We caught up with Natalie, who balances her time as a wellbeing prescriber at Whipps Cross Hospital alongside her existing responsibilities as Organisational Development Practitioner for the Trust's Organisational Development Team.
Wellbeing prescribers are now available at each of our hospital sites.
What does a wellbeing prescriber do?
A wellbeing prescriber is someone on-site who gets to know staff, thinking about what each team needs in terms of wellbeing, and then tailors that wellbeing support for each team. I work with teams to schedule in the best time for them.
The role is really varied. Sometimes teams are looking for one-on-one time or someone to come along to a team meeting to explain all the wellbeing support we have available; sometimes it's as simple as being present, sitting on a ward, making people tea.
What do you do if you notice common themes or issues?
The first step is listening to staff.
We might need to connect staff to mental health first aiders, clinical psychologists, counselling support or professional coaching and when there's a common theme or hot spot we'll share that with wellbeing leads and networks across the Trust so we can resolve quickly.
Each morning, I'll check in with safety huddles and clinical site managers to understand which wards might have had a difficult night and where my support might be needed most.
What makes a good wellbeing prescriber?
It can definitely be challenging. We will hear from managers who say they need help, or their team needs help, and they want to talk, but they don't have the time. So our focus can be working out a safe space for people to come and talk if they want to and if they can, but also not pressuring people to talk.
Being flexible is very important. It means we can't just work a 9 to 5 shift. We need to sometimes come in early or stay late on shift, meeting staff on their shift changes after people have had a long day.
As a wellbeing prescriber, we might put plans and activities in place, but we're really led by the needs of the team members and how they feel most comfortable to share what support they're looking for.
Why did you choose to be a wellbeing prescriber?
I wanted to support people face-to-face, to meet people on site and directly offer the wellbeing support they need.
My regular role is Organisational Development Practitioner, so I am used to working with teams on improving culture, following stages of inquiry and responding to concerns when they emerge from the yearly Staff Survey.
But because of the pandemic, I'd been working remotely, so I wanted to get back on site to support our staff face-to-face again. Working as a wellbeing prescriber is similar to organisational development because both roles are about listening first.
The role is not just speaking with managers – but listening to every team member and understanding everyone's experience, often to talk about what might be missing – and then coming back together to co-design improvements.
Can people contact you to get help?
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org