We spoke to just under 100 caregivers across the UK about their days and quite quickly it became evident why they are in dire need of places to rest during and after their shifts. 95% told us they feel tired during their working day and 70% said this impacted their efficiency and ability to concentrate.
'It is very difficult to concentrate and simple tasks can take much longer. During emergencies, a lot more mistakes happen which need to be caught by other team members' - Ophthalmology, London
(I am) ‘Very sluggish and I feel like my head is clouded’ - Respiratory, South West
‘I struggle on ward rounds or large tasks before midday’ - Neonatology, London
The impact of fatigue and the need for dedicated staff rest space has been strongly recognized by NHS Employers, the Association of Anesthetists, the General Medical Council, the Royal College of Nursing, the British Medical Association and many other professional bodies. However, there is still little to no interventions for the most presented solution to help counteract the fatigue – providing a proper rest space in the workplace.
The biggest challenge is finding a place to nap especially during the day shifts where it's harder to find dark corners or empty offices. This is an important challenge to address as 52% of the people we spoke to said that their biggest dip is in the afternoon. Although night shift fatigue is very important, there is generally more healthcare staff working during the day but there are fewer places to rest during the day. Nap pods give everyone a dedicated space to rest whether it’s a night or day shift.
‘A bed is provided but only during nights’ - Anaesthetics, Manchester
‘Doctors mess on night shifts only (would not be possible during day)’ - Obstetrics and Gynaecology, South West
‘Best case, a camp bed/sofa; Worst case - sitting upright/hard chairs pushed together’ - Anaesthetics, London
The great news is hospitals across the country are listening to their staff and investing in nap pods. With over 30 nap pods finding their homes in hospitals all over the UK in the first half of this year.
Why are napping pods becoming a common investment for hospitals?
The data and benefits for allowing staff to nap make this an easy case. Not only is quality and productivity of work increased, but staff happiness and wellbeing are also improved. The most noteworthy benefit is reducing accidents which in a healthcare setting can be a risk to patient lives. There is also research on the increasing likelihood of healthcare workers having a car accident after finishing their night shifts. Access to [Rest Spaces] can provide that much-needed recharge before they jump in their cars and head home.
Although there is a clear case for napping on the job many healthcare workers are skeptical as to whether their employers see it this way. 80% of the people we spoke to said they are aware napping is good for them and helps them work better, but they feel that most people judge them as lazy if they do. There is a need to also address the stigma associated with napping on the job.
(If I nap I feel)‘A bit guilty I could have used it to push through paperwork instead’ - Physiotherapy, Edinburgh
Why should our healthcare workers be encouraged to sleep on the job?
There are libraries of research into the effects of shift work and how to try and adjust. One recurring conclusion is our bodies struggle to adjust to night time shift work and it's not something that gets easier over time. But for healthcare workers, patients need to be seen around the clock. Among other things, naps can be effective in reducing fatigue during shifts.
It's indisputable that caregivers' jobs are mentally and physically demanding. They not only require complex problem solving but they also need to engage and relate to their patients and colleagues. Resting their mind and body during the shift can help to reduce experiencing overload and exhaustion.
8 to 12 hours of this demanding work will justify a lunchtime nap for anyone. Especially as napping improves your ability to engage with people as well as improves your problem-solving skills. It is a great way for healthcare professionals to stay on top of their game throughout the whole shift.
General human napping needs
Humans have napped for as long as we can look back; many scientists say that the natural temperature dip we experience during the day is a biological indicator we are supposed to nap. From a well-being perspective, getting some downtime during the day is great for us and our brains.
[Rest Spaces] in hospitals reintroduce an effective natural solution to our healthcare providers. It is really promising to see the increasing uptake in nap pods within hospitals.
Leave some comments, we are keen to hear more from you.
NHS Employers - Healthy working environments
Association of Anaesthetists - Standards for rest facilities
General Medical Council - Caring for doctors, caring for patients
Royal College of Nursing - Fatigue survey headlines and call for action
British Medical Association - Fatigue and sleep deprivation