387 Veterinary Centre, Walsall
387 Vets epitomise the importance of wellbeing at the core of everything they do: it’s key to their culture and has been from the day the practice first opened. This comes from the top with evidence of strong leadership from husband and wife team, Hamish and Rachel Duncan.
As their practice grew and the team expanded, Hamish and Rachel looked to Investors in People (IiP) accreditation to guide positive change and felt that has been invaluable as a ‘good business’ benchmark.
One of 387 Vets’ recent initiatives for encouraging mutual appreciation was their gratitude board. Team members write up thanks for something another staff member has done under one of the 12 headings on the board. Under ‘Aiming High,’ one team member thanked a vet, “for chivvying us along to start new audits.” Two of the nurses were thanked for being ‘Team Focused,’ by “…taking the time to makeover the crowded kitchen.” The board makes people feel special, boosts morale, flags up good deeds to all staff including managers, encourages a culture of thanks and gets staff to think about the practice’s fundamental values.
Monthly and bimonthly meetings enable sharing of clinical and in-practice information where everyone’s contribution is equally important and actively encouraged. On any given day, a white board by reception charts how in-patients are progressing so the reception team can inform owners easily; here, important incidents or euthanasias are also noted so staff off site can get up to speed later: this avoids potentially uncomfortable situations and any feelings of being out of the loop.
Rachel and Hamish run 6 monthly appraisals to review how staff feel as well as to talk through their professional development. Mental wellbeing is important to the couple who funded access for the whole team to a veterinary specific 8-week online Mindfulness course. Participation is of course optional, but at one particular member of staff’s annual appraisal, she and Rachel agreed completion of the 8-week course should be one of her objectives to help her with stress surrounding her chronic illness and managing day to day responsibilities.
The whole team took part in bereavement and end of life training with external provider Compassion Understood. All team members have been involved in changing the practice’s end of life protocols, introducing longer appointments, using sedation as standard and introducing end of life experience meetings (where the team discuss difficult cases openly). Not only has this made the experience better for clients, it has also helped staff manage such an emotionally challenging part of the job.