All aboard! Mersey Cares funds 'Wellbeing on Wheels' for NHS staff

27 June 2024

A big blue wellbeing bus is supporting staff wellbeing

Wellbeing on Wheels stops at sites across Mersey Care to support staff 

As partWOW Graphic 2.png of our charity’s commitment to supporting staff wellbeing we’ve been able to fund 'Wellbeing on Wheels', an exciting wellbeing initiative in the form of a mobile wellbeing space which offers staff the opportunity to decompress, relax, regulate, and reduce stress during busy working days.

This is just one of a number of wellbeing initiatives planned for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust staff, supported by NHS Charities Together.

The wellbeing lounge, created inside a double-decker bus, visited various Mersey Care Trust sites throughout June, with the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Service team on board daily to provided staff with information about the wellbeing support available to them as Mersey Care employees.

Our charity team were also present throughout the project engaging with staff and sharing information about how they can help fund future projects to enhance staff wellbeing by joining our workplace giving scheme, Pennies from Heaven (now known as Microhive). 

The bus is the innovation of Project Wingman, a charity dedicated to supporting the mental health of NHS care workers and supported by volunteer aircrew.

In addition to the bus itself, Project Wingman volunteers were on board every day to support NHS staff, welcoming them on board and offering a selection of free drinks and snacks.

The sites visited included Mersey Care Headquarters at V7 Building in Prescot, Hollins Park in Warrington, and Clock View Hospital in Liverpool.

So, what's inside the wellbeing bus?

On the bottom deck, staff were able to access information about services available to them, enjoy a selection of drinks and snacks and chat to the Wellbeing Team,  whilst up on the top deck they could take five on the comfortable seating,  and at the back make use of a number of massage chairs which are free to use. There is even a raised perspex roof so staff can enjoy looking up at the clouds as they recharge their batteries. Deckchairs were set up outside which offered a place to unwind in the sunshine, an area that was especially well-used during the visit to the Trust's V7 Headquarters in Prescot as the mercury soared.

Staff received a goody bag on their way out packed with useful information and items to support their wellbeing such as water bottles, lip balm, stress balls and even pocket hugs, knitted by a Wingman volunteer.

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The initiative has been a huge success and the feedback from staff has been hugely positive. 

Harry Sutton, a Project Manager in the Strategic Programmes and Development Teams said:

"I thought the bus was a fantastic opportunity for staff to learn more about and experience some of the mental health initiatives carried out by the Trust, and it was refreshing to see the kind and welcoming cabin crew as soon as you walked through the doors. It was a lovely relaxing experience and great to take a short break and try out some of the massage chairs. I would 100% visit the bus again if the opportunity arises."

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Katie Ward, a Patient Flow Coordinator, hopped on board with her colleagues last week and gave us some great feedback:

"It was a great experience, it’s not often we have the time as a team to have a bit of time out together to sit and chat we are usually on the go all the time. For us to go together was a lovely experience and to learn all things available to us as a Mersey Care employee was great."

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The Trust's new Chief Executive Officer, Trish Bennett (pictured, right), visited the bus at V7 and encouraged staff to visit if they could. She said:

 "Working within the NHS can have its challenges so it’s important that colleagues are encouraged to take time out to focus and invest in their own wellbeing."

Ben Towell, Strategic Lead for Employee Wellbeing said:

"Over the month of June we wanted to ‘on board’ colleagues to our WOW bus (Wellbeing on wheels) to talk to them about their wellbeing, offer a calm space to relax, receive a massage, have a coffee and some cake and to talk to our Wellbeing team about our Mersey Care support. We have had an overwhelming response from colleagues and have engaged face to face with over 600 employees across our 5 largest sites. The bus created a real buzz on our social media channels and our YourSpace Intranet hits has gone through the roof . When we surveyed our staff visitors who engaged with our team 98% of respondents said they are more likely to access the wellbeing intranet hub and 97% of respondents said they are more likely to access one of our internal wellbeing offer."

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Peter Gowing, a Project Wingman volunteer who joined the bus at Clock View and Rathbone hospitals in Liverpool said it is an "unbelievable privilege" to meet NHS staff who visit the wellbeing lounge. The former cabin crew member who has been volunteering with Project Wingman since 2021 said:

"I’m certain every single NHS staff member that visited the bus, without exception, has expressed how much they have enjoyed the experience, whether it’s a session in our massage chairs or just being spoilt with a tea or coffee and a snack and often only during a very short break. I’m proud to be part of this worthwhile charity that recognises the hard work of the NHS staff."

Supporting future initiatives to enhance staff wellbeing

Joanne Watson, Strategic Charity Lead at Mersey Cares said:

"This has been such an exciting project to be part of - supporting the wellbeing of our staff and volunteers is important to our NHS charity and remains one of our overarching objectives within our strategy. We're so grateful to NHS Charities Together who have allowed us to bring this project to life with the incredible drive of the Trust's Wellbeing Team. I'm glad to hear so many of our NHS heroes were able to hop onto the bus and take a moment for themselves - we hope we can fund similar initiatives likes this in the future."

By signing up to our payroll giving scheme and donating pennies from their monthly salary,  Mersey Care staff can support the charity to fund more wellbeing initiatives, enabling more people across the Trust to benefit. The potential to raise money this way is phenomenal; around £70,000 could be raised annually to support employee wellbeing projects if every Mersey Care employee registered!

If you are an employee at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust you can sign up to our payroll giving scheme today.  If not, and you would like to get your employer on the scheme, contact Pennies from heaven directly.

This project was made possible thanks to NHS Charities Together funding.