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Hands, face, space … and a programme of rapid response Covid-19 evaluation

An outgoing reflection of the past year working within the NSFT research department by Sarah St Ledger.

I am just leaving my current position within the NSFT research department to embark on a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (gulp). So I figured that now was a great opportunity to write about, and reflect upon, the last year within the research team and some of the work that I have been involved in.  

I was employed around a year ago to help the research team design and develop research relating to Covid-19. The Covid work has been fast-paced, diverse and hugely interesting both from a professional and a personal perspective; knowledge is power and at a time when the whole world was grappling with the impacts of Covid it was nice to feel like I was directly involved in the learning.  

One of the first pieces of work I became involved in when I started in the team was the Covid-19 Ethnic Minority Staff Wellbeing Survey whereby almost half of respondents reported poorer mental health since the start of COVID-19, a finding similar to that of the rest of the UK at the time. From this piece of work a dedicated wellbeing officer for ethnic minority staff members was appointed, pandemic wellbeing sessions were arranged by the Black and Ethnic Minority Staff Network, and we are now following up the survey to see if anything has changed over the last 12 months.  

Another memorable piece of work was the Staff COVID-19 Vaccine Intention survey which we completed in December 2020. We knew from the literature that healthcare staff typically have lower vaccine uptake compared to the general population, but our study was able to provide valuable insights into why and what characteristics determined vaccine acceptance, hesitancy or rejection.  Our study demonstrated that vaccine promotion needs to provide healthcare staff with timely and accurate information relating to consent, safety and efficacy through targeted communication strategies to support them with their personal vaccine decisions. The information gained from this study became the catalyst for an increase in targeted communication strategies within the organisation and led to an overall staff vaccine uptake of 94%, a figure much greater than first predicted.  

One of the best things about the last year and the work I’ve been involved in was the ability to rapidly respond to the needs of our staff and service users and I feel proud to have played a small part in the development of knowledge and in seeing that knowledge embedded into clinical decision-making, directly informing the organisational response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

One thing that has struck me about the last year has been how much I have enjoyed being in a non-clinical, research-based role! I thought working in research would be a bit dry and, dare I say it,  stuffy but it has been the opposite! The department is one of the most dynamic, skilled (brains for days!), forward thinking and compassionate teams I have had the pleasure of working with and whilst I am leaving, I am lucky in that I am not going far and will be able to maintain my connection with them as I continue in my studies. It's been an awesome year to work in research.  


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