Reflecting on the Sigma Conference with the help of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Grace Cook, FoNS Person-centred Facilitator and RBCS Lead

A month on from the Sigma Creating Healthy Work Environments Conference in Washington, DC (USA), I am reflecting on my experience and learning. The aim of this conference was to share evidence-based research and collaborate with others in relation to improving organisational work environments. We would refer to this as workplace culture, or the ‘way things are done around here’. Joanne Bosanquet (FoNS CEO) and I were privileged to facilitate a pre-conference session for the conference, ‘Developing a healthy workforce through compassionate flow’. I was also delighted that our abstract was accepted and I presented on behalf of the project team from our Resilience-based Clinical Supervision (RBCS) Programme with North Central London Integrated Care System.

I began my time in Washington DC as a tourist. It is a beautiful city! I spent time walking around the memorials and reflecting on what was to come. My hopes for the conference were to share some of the amazing work we have been doing, to learn more from others about initiatives to support the development of a healthy workforce, and to connect with like-minded people.

As I have written about before, I believe that when we consider resilience and wellbeing, we should be thinking about this on a systems level, not just an individual level. I was concerned that this would not be the case at the conference. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the key theme throughout the whole weekend was the importance of workplace culture.

This began at the opening plenary, which was a highlight for me. Dr Katie Boston-Leary talked about how vital the environment we work in is on nurses’ health, and what happens when the environment isn’t healthy.

This then continued throughout the weekend, and I heard lots of examples of both small and large changes made in practice which had had an impact on how people feel about their work. I really loved one example; an initiative around promoting civility which included the use of Be Kind badges. Individuals who engaged with the initiative would be given two badges, one for themselves and one to give away when they observed civility in the workplace. It was also a joy to hear about the journey to CAKE from Dr Kath MacDonald and Dr Caroline Dickson. The closing plenary emphasised the importance of connection, collaboration and community across the globe.

While I was reflecting on the experience, I looked through the pictures I took. Some stand-out ones from the first day are from the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial. There were some of his most famous quotes amongst the stones of the sculpture. One of his quotes, ‘Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and thrill of creative effort’, I think perfectly encapsulates the message I would like to share. When we work in a healthy environment where we feel we are living and achieving our values and are able to work creatively together, that is where nurse wellbeing comes from.

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