychological PPE toolkit that will contribute to reducing sickness absence rates by 0.5% by September 2022’.

It will build on the successful ‘Anticipate-Plan-Deter’ approach introduced during the first wave of Covid-19, and develop this into a self-help and manager toolkit providing a ‘menu’ of preventative first-line, front-loaded stress inoculation and coping strategies.

It will explicitly and proactively address the unique challenges faced by BAME colleagues by providing bespoke tools tailored to the specific needs of this group.

The key beneficiaries are NHS and health care staff, and the benefits will radiate out to teams, NHS Trusts and ultimately patients. It specifically aims to reduce colleague sickness absence and the need for specialist intervention.

How will the project be delivered?

The Psychological PPE Toolkit that the project will deliver will provide NHS colleagues with a ‘menu’ of  preventative first-line psychological interventions for managers and self-help tools.  This menu will comprise a selection of resources, ranging from self-directed resources as well as interventions guided by trained facilitators.  It will be designed to anticipate the range of needs that staff may face and provide preventative strategies to improve their ability to deal with daily challenges.

Proposed preventative toolkit interventions include:

  • Routine team huddle support;
  • Buddy system;
  • Beginning and end of shift checklist;
  • Access to intranet resources / wellbeing boards
  • Peer-to-peer action learning sets;
  • Thinking pitstops;
  • REACT Mental Health® conversation training (

Proposed measures include: sickness absence (%); self-reported employee wellbeing scores; take up of resources / support offered; and number of interventions conducted.

The project team members have been working together successfully throughout the Covid-19 outbreak and have complementary clinical, psychology, learning and HR/OD skillsets.

How is your project going to share learning?

Formal published academic article;

Verbal / poster presentations at improvement, human resources and clinical conferences;

Virtual or in person presentation at Q Community event(s);

Open webinars;

Blogs and updates on Q website;

Q Special Interest Group;

Social media, including twitter;

Twitter chat;

Externally facing internet site.

How you can contribute

  • Suggestions, ideas and feedback on our proposed step model and suggested interventions sitting at the lowest preventative level;
  • Constructive review as a 'critical friend' through out the delivery of the project;
  • Help signposting us to others who might be able to input into, and benefit from this project;
  • Share your examples of best practice and what has and hasn't worked elsewhere with us.
  • We hope to draw on the experience and expertise of members of the Psychology for Improvement special interest group (SIG).
  • We hope to collaborate with the ‘Start Well>End Well’ Q Exchange Project, a project idea which would complement the Psychological PPE toolkit well.

Plan timeline

15 Mar 2021 Q Exchange winners announced (tbc)
15 Apr 2021 Funding released (tbc)
19 Apr 2021 Q members invited to participate
3 May 2021 Project kick off meeting
10 May 2021 Begin design of draft toolkit
7 Jun 2021 Monthly project steering group meetings begin
12 Jul 2021 Begin local testing of draft toolkit
6 Sep 2021 Refine toolkit based on local testing
18 Oct 2021 Begin wider testing of refined toolkit
8 Nov 2021 Refine toolkit based on feedback
15 Nov 2021 Share learning and progress at Q Community Conference (tbc)
6 Dec 2021 Finalise toolkit structure and materials
17 Jan 2022 Begin roll out and spread of Psychological PPE Toolkit
4 Apr 2022 Project close out meeting


  1. Hi Lorna and Louise.

    Thanks for asking for input from the @Evidence4QI Q Exchange project into this project idea.  You have already been incredibly robust in the literature searches that you have already done to develop the bid.  As discussed, the library team and @Evidence4QI team would be very happy to help you evaluate the evidence based for the alternative options that Miriam highlights - although I can see that you have already reduced them somewhat since she made that comment.

    Let me know if you want another call to discuss.


    1. Thanks Andrea. We are really keen to ensure that the project is evidence based which fits well with your project.

  2. Hi Lorna,


    I really like this idea and the title is very clever and appropriate. My initial thoughts are that there seem to be a lot of options for people- I am curious about how staff will know what to access, how to access, or how will this operate? Just a thought!


    1. Guest

      Lorna Stewart 12 months ago

      Hi Miriam, Thank you for your comment - we've had a look at our menu and refined this a bit more, so thank you for the nudge for us to take a look at this. :)

  3. HI Lorna. Great to read about your project.

    Are you doing your Schwartz Rounds virtually or in-person at the moment? I wondered in your work to support "difficult to reach colleagues"  whether technology can be a barrier or an enabler for different groups of staff.

    Check out our team wellbeing proposal too:

    It would be great to get some feedback from you and your team and learn together. Bw Seema

    1. Guest

      Lorna Stewart 12 months ago

      Hi Seema, Thanks so much for your comment and all of your thoughts. We are going to be running our Schwartz Rounds virtually initially and are hoping that this will enable more people from a range of professions to join. It's a good question about whether technology can also be a barrier, and one that we will consider carefully so that we don't perpetuate any inequalities of access. Your Q idea sounds really fascinating and we'd love to learn together. Please do get in touch :)

  4. I love the concept of psychological PPE.

    How about a staff podcast for stress inoculation and self-directed coping strategies? Maybe with staff interviews sharing individual challenges, solutions, and good news stories, to create a sense of community, spiritual connection, and comradery? Could a hospital radio service assist with recording and production?

    1. Hi William, Many thanks for your suggestions, they are very interesting and aspects we could also incorporate.

  5. I'm really pleased to support this idea.  I can personally testify to the great wellbeing work that has taken place during Covid, and the very positive reception of some of the tools that you're proposing to build on.

    Will 'wobble rooms' be part of the stepped care model as I know these have been adopted elsewhere (see for example ; ; ; )?


    1. Hi Andrea,

      Many thanks for your support. Wobble rooms certainly have gained some momentum during Covid - another idea we could certainly incorporate.

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