Wellbeing at Devon Air Ambulance 

During mental health week we wanted to talk to you about how we have set about adopting new processes and ways to ensure our teams remain fully supported. It’s fair to say that life has become completely different for everyone over the last few months and that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed everything. People are doing their best to adjust to new ways of living, and working from home has become the new norm for many.  There are some perks to working from home though – primarily, no daily commute, which for some of our staff has relieved them of wasted journey time and the stress of morning traffic jams and queues. However, it isn’t easy for everyone to adjust in the same way, for some, working from home can leave people feeling isolated, anxious and missing their daily routine, not to mention their work colleagues and friends. 

Understandably, everyone was keen to know what was being done by our Senior Leadership Team to ensure we were protecting our people and following all the correct guidelines in line with government advice and that of Public Health England.  We quickly set up a specific ‘Coronavirus News’ channel where important updates were posted as well as staff surveys so that we could get a clear picture of how our teams were feeling and whether they needed additional support to enable them to deal with the new challenges they faced on a daily basis. 

Here at Devon Air Ambulance we recognised early on that having 'Purpose & Structure' in our day were two key factors in maintaining good mental health.  Our digital and facilities teams put in place automated ‘Flow’ messages to remind our staff to take regular breaks from their computers.  Every so often a box will pop up on our screens suggesting it is time to take a stroll around the house or garden, have a stretch or make a cuppa! 

Communication is vital, not just for the scheduled meetings that still take place albeit in the virtual world of video conferencing but also the opportunity to chat socially with those across other departments who we are no longer bumping into during our daily routine.  To combat this our Digital Team put together a session called ‘Lunch & Learn. This provided us with a regular event to join in with, starting daily at 11am staff from all areas of the charity are actively encouraged to attend.  Lunch & Learn enables our staff to take a break from work and network with colleagues. At the start of every 60-90 minute session there is a chance to chat before going on to develop our digital skills.  Our Thursday Session is led by the Learning & Development team who offer support sessions covering wellbeing, personal development and leadership. 

Wellbeing was the theme planned for our Charity Away Day this year, which has unfortunately been cancelled. This event brings every member of staff together for a charity wide update and awards session. We were keen to make use of all the important content that we had put together so where possible the main messages and activities have been communicated through our new ‘Wellbeing and Health & Fitness channels with links to access lots of useful resources.  We are actively planning our ‘DAA awards’ so we can continue to celebrate the individual achievements of our team during this difficult time. 

Many of the ideas in this Wellbeing space were born out of a collective and collaborative approach across all departments. Collaboration is something we really value at DAA. We encourage our teams to give us feedback and offer suggestions whenever possible so we asked them to tell us what they would be interested in. Through this we now have a number of 'Mutual Interest Groups' where we can share our cooking ideas and log our book reviewtoo 

One leisure activity that was clearly missing for many was the opportunity to enjoy a casual drink with colleagues so our very own virtual pub ‘The Dog & DAA’ was set up and instantly became a big hit for Friday evening drinksIt’s a bit of fun and a chance to wind down with colleagues after the weeks work - ‘Shop Talk' is strictly banned!