The union for health and care managers

Home  >  News & Campaigns  >  Features  >  Tipster: Using the Health and Wellbeing framework
Wednesday 24 May 2023

How to use the Health and Wellbeing framework

By Alan Lofthouse

As a manager, you want to take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of your team. The NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework can help. Alan Lofthouse explains how to navigate the framework and start making a difference for your team – and for yourself.

Figures building wooden framework

Are you responsible for health and wellbeing in your team or organisation? If your answer is, “we have a department for that”, you may be missing the point: health and wellbeing is a shared responsibility. But how do you navigate all the different apps, initiatives and meditation sessions on offer? And is gong yoga really the best way to deal with the pressure and stress faced by you and your team?

Some of the answers lie in the NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework. Here’s a few tips to help you navigate the framework and find your place in it.

1. What do staff need?

Initiatives do matter and staff appreciate them, so don’t neglect them. But you need a more strategic approach than simply cherry-picking health and wellbeing initiatives that have worked elsewhere. It all starts with the question: “What do our staff need?”

2. Be honest

You need to start with a frank assessment of where the organisation is. Luckily for you, the framework has an organisational diagnostic tool to get you started. Be honest and don’t try and sugar-coat it for the board. Tell it how it is.

3. Get everyone onboard

The aim is to create a workplace culture where health and wellbeing is prioritised and promoted. You will need supporters and champions from the ward to the board. A healthy workplace culture is one where everyone sees the importance of staff health and wellbeing in delivering safe, high-quality healthcare services.

4. Everyone loves evidence

The framework is evidence-based, which is great for getting board-level buy in. You can rely on those clever folk in NHS England to have developed the framework based on strong data and evidence, so you can trust those facts and figures in any presentation or paper.

5. Happier staff = happier patients

It may seem like common sense, but NHS employers often miss the link between improving staff health and wellbeing and higher levels of patient satisfaction. In a recruitment and retention crisis, having a great health and wellbeing culture could also help you to maintain safe staffing levels.

6. No need to read the whole framework

Like a lot of national documents, this one is big. However, there is a strategic overview to help you break in at the right point. If you use this in conjunction with the organisational diagnostic tool, you won’t have to wade through hundreds of pages.

7. Work with unions

NHS unions worked at national level to ensure that union reps have a role in the framework as strategic partners in fostering a culture of wellbeing – they’re not just there for sickness reviews. Working with your local MiP or UNISON reps can provide critical challenge and give you important intelligence about where to direct limited resources to maximum effect.

8. Don’t neglect your own wellbeing

Role modelling, by taking care of your own wellbeing, is important to show staff you mean what you say and are living the cultural messages you’re trying to get across. Working excessive hours, emailing outside work time and not taking annual leave are all signs that you’re overworking. It’s not always easy, but you need to address these, because they signal to your team that overworking is expected, and work performance is prized over self-care and self-compassion.

9. Be ambitious but realistic

Keeping a health and wellbeing culture going during this period of exceptional pressure on NHS services is hard, but it’s harder still to start from scratch. Remember staff health and wellbeing is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential. Face up to the pressure and demand, but be realistic in what you are saying to make your messages authentic and believable.

10. Talk face to face

You’ll achieve more through a conversation than an email. Connect with people on a human level and you will find clues to improve health and wellbeing. NHS staff are ordinary people doing exceptional jobs – they’ll appreciate you taking the time to visit the department, even though you may get some heat at first if you’ve not checked in for a while. And you might find the connection helps you too: despite what some in the media say, NHS managers are human and deserve a safe and healthy workplace, just like everyone else. The People Promise is for you too.

  • Alan Lofthouse is a national officer for UNISON and a member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development.

If you'd like to read more from MiP, sign up to receive our free monthly emails – we’ll keep you up to date on news and events in health and care management

Copyright © 2022 MiP