Building resilient people and teams: Hospice UK

Many organisations face the challenge of supporting staff who work within emotionally demanding contexts.  This case study looks at a body of work conducted by Jess Price-Jones, on behalf of Hospice UK to improve resilience in a widely dispersed network of Hospice staff using online resources and a programme of webinars.


Building resilience within the hospice workforce continues to be a high priority for leaders within the sector. Our staff are our greatest asset and we are always looking out for new and creative approaches to help establish and maintain resilience at individual, team and organisational level.

Healthcare professionals generally suffer higher levels of stress, depression and burnout than other members of the workforce. What is also known is that depression and high stress amongst staff will impact their ability to provide high quality care and maintain motivation to care (Maben J, Peccei Robert Richardson A (2012), Exploring the relationship between patients experience of care and influence of staff motivation, affect and wellbeing SDO report: Southampton NIHR)

In 2015 Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care, commissioned The Point of Care Foundation to produce guidance for hospice leaders to build a resilient organisation (Resilience Framework). This was very well received with leaders recognising this was an area where more support would be welcomed.

As a result, Hospice UK developed a flexible programme of learning for hospices that can be accessed virtually and which leaders in hospices can utilise in their place of work with their respective teams.

Approach to the programme

The programme designed and delivered by Jess Price-Jones, Founder and Chair of the iOpener Institute an internationally renowned leader and trainer, offers a range of strategies that can be adopted by hospice staff. It is available virtually, delivered via an interactive webinar which enables a large number of hospice teams to engage with Jess and consider the application of new insights and tools in their local context. Ideally hospice teams attend together so group discussion can ensue based on short exercises offered by Jess. The webinar is recorded so teams and individuals can revisit it at more suitable time should they wish.

Details of the programme

There are in total 12 webinar sessions which run on the first Thursday of the month for 45 minutes or so.  With each session  Jess will introduce a useful tool e.g. the life wheel tool. This tool helps us consider each area of our life in turn and assess what’s off balance, and therefore may  benefit from some attention. The tools can be downloaded from the webpage prior to the session by the attendees in preparation for the session.

The aims and objectives of the programme are:

To understand the enablers and barriers to building resilience within the workplace and to establish healthy and flourishing working cultures and environments

Key outcomes we set included the following.

  • A bank of resources available to hospice managers to assist them in their work of helping their workforce to become more resilient.
  • An approach to building resilience that is scalable and transferrable across the hospice sector
  • The beginning of a piece of work that could be evaluated to assess the impact of the model of remote facilitation and the range of resources employed.
  • An increase in the confidence and expertise of hospice leaders to incorporate resilience building approaches and interventions into their practice
  • And for us to understand what the positive changes to the resilience are, health and happiness of hospice staff that engage in the learning offered and do they adapt their practice accordingly.

Programme evaluation  

To help in our efforts to evaluate  impact we invited  participants to complete a baseline survey developed  by iOpener called the iPPQ (iOpener People and Performance Questionnaire). This  is a web base questionnaire which provides individual level feedback on their happiness at work and offers steps  to strengthen it.  A validated self-assessment burnout tool was also incorporated known as the Maslach Burnout inventory (Maslach Christina, Jackson Susan E., Leiter Michael P. (1996) Maslach burnout inventory manual. 3rd ed., Palo Alto CA: Consulting Psychologists Press).

This is a validated self assessment tool which seeks to identify the individual’s level of emotional exhaustion, degree of depersonalisation and a sense of personal accomplishment at a given moment.

We will invite participants who are still engaged at the end of the programme to undertake the survey again. In addition  we  seek feedback as we go through the programme and use that to improve the experience for the next session where we can, for example starting the session 15 minutes earlier so participants can test their sound and camera!

Feedback to date has proved very positive with attendees feeling more confident in interacting via the webinar. This is largely due to the friendly, encouraging and engaging style of the presenter and the focus on practical and interactive exercises during the session. In addition, there is evidence emerging which demonstrates the benefit of team sharing through discussion around such potentially personal and sensitive issues.    

We are very excited about our findings to date and we plan to publish a full evaluation in November this year.  

Great reading

Pryce-Jones Jessica. (2010) Happiness at work: maximizing your psychological capital for success. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell

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