Westmoor is an example of how a strong belief in wellbeing and leadership from the top (in this case the Clinical Director and Practice Manager/Head Nurse) sets the tone and a supportive open culture throughout the whole practice.
When recruiting new staff, great emphasis is placed on how well the new person will fit in with the team – new technical skills can be taught, but team coherence is harder to come by. They have supported team members through bereavement, hospitalisation, miscarriage, pregnancy, depression, and other mental health issues. Working hours and tasks are adjusted to give people the time and space they need, whilst enabling them to feel valued in completing the work that they CAN manage.
As a result, this year, one colleague dealing with depression for the first time decided she was better on reduced hours at work than off sick because of the contact and support she received from the team. The assumption is always that everyone is kind, skilled and hard-working, and any mistakes or short tempers result in the question of ‘Are you Okay?’, rather than just rapping of knuckles.
Communication is really important and each day starts with tea and the ward round, attended by all the day’s vets and ward nurses. There is an open-door policy, where staff are encouraged to raise issues at the time and address them as soon as possible. In addition to formal meetings, there is an ongoing and informal process of discussing and updating on different issues, such as morbidity and mortality discussions. Recently, nurses noticed a possible increase in wound complications at post-op checks, and brought this to the attention of the vets. This lead to discussions between the vets about suture materials, spay techniques and antibiotic usage, but as a reflective learning exercise, rather than seeking to apportion blame.