Suffolk health staff turn Valentine’s on its head

Health staff across west Suffolk have been taking part in a wide range of fun activities designed to support their physical, mental and social wellbeing.

The programme, called ‘Love Yourself Week’ in homage to Valentine’s Day, has seen colleagues at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and in community healthcare across the county enjoy sessions ranging from high intensity training to cooking.

While Valentine’s Day is usually about showing love to others, the week has been created to highlight the importance of staff taking time to show themselves some love, whether by attending a virtual wellbeing session, cooking along with the hospital’s head chef, or trying out a Pilates session.

Every session throughout the week is free for Trust employees to access, and the live sessions can also be replayed on demand later. 

Several of the events are being generously organised by local business owners free of charge as a thank you for staff’s continuing hard work. 

This includes a wellbeing session by 3Eggs’ mental health trainer Louise Newby, a Pilates class led by Functional Pilates co-owner Beth Huckel, and exercise sessions by cardiac rehabilitation exercise instructor Matt Lavers.

Cardiac rehabilitation exercise instructor Matt Lavers

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s director of workforce and communications Jeremy Over said: “Our staff work so hard, and in the most trying and difficult circumstances in the history of the NHS.

“Every day they come to work and go above and beyond in supporting and caring for every patient that comes through our doors, and those across the community.

“Initiatives such as Love Yourself Week are a great opportunity for staff to unwind and focus on themselves. 

“The Trust has made a huge effort to ensure that every single staff member has access to wellbeing support throughout the pandemic, such as the introduction of calm rooms, access to accommodation, and free hot drinks at work.

“The Love Yourself Week is just one of a number of ways we are trying to look after staff during this difficult time.”

Trust consultant clinical psychologist Emily Baker said: “More than ever, we need to be kind to ourselves and take time to look after our own wellbeing as well as giving ourselves permission to recharge our batteries.

“Staff throughout the organisation, clinical and non-clinical, are working in extremely difficult circumstances and we have to ensure support is there for them when they need it most. 

“Our staff support psychology team, a group of clinical psychologists and therapists, can offer rapid support to all staff members. 

“As well as this, the Trust’s chaplaincy service continues to offer pastoral counselling, and our MyWiSH charity has funded new heated marquees to help staff maintain social distance while taking a well-deserved break together.”