Caring for You: Refresh, rejuvenate and reinstate

By Lesley Wood, Health and Safety Advisor on 29 April 2022 Midwives NHS MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Caring For You campaign Caring For You Charter Race matters

Chronic staff shortages, unrelenting workloads, extended shifts, missed breaks and poor culture – work-related stress issues can have a scarring effect to overall mental and physical health. It can also seriously affect the quality and safety of care that members strive to provide to women and families. That is why the RCM is refreshing its Caring for You campaign – placing onus back into the hands of the employers and holding them accountable for the health, safety wellbeing and culture in the workplace.

Staff are depleted of goodwill, energy and enthusiasm. This is the stark truth. Where the Caring for You campaign previously championed self-care, gesture treats and pointed to external mental and physical support, we now want to see clear commitments and sustainable changes to everyday working lives. This is not to say that those softer elements of the campaign are unimportant, but we need to see more positive changes on a fundamental employment-based level. So how do we do this?

If we think of Maslow’s hierarchy of need, we all must start with the very basics, the boxes we check before meeting the challenges of the day. Ensuring basic measures such as adequate rest breaks, hydration and nutrition are implemented is key. Employers must embrace a flexible working pattern and be more supportive when it comes to students and newly qualified staff as well as more mature members of staff.

The first step is for employers to sign the new Caring for You charter, with fresh commitments on health, safety and wellbeing as well as rejuvenating its working relationship with RCM activists and branches. The charter commitments are strategies that the employer should be applying as part of the employment contract and in compliance with Health and Safety Legislation, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards for Midwifery and Education.    

At the very heart of this work is you. Your experience and your voice shape how the RCM holds those accountable and how it cares for RCM members. Findings from the RCM survey and NHS Staff Survey has propelled this work as well as the conversations you have with workplace reps, Regional and National Organisers and other RCM staff. Your engagement with the union will strengthen local networks and can make change happen. To keep connecting with you, the RCM will hold surveys and meetings to monitor and evaluate how you feel about the campaign refresh and if it is working for you.

Caring for You is one piece of the pie when it comes to ensuring members feel valued. Valued by their Government. Valued by their employer and fellow employees. Valued by the women and families in their care and the general public. The ongoing RCM Pay Campaign and Race Matters initiative are also key and work in synchronisation with Caring for You. These three pillars will continue to be a driving force in local branches and at policy level.