Regular protected time is needed for reflective practice is needed in nursing and midwifery, with many only able to currently do so in their own time, umbrella bodies have said.
In a joint statement published today, the Florence Nightingale Foundation, Foundation of Nursing Studies, Point of Care Foundation and The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland are urging healthcare leaders to ‘act urgently’ to protect reflective time for nurses and midwives.
Reflective practice is sometimes still seen as a ‘self-indulgent luxury for those who aren’t busy enough with the ‘real’ work’ or be used as a way to appraise performance, assess clinical practice or as a remedial intervention for staff seen to be stressed, the groups suggested.
They continued: ‘All too often nurses and midwives accept that they will need to access this type of learning and support in their own time if they are to guarantee their ability to attend.
‘This results from chronically excessive workloads across settings and sectors exacerbated by the unprecedented system pressure that is currently affecting all professional groups. A reframing of this perception within the professions is essential,’ they added.
The statement also highlighted ‘a lack of equality’ between the reflective time allowed for nurses and midwives compared to other healthcare professionals, as well as between different employment settings, levels of seniority and fields of practice within nursing and midwifery.
They called for a ‘system-wide commitment’ to the ‘resources and processes needed’ to ensure protected reflection time for all nurses and midwives across all sectors and responsibility levels.
They continued: ‘ We urge professional and care regulators, employers, commissioners, and policy makers to follow up their commitment and act immediately to enable protected time for nurses and midwives to engage in reflective practice.
‘We have argued this is critical for safe practice and professional development. Furthermore, it represents an ethical commitment, on the part of the employer, to an organisational culture which prioritises wellbeing and contributes to the wider workforce strategy to address attrition from the professions.’
The groups said the benefits of reflective practice include:
• Professional identity – An opportunity to discuss motivation, ethnical and professional tensions and develop new skills, with ‘positive implications for retention’.
• Safety critical professionals – Increasing the influence of nurses and midwives by giving them confidence ‘in their ability to act upon the unfamiliar, recognise the deterioration of a person in their care, raise concerns and express advanced self-awareness’.
• Retention – Access to a ‘psychologically safe space’ could have positive implications for ‘the maintenance of the longer-term commitment and motivation to the profession’.
• Maintaining compassion – Confirms the ‘restorative value of being heard, sharing challenges and having opportunities to safely process the emotional impact of practice’.